Jeff Seidel Detroit Free Press
Published 7:51 AM EDT Mar 15, 2019
LAKELAND, Fla. — I completely agree with Detroit Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos – Major League Baseball is a mess.
“The system we have now is broken,” Castellanos said.
Seemingly half of MLB’s 30 teams are rebuilding.
The free-agent market has gone ice cold for two years in a row, leaving superstars, like Bryce Harper, dangling in uncertainty for months.
The system is set up to encourage teams to swing back and forth between two extremes, from trying to contend for a championship> to trying to rebuild. But it doesn’t make sense because teams are penalized by a luxury tax for spending too much but they aren’t penalized for not spending too little.
It doesn’t make sense.
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“I just think winning has to be a priority,” Castellanos said. “We show up every day, ‘cause we want to be the best we can, so we can help our team win.”
There was an encouraging sign on Thursday when Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association issued a joint announcement on several rule changes that will take effect in 2019 and 2020.
There will be just one trade deadline, the winner of the Home Run Derby will win $1 million and relief pitchers must face a minimum of three batters in 2020.
The fact that the two sides are talking is great news, considering the collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in 2021.
But will the things they announced on Thursday fix baseball?
Not even close.
“They are talking about the wrong thing,” Castellanos said. “I think they should be talking about the state of free agency.”
Then, Castellanos listed off several players who got one-year deals recently.
Or are still unsigned.
But that is the system in play right now.
A system that needs to be fixed.
Tony Clark, executive director of the Players’ Association and former Tigers first baseman, was in Lakeland to talk to Tigers players on Thursday.
And they met on a back field for more than 2 hours.
“There was front office in the kitchen, when we tried to have our meeting,” Castellanos said. “So we went out to the front, we went out to Kaline Field.”
To fix this situation, they have to get to the root problem.
“If you lose, you get high draft picks, if you spend too much money, you get penalized,” Castellanos said. “But you don’t get penalized for spending too little.”
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Now, there is a lot to unpack there
But I have to say that Castellanos is right on the mark.
The system just seems backwards.
“Winning needs to be a priority man,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to.”
In the end, it’s encouraging the two sides are talking.
That’s a win for baseball.
But there is so much more to fix.
Contact Jeff Seidel: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel/.
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