How a free agent deadline could benefit the Texas Rangers.

Imagine the excitement of the summer trade deadline except in December. If Commissioner Rob Manfred gets his way that might happen.

Texas Rangers Introduce Jacob deGrom
Texas Rangers Introduce Jacob deGrom / Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/GettyImages
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Every team began their second day of workouts with pitchers and catchers. Most of the pitchers and catchers have now reported. Those that have not either have an excuse or are still free agents. In the future if Rob Manfred has his way every player will have signed before pitchers and catchers report. Commissioner Rob Manfred made news in a couple of ways on Thursday. He made official that he will be stepping down as commission by January 2029. While making that announcement he also detailed what he is hoping to accomplish before his tenure comes to an end. He is hoping to see MLB expand to 32 teams. The topic of this article will revolve around his other goal and that is to establish a free agency signing period that would tie in with the annual Winter Meetings. I want to look at what a free agency deadline would look like and how it could benefit the Texas Rangers.

How would the free agency deadline potentially work?

Right now the MLB offseason moves at its own pace and is more snail-like than the other major sports. The NBA is action-packed from the time free agency officially opens and it lasts for about a week. The NFL is similar in that most big free agents sign in the first week of free agency. Some will linger throughout the offseason, but most free agent business is wrapped up before the draft in April.

Baseball is unique in their free agency. It is more player-controlled than team-controlled. There is no salary cap or salary floor and so teams are free to offer players whatever they feel they are worth. That is how Shohei Ohtani signs a 10-year/$700 million contract. Sometimes the contracts take longer to negotiate. Sometimes players are forced to wait to be offered a contract that they feel maximizes what they feel they are worth. It leads to long periods of inactivity like there has been this offseason. This offseason the story has been about players such as Jordan Montgomery, Blake Snell, Cody Bellinger, and lots of others to remain free agents even as spring training has started.

Rob Manfred was asked about this today and this is him giving a brief description of what it would look like if agreed upon by the Players' Association.

So lets say the MLBPA accepts Manfred's plan 100% with no changes. That is not going to happen but in my mind this is what it would look like. The World Series ends, players file for free agency in the days afterward. The qualifying offers would still go out and either be accepted or rejected in November. The Rule 5 deadline to add players would still happen in November. Free agents would be allowed to meet with teams throughout November and begin negotiations. The signing period would then open the Monday after Thanksgiving and would remain open for two weeks. That would encompass the week before the Winter Meetings, the days of the Winter Meetings, and would then close the Monday after the Winter Meetings.

That does not address all free agency. I would add this and make the December deadline for multi-year contracts. If someone wants to sign a long-term deal it has to be done by the deadline. The free agency window will open back up on January 1st. Players can then only sign non-roster deals or 1-year contracts. That signing period will just stay open. I would expect the best free agents will all sign in the early signing period. This would allow the third and fourth-tier free agents to have their time in January and February and secure their jobs for the next season.

The positives of this plan mostly benefits the game and its teams. It would build excitement for the upcoming season. It would help teams be able to prepare for the season and market the team in a better way. It would also give players peace of mind knowing where they will spend spring training and where they will live in the regular season.

The negatives are that it would force players to sign before they are ready and for potentially lower amounts than they are worth. It would benefit the teams more than it would the players. That is why the MLBPA is not going to go for it without a major concession from the owners.