So here we are, the first post on this here website in the year of our lord 2024. As has been indicated by many media outlets and online personalities, the Cubs have still not made a major league transaction, whether trade or signing, and we are probably a week or so away from torches and pitchforks at the Cubs Convention. Not that this matters to Jed Hoyer and friends, because they’ll take their time and you’ll like it, dammit.
I was chatting along on the Discord whilst I was supposed to do actual work (nobody is productive this time of year so I don’t feel so bad) and I got some ideas to try to amuse myself. After all, baseball is an entertainment product, and while we understand it is run like a business to make the rich white men who own the teams even more money, they can’t make money without a base level of entertainment. And right now, I am highly bored by the lack of activity (possibly due to owners being cheap, possibly due to the TV carrier bankruptcy stuff, and possibly because teams are either hugging their prospects or just not desiring the thin crop of free agents this winter). Part of the fun of the offseason (used to be, anyway) is the moves we see throughout the winter to give us hope for the coming season, whichever squadron is being rooted for. I’ll ramble on for a couple ideas…
An Offseason Trade Deadline
The rostering deadlines are after the World Series, and there are a few other milestones we can look at as well. In chronological order, we have something like:
- The free agency opening date – usually five days after the conclusion of the World Series. We won’t pick this date because teams still need to know who will become available due to various mechanisms including the declining of the qualifying offer.
- The rostering deadline – usually the week or so before Thanksgiving. At this point we know who will be free agents, and if you’re protecting guys from the Rule 5 Draft anyway, you already know who you want to keep for sure and who is relatively expendable, so this might be the earliest we set the deadline.
- The Rule 5 Draft – usually in the middle of the first full week of December. This is a month after the World Series and seems like plenty of time for MLB’s now-engorged front offices to figure out some trades, especially since they just literally had the Winter Meetings.
- The arbitration figure exchange date – usually in the second week of January. This is a month before spring training so by now if you haven’t figured out a fair deal you might as well trade the guy and make it some other team’s problem? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want to think about trades and stuff on the eve of spring training either.
I feel like an offseason trade deadline will drive some level of urgency, give us a period of fun news, and get teams set up early enough that they can now focus on free agency if they haven’t done that already because apparently multitasking can’t be a thing anymore.
Free Agency eBay
Someone in the chat suggested that there isn’t like a “Buy Now” button for free agents, but I did wonder…why not? I think we discussed in one of the Dreamcasts that we don’t necessarily want a hard deadline for free agency because I’m reasonably sure that would skew the leverage to ownership, wherein MLB can weather a year of no availability for a specific player more so than that player can just not work for a year. But with the goofiness that happened with media leaks during the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes and the common refrain that the agents and teams are using media leaks as leverage plays anyway, maybe we can kill two birds with one stone with an eBay-like system.
In this case, we would get the leaks still, but the leverage would be contained within the eBay-like system, where the agents and players set their reserve (the minimum they will sign for). Just like on eBay, if the reserve is not met after a certain bidding period, the auction would end with no winner and the player would go back on the market. The agents and players could also set the “Buy Now” price, which I presume would be their ideal contract, and a team can just agree to that price right away and that particular auction would be over. If you set the auction time to a single week, I imagine that would drive some urgency as serious teams will have to place their bids, keep outbidding the other teams, and all parties (minus the media) would be able to see this real time. Once the auction is over, whether a team wins because they outbid the competition and exceeded the reserve or the player has to go back to auction, the media would get an automatically generated press release and we can move on.
It still kind of sucks to talk about players as commodities here but I hope you know what I mean. The teams are bidding for the services and performance of a professional player and it would be nice if they gave us some entertainment in the meantime. I was thinking that this should be sort of a blind bid in some way, where you don’t know which team has the high bid but you can see what the bid is, similar to some features that eBay allowed back when I actually used it a lot, and as I thought about it, I changed my mind about whether the public and the media should see this because I think this would be the most fun and least speculative and subject to fake news, as it were.
I would like the Cubs to sign some players who are good, and given how stupid this offseason has been, anything that can drive action is good by me. Of course, I realize that there is strategy involved on the part of the agents and the Cubs brain trust, and keeping deadlines out of it at least keeps some leverage for the players, as I’m guessing that an eBay-like system might decrease some of their leverage, but I’m honestly not sure.
Anyway, if you want to have some actual fun while the Cubs and the rest of MLB’s front offices get their heads out of their asses, this was a pretty fun listen from the Cespedes Family BBQ guys as they interviewed a guy who had never seen a baseball game before.