When I look around the free agent market every single season and offseason I think to myself more and more than Major League Baseball is once again becoming a young man’s sport again. What do I mean? I can remember growing up a Yankees fan in the mid-2000’s where New York always had that one or two veteran players on the roster in the twilight of their career’s that filled important roles for the club. Then I watched as the Core Four aged and the Yankees were considered the old men of baseball. Now I watch the second youth movement in the Bronx during my lifetime and I see the invigoration of youth and it makes me notice the youth movement not only inside Yankee Stadium but around baseball as well… which is not a good thing for certain veterans who still find themselves looking for work despite the fact that spring training games have already begun.
The list of 30-year olds or older still on the free agent market is staggering when you think about it. Names like Pedro Alvarez, Joe Blanton, Billy Butler, Marlon Byrd, Chris Capuano, Coco Crisp, Doug Fister, Jeff Francouer, Sam Fuld, Ryan Howard, Edwin Jackson, Tim Lincecum, Kelly Johnson, Justin Morneau, Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Peavy, AJ Pierzynski and CJ Wilson to name a few still appear on the free agency market while many players have simply walked off into the sunset and retired. Now when I look at this list I don’t see many that will turn a non-contender into an immediate World Series contender but there are still some very helpful free agents out there on the market that can be had for simply money.
Blanton, for example, sported a 2.48 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 80 strikeouts in 80 innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year leaving me to wonder how with 30 teams vying for bullpen supremacy how the 36-year old is still looking for work.
At one point in the not-so-distant past you were just in your prime when you hit 30-years old but now in a league where the NL MVP Kris Bryant is just 24-years old and Mike Trout just won his second AL MVP Award at age 25 you just may be considered “old” at 30.
Ladies and gentleman this is truly becoming a young man’s sport again and you can tell it by looking at the MLB Trade Rumors free agent tracker. There is still good players out there on the market to be had but they aren’t signed because of their age. None of the aforementioned players would command huge salaries with maybe the exception being Papelbon so it almost has to be the age factor. When you also look at the number of veterans who simply took minor league deals with invitations to spring training the trend just gets scarier and scarier for veteran players. Will it change? Or will it simply get worse before it gets better? Stay tuned.