WASHINGTON — In an October study by the Remington Research Group, Americans had a more favorable opinion of Major League Baseball than the NFL for the first time in a generation.
But after an unusually slow offseason, players may be willing to go nuclear for the first time in a generation, threatening a strike as a solution to teams not spending in free agency.
Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who flirted with the Washington Nationals last offseason, floated the idea at the Dodgers’ Fan Fest last weekend.
“Maybe I could say that, for me, maybe we should go on strike and fix that,” Jansen told the L.A. Times, in reference to a high number of premier free agents left on the market. “Maybe not. I think it’s a thing we maybe address that to the union. I’m not going to say that to you guys.”
And then he said a bunch more words to “you guys” in the media.
“That is something we might have to address, so you don’t have a lot of Miami Marlins doing this,” Jansen said. “Maybe it’s an adjustment for us, as the players’ union. Maybe we have to go on strike, to be honest with you. That’s how I feel about it.”
MLB and its players’ union have had labor peace for 23 years after the 1994-95 player strike that deprived everyone of a World Series.
[Editor’s Note: Ironically, it was the canceling of the playoffs and World Series that may have cost Montreal its franchise and brought professional baseball back to Washington, D.C. But that’s a story for another day.]
However, this is an offseason in which the Miami Marlins have slashed payroll by trading marquee players, the big spenders have been cautious about the strict luxury tax for exceeding the soft cap, and there seem to be a lot of franchises entering rebuilding mode.
As of Jan. 30, some of the big names still on the open market include Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez, with no obvious landing spots taking shape.
Considering that this is the first year of the new collective bargaining agreement, it would likely be a terrible look for players to immediately go on strike.
The players’ union has reportedly filed one complaint with the league office in order to investigate how the Marlins are spending the money that gets shared with them as part of the league’s competitive balance.
One potential outcome that seems more likely than a strike in the short-term: a Spring Training camp for free agents: