Pat Neshek: May Have to 'Burn the Whole System Down' Amid MLB, MLBPA Unrest

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2019

Philadelphia Phillies' Pat Neshek reacts after the final out in the team's 5-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Philadelphia Phillies reliever Pat Neshek believes the MLB collective bargaining agreement is in need of a complete overhaul.

In an interview with Gabe Lacques of USA Today, Neshek suggested that a strike is inevitable when the current agreement expires due in part to the manner in which teams have shied away from spending big money in free agency:

"Right now, there's going to be a strike, 100 percent, after '21. I won't be around, so I don't have a horse in the race. I don't want to see a strike.

"But there's always kind of been that handshake agreement where we're still going to value the older guys and not just totally [expletive] on them. And that's what's happening. So, I think you're going to have to burn the whole system down and start with that.

"[Owners] have a lot more to lose than us, I think. The players have been talking about, for the last couple of years, putting money aside and I think we're going to be ready for a fight. We're willing to go multiple years and I don't know if [owners] are willing to sacrifice."

The current CBA was ratified in December 2016, and it will expire following the 2021 season unless a new deal is reached.

The 38-year-old Neshek has spent 12 MLB seasons with seven different teams, and his career may be nearing its conclusion. The two-time All-Star told Lacques that he will likely retire after the 2020 season either by choice or by necessity provided teams aren't interested in signing him.

Many fellow veterans have gone unsigned this offseason, but the free-agency issue stretches far beyond older players. All-Star infielder Manny Machado didn't get signed until this week, and outfielder Bryce Harper is still unsigned heading into spring training despite being the top player on the market.

Starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel are also among the All-Star-caliber players who have yet to find a home.

Additionally, there is a service-time conundrum that players will likely want to fix in the new CBA. Currently, teams often put their top young prospects in the minors for the first month of the season despite the fact that they are MLB-ready. This is a tactic meant to keep them under team control for another year.

That will likely be the case with Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. even though he stands to be the Jays' top hitter when he does get added to the major league roster.

Neshek's comments suggest that the players are unhappy with several aspects of the current CBA, and that could lead to a major battle when it comes time to renew it.

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