Players from Yankees and Mets expose dark side of MLB free agency tactics


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The Major League Baseball free agency market has become a hot topic of speculation, especially concerning the delays in signings for some highly anticipated players. Erik Kratz, a former catcher turned co-host on “Foul Territory,” has stirred this discussion by openly suggesting a controversial explanation: collusion.

What happened?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kratz’s suspicions are rooted in firsthand experiences and observations shared by co-hosts Todd Frazier and A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski used the term “collusion” to describe instances where he received identical contract offers from multiple teams, raising concerns about a lack of competitive bidding.

During a discussion on Thursday, Kratz echoed these sentiments, pointing out the peculiar offers often extended to “fringe” players during free agency. He also highlighted the potential influence of advanced analytics and media leaks, facilitating information sharing between teams and potentially impacting negotiations.

Supporting his claim, Kratz shared personal experiences from his 18-year career in the majors and minors. Bouncing between the Blue Jays and various other teams, he witnessed several instances of what he deemed “odd” offers. He recounted a specific situation where he received proposals with a significant 61% difference in monthly salary between two teams ($7,500 and $2,900).

It is crucial to note that Kratz’s claims are mere allegations, and MLB has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, his perspective, along with anecdotes from veterans like Frazier, warrants consideration and open discussion.

Beyond the controversy, Kratz’s career serves as a testament to his character and impact beyond statistics. Playing 332 games over 11 seasons, he carved a niche as a supportive figure and mentor, especially for younger players, particularly those from international backgrounds. His close bond with former Yankees prospect Deivi Garcia, affectionately called “padre,” and catching for Garcia’s MLB debut showcases his positive influence.

While the debate on “collusion” continues, Kratz’s perspective injects a human element into the intricate issue of player compensation and free agency. His experiences, along with the stories of other veteran players, remind us of the personal narratives and challenges intertwined with the world of professional baseball.

Throughout his professional career, the 43-year-old accumulated nearly $4 million in earnings.

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