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MLB Union Leader Tony Clark Comments on Amount of Unsigned Players

Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, smiles as he sits down to talk with writers after a closed-door meeting with San Francisco Giants players in the clubhouse on his first stop to meet with players from all the MLB teams Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
Joe PantornoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2016

Head of the Major League Baseball Players Association Tony Clark isn't pleased that there are a number of free agents still on the market with spring training just around the corner. 

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training as early as Feb. 17, and some big names like outfielder Dexter Fowler, shortstop Ian Desmond and first baseman Pedro Alvarez are still looking for new deals. 

Clark spoke with the Associated Press, via ESPN.com

I think it's disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home. I don't think it's in anyone's best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining.

Per the AP, Fowler, Desmond and pitcher Yovani Gallardo all turned down one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offers from their respective teams in November, and they are still without a team.

Here are the list of players that received qualifying offers this offseason, per MLB.com's Doug Miller:

2015 MLB Qualifying Offers
PlayerQualifying Offer FromTeam Signed With
Zack GreinkeLos Angeles DodgersArizona Diamondbacks
Jordan ZimmermanWashington NationalsDetroit Tigers
Hisashi IwakumaSeattle MarinersSeattle Mariners
Yovani GallardoTexas RangersUnsigned
Brett AndersonLos Angeles DodgersLos Angeles Dodgers
Wei-Yin ChenBaltimore OriolesMiami Marlins
John LackeySt. Louis CardinalsChicago Cubs
Jeff SamardzijaChicago White SoxSan Francisco Giants
Ian KennedyPittsburgh PiratesKansas City Royals
Marco EstradaToronto Blue JaysToronto Blue Jays
Jason HeywardSt. Louis CardinalsChicago Cubs
Alex GordonKansas City RoyalsKansas City Royals
Dexter FowlerChicago CubsUnsigned
Colby RasmusHouston AstrosHouston Astros
Justin UptonSan Diego PadresDetroit Tigers
Chris DavisBaltimore OriolesBaltimore Orioles
Matt WietersBaltimore OriolesBaltimore Orioles
Howie KendrickLos Angeles DodgersLos Angeles Dodgers
Ian DesmondWashington NationalsUnsigned
Daniel MurphyNew York MetsWashington Nationals

The 43-year-old Clark is the first player to ever lead the union and has a big task facing him. Clark will begin to negotiate for a new labor contract on Dec. 1 when the old deal expires.

The last deal was signed in November 2011 when some big changes were made. The new playoff format that had the Wild Card Game was included along with the declaration that the Houston Astros would move to the American League in 2013. 

What concerns Clark is what commissioner Rob Manfred, who at the time was head labor negotiator, per the AP, wrote regarding qualifying offers extended toward free agents. 

The AP described what he wrote.

[Manfred] estimated eight to 10 free agents annually would receive qualifying offers -- the average of the 125 highest-paying contracts -- which attaches the loss of a top amateur draft pick for a team that signs a new player. There were nine offers in 2012 and the number climbed to 13 the following year, 12 in 2014 and 20 this offseason, when there was a deep free-agent class.

Clark believes that this notion is "damaging the concept of competitive balance." 

With the rules in place, it takes a lot for another team to sign a free agent. Not only does it carry the possibility of overpaying for a free agent, but the loss of a high draft pick is a price too steep for many teams. 

Because of those rules, players stay on the market longer and have less time to assimilate to the new team that they sign with. It could have a big effect on their numbers and damage their chances to succeed in their new setting.

Clark has plenty of time to prepare, though, as negotiations don't start for more than eight months. Even so, one can expect that this issue will be at the top of his list of points to discuss. 

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