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Although MLB owners and the MLBPA haven’t yet agreed on a deal, Dodgers ace Max Scherzer isn’t holding his tongue on the state of the sport. The three-time Cy Young winner accused teams of “tanking” to stockpile picks, and we couldn’t be happier he’s speaking up.
Tanking has turned from a strategy to a league-wide plan utilized by far too many owners in baseball. Even though the Dodgers aren’t the ones who are tanking, Scherzer has apparently had enough.
“This negotiation is about the integrity of the game from our eyes,” Scherzer said in an interview with the L.A. Times. “We feel as players that too many teams have gone into a season without any intent to win during the past.”
Too often, fans of baseball associate tanking with small market teams, but Max Scherzer brings up the fact that large markets are involved as well.
“Even though that can be a strategy to win in future years, we’ve seen both small-market and large-market clubs embrace tanking, and that cannot be the optimal strategy for the owners.”
— New York Post (@nypost) January 5, 2022
And here’s the real kicker: Scherzer brought up service time manipulation, which is essentially leaving qualified big leaguers in the minors for reasons other than helping the organization win games.
“Teams are putting long-term discounted extensions in front of players before a player even makes his debut,” he said. “They’re told, ‘Take the extension and you will be in the big leagues tomorrow, but if you don’t sign it, you will stay in the minor leagues.'”
He’s right. Small market teams are obviously engaged in this tomfoolery to acquire assets without any up-front investment from ownership, and big markets are following in their footsteps despite their flexible pockets. Most notably, the Chicago Cubs left Kris Bryant in triple-A back in 2015, even though Bryant was then the best player in the organization. They left him down to “develop” — at least that’s what they told the press. In reality, they left him there to delay his service time and maintain control of him for another season.
Although the Cubs aren’t directly “tanking” in that situation, they’re not putting the best players on the field and that’s not okay. Organizations aren’t prioritizing winning the way they used to, and the sport is much worse off because of that change in mindset.
Tanking needs to be dealt with and it’s up to commissioner Rob Manfred to do what he can to manage this strategy. Knowing him, nothing will be done because he’s too busy playing hardball with the MLBPA in midst of our current lockout. Baseball’s in a bad place, man. Props to Scherzer for standing up, though.