News item: With less than three weeks to go before most teams work out pitchers and catchers, many of the unsigned free agents could be taking things into their own hands:
Players believe the value dispute between the sides will last long enough that a number have discussed the possibility of staging a free agent training camp to mimic their typical spring work, according to sources. Others already are making workout plans independent of a possible camp.
This is part of a long Jeff Passan article discussing the free-agent standoff and its implications, but I wanted to look specifically at the idea of a “free agent training camp.”
My feeling is that this would be logistically very difficult to pull off.
First, where would it take place? Given the weather at this time of year in most parts of the USA, just as MLB camps are, any free-agent camp would likely have to be in either Arizona or Florida, or possibly southern California. Many players have winter homes in one of those three places, but there almost certainly wouldn’t be more than one of these camps. That would cause travel issues for, say, players who live in Florida if the players chose to have the camp in one of the western locations.
Next, exactly what kinds of facilities would be available for these players? They obviously couldn’t use big-league spring training facilities, which have multiple practice fields and workout gyms. They’d probably have to investigate using college or high school fields, but in those parts of the country, school teams are getting ready to start their own seasons.
Would the players have trainers or coaches available to organize sessions? They wouldn’t want to run the risk of being injured while working out, as this would seriously impact their ability to be signed. And obviously they’d have to split up into squads to play games, as none of the actual ballclubs would be able to play games against the free agents, should they desire actual game action.
Having said all this, you could probably put together a couple of pretty good teams from the remaining free agents. Here are two potential 25-man rosters.
Jonathan Lucroy, Chris Stewart
Eric Hosmer, Danny Espinosa, J.J. Hardy, Todd Frazier, Darwin Barney
Franklin Gutierrez, Ben Revere, Michael Saunders, Melky Cabrera, Jon Jay, John Jaso
Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Jason Vargas, Jaime Garcia, Wade Miley
Greg Holland, Francisco Rodriguez, Tyler Clippard, Matt Albers, Jason Motte, Trevor Cahill, Eric O’Flaherty, Francisco Liriano
Alex Avila, A.J. Ellis
Mark Reynolds, Neil Walker, Stephen Drew, Eduardo Nunez, Mike Moustakas, Chase Utley
Carlos Gonzalez, Rajai Davis, J.D. Martinez, Carlos Gomez, Seth Smith
Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Tillman, Bartolo Colon
Seung Hwan Oh, Jeanmar Gomez, Sergio Romo, Matt Belisle, Chad Qualls, Huston Street, Drew Storen, Oliver Perez
Now, each of those teams has some weaknesses... but each has a few pretty good players. Teams with those 25-man rosters would be at least competitive in either league, I’d say.
It’s still a difficult road for all these players. And that’s not even half of the remaining unsigned free agents.
19 days to go.