Welcome to Snyder’s soap box! Here, I pontificate each week on a Major League Baseball-related topic. Some topics will be urgent, others might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and most will fall somewhere in between. The best thing about this website is that it is free and you are allowed to click. If you stay you will get smarter, however, it is a money back guarantee. Let’s go.
(NOTE: This week’s Soapbox has been moved forward from Monday the 11th due to the topicality of the topic)
Major League Baseball’s winter meetings ended Wednesday night or Thursday morning, depending on what time your flight from Nashville was scheduled, and they were a bit of a dud. Juan Soto , of course, and it’s a hell of a title. Beyond that, the biggest movements were those of Eduardo Rodríguez, Craig Kimbrel And Jeimer Candelario sign with new teams. Remarkable moves, to be sure, but there were still a number of top free agents left on the board, including Shohei Ohtani.
In light of this, one topic that surfaced this week was the MLB out of season and if changes are necessary. A few years ago I heard an idea to limit off-season trading toward the end of the winter meetings and I scoffed at it at first, but now I’m starting to think about it.
In fact, I now support an off-season trade deadline following the Winter Meetings.
Now, to be clear, this is not a reaction to this season. The 2022 Winter Meetings have been furious and there have been several iterations in the recent past where many moves have occurred (I remember several times I was in San Diego and they were awesome). There were also several snoozefests (those in Orlando and Nashville come to mind). Call it a mixed bag.
Also, just to be frank: I have no problem with the way Ohtani is conducting free agency. He has earned this right and can make a life-changing decision as he sees fit. I also find it quite funny that several other members of the media are acting like this is some sort of unprecedented secret. Because everyone knew Albert Pujols I was going to sign with the angels before this Thursday morning in Dallas during the 2011 Winter Meetings, right? How about Prince Fielder this same offseason signing with the Tigers From nowhere ? Let’s go. There has always been a certain level of secrecy among the big players.
There were also plenty of Ohtani gems this week. Plus, if he had done something public like “The Decision”, he would have been throttled for being a “me first” attention-seeking player. I think some people just like to complain.
I do, however, think we can have a conversation about the MLB offseason without drawing broad conclusions about the motivations of the person talking about it (me?!).
What I have in mind here is to attract the attention of casual sports fans who love baseball and pay attention to it, but are not necessarily die-hard fans who watch every game. The latter will follow the rumors all offseason without getting bored. It’s a given. Nor are they put off by a wave of moves in a compact number of weeks or even days.
You know who rushes to move in just a few days? Yes, those casual sports fans.
There are a number of reasons why, in general, Winter Meetings have lost some of their luster, to the point where media coverage overshadows actual player movements. These days, front offices no longer need to be in one place to discuss deals more freely. Besides being absurdly easy to call, text, etc., there is the Zoom/Google Meet/Teams family of technologies where you can see facial reactions in addition to tone of voice in conversations. Flocks of job seekers also hang out in hotel lobbies during winter meetings, meaning team leaders would rather avoid that and stay in the comfort of their own rooms rather than sipping adult beverages at the bar while discussing possible player moves.
But above all, there is no real urgency to act during meetings. Why should teams be scrambling to make deals when there are still months until the offseason?
From a casual fan’s perspective, why not create some urgency and steal some of the spotlight from basketball, hockey and football during the season? All three do it during baseball season. The fair is the fair.
Think about the frenetic pace of free agency in the NFL, NBA And NHL in summer. My hunch is that there are a fair number of casual sports fans who hear about the Winter Meetings and expect it to be something similar. In fact, that’s how MLB is selling the event. And then we get something like what we had last Monday and Tuesday where almost nothing happened.
Can’t you just see that casual sports fan expressing a sentiment like, “I thought that was supposed to happen when the moves were happening?” it’s rubbishThis fan then logged out before the Soto deal went on, glacially, for about 12 hours on Wednesday. It wouldn’t have seemed so slow if other things had happened, but it was just about almost everything we had.
Let’s say there’s a deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday of Winter Meeting week for free agency signings and trades. Obviously, there has to be a date when teams can start moving again, so it’s kind of a timeout. Set the aforementioned deadline, then set the first day of spring training — when pitchers and catchers report — as the date for trades to resume.
The hope here would be a veritable blizzard of moves at the Winter Meetings, creating a free agency period – which also includes Soto-level trades – to compete with other major sports and, as a bonus, everyone is together at the same location for the Winter Meetings. It would be the marquee event of the offseason in all sports.
Remember the deluge of maneuvers before the lockout between the 2021 and 2022 seasons? It would be like this every offseason, except we wouldn’t be angry about the impending lockout.
The downside, of course, would be a quiet rest of the offseason. I know that every time a member of the evil media talk about something like this, the motivations are bound to be called into question. On this note, I can assure you that the longer Ohtani remains unsigned, the better for these famous “clicks” that we are accused of exploiting. There would also be a period each year, from the winter meetings until the start of spring training, where there would be little valuable news to cover. I hope this is enough to convince you that my goal here is not at all selfish, other than that, I always want what’s best for baseball in the long run. This part is selfish and I make no apologies for it.
I accept the argument that the MLB offseason isn’t necessarily broken and the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” logic applies. If you make this argument, I will say that you may be right.
I would also counter that by saying that an offseason trade deadline would make things a lot more exciting for the fans, pure and simple, and that’s the most important thing.