Ozzie Albies’ awful extension makes sense, and that’s the problem

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We’ve been talking a lot about extensions lately, but, well, extensions keep happening. Ozzie Albies is the latest to sign one, and it’s a doozy: it’s basically the culmination of everything MLB has worked for in terms of suppressing potential outlets for earnings, funneling players into one specific direction that benefits teams more than anyone else.

Jeff Passan reported that agents, scouts, and even team executives think Albies’ seven-year extension worth $35 million guaranteed, that jumps to nine-years and $45 million should his options be picked up, could be “the worst contract ever for a player.” Michael Baumann wrote an article in response to that for The Ringer that does not discredit the notion that Albies and his agent put pen to an awful piece of paper. Craig Goldstein tweeted a thread on how Albies’ deal is a reminder that teams are acting like insurance companies, and if you know anything about myself or Craig, no, that is not a compliment.

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Raising minor-league wages is a plus, but there’s still work to be done

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Major League Baseball is likely tired of all of the discussion about the working and living conditions of Minor League Baseball players, and the proof of that is in the latest rumor on the matter. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on Tuesday that MLB and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, which runs MiLB, are discussing ways to increase player pay and improve the conditions they deal with.

There are a few things to keep in mind from the start here, and they should temper your enthusiasm for this as anything but MLB trying to get fans and media to stop looking behind the curtain. Harm reduction is great and all, but there remains work to be done.

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Justin Verlander is on to something

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On Monday, Houston Astros’ ace Justin Verlander took to Twitter to complain about the glacial free agent market. (On second thought, glaciers are receding faster than free agents are being signed, so maybe that analogy doesn’t work so well anymore.) I’ve got a nitpick about what he thinks the “great performance window” for non-Justin Verlander players is, but otherwise, he’s spot-on with his take:

100 or so free agents left unsigned.  System is broken. They blame “rebuilding” but that’s BS. You’re telling me you couldn’t sign Bryce [Harper] or Manny [Machado] for 10 years and go from there? Seems like a good place to start a rebuild to me.  26-36 is a great performance window too.

The system is broken from the players’ point of view, but it’s working just fine from where teams are sitting. The “rebuilding” excuse is at the center of all of this, and for some reason fans eat it up while too many media members do not question the real motives behind teams that use it. As Verlander wonders, if a team is rebuilding, then wouldn’t they want to get a young star when they’re available, so that they don’t have to hope there is one out there to acquire at the moment they’re ready to shift from rebuilding to competing?

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The Pirates don’t respect your intelligence

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The Pirates have, somewhat quietly, been one of the worst parts of the last two horrid offseasons for players. A year ago, they claimed attendance drops had “a meaningful impact on how we can build a roster in 2018.” For some reason, they felt the solution to those attendance issues involved trading talented, arbitration-eligible starter Gerrit Cole to the Astros for a bleak return, while also sending the most popular player of his era in Pirates’ history, Andrew McCutchen, to the Giants. Oh, Pittsburgh also didn’t sign a single free agent the entire offseason, but denied that they were doing anything but trying to remain competitive.

Don’t worry, there’s another reason to be upset about all of that, in case that wasn’t enough: all of this was done in the same offseason that every team was getting at least a $50 million check from Disney for the sale of BAMTech. That $50 million would have covered the last year of McCutchen’s deal, Cole’s 2018, and a whole lot more. You know, the kinds of things that might have made for a more intriguing Pirates’ team, an actually competitive one, and not led to their worst attendance figures since 1996, which was also the the third-worst attendance in MLB. All of this just three years after they had their highest single-season attendance ever, too.

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