As free agency continues to drag into the start of spring training, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright thinks Major League Baseball is going to have a significant problem on its hands.
“Unless something changes, there's going to be a strike, 100 percent. I'm just worried people are going to walk out midseason. ... Thirty owners need to be answering that because you have one of the best players in the game that needs a job and no one is signing him. You've got 30 owners who have a sabermetric box that will sign players when they were in that box. They don't take any intangibles or anything else into play and that's a sad thing.
Chicago Cubs reliever Brad Brach shared similar comments with reporters Friday, via NBC Sports Chicago's Tony Andracki:
"I really don't know [what to make of the state of free agency]. We talked to certain teams and they told us, 'We have an algorithm and here's where you fall in that scale.' It's just kinda weird that all offers are the same that come around the same time and everybody tells you there's an algorithm, but you figure teams have different ones, but I don't know."
The state of MLB free agency has become a hot topic as marquee players have waited months into the offseason before signing contracts over the past two years.
Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer went through the winter last year before agreeing to deals in February.
With all 30 teams reporting to spring training this week, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel are among the best free agents still available.
Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander vented his frustration at the pace of free agency on Twitter this week.
"System is broken," he wrote. "They blame 'rebuilding' but that's BS. You're telling me you couldn't sign Bryce or Manny for 10 years and go from there? Seems like a good place to start a rebuild to me. [Age] 26-36 is a great performance window too."
Per ESPN.com's Jeff Passan, 18 out of 30 MLB teams are at least $50 million below the $206 million luxury-tax threshold.
There is still time for for players like Harper, Machado, Kimbrel and Keuchel to negotiate deals that will make them happy. The regular season doesn't begin until March 28.
But the ongoing strife between players and owners could leave MLB at risk of its first work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike.