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Why MLB needs to fix its interminable slog of an offseason

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Tomase: MLB offseason shouldn’t be endless exhaustion originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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If there was an official Major League Baseball off-season insect, it would be cricket.

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That sound you don’t hear is a stampede of free agents looking for a new home. The World Series ended almost three weeks ago, and the hot-stove stays cooler to the touch than a wood-rusting Coleman Classic.

Of all the things baseball does wrong in the name of efficiency, the offseason is a low-key disaster. A process that once dominated headlines for weeks on end – where will A-Rod go?!? did The Rocket really sign with the Blue Jays!?? — now reflects the season in which this occurs as we prepare for a long, cold, dreary winter.

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The on-field product is in need of a major overhaul and that is where the sport is rightly focusing its efforts, but heck, the transaction deadline will go a long way in making the off-season busy.

The NBA and NFL have done it. The NFL free agency is basically over through the weekend and deserves all the coverage. The NBA, meanwhile, is just as attractive in July—when free agents move, blockbusters dwindle, and superteams form—as it does in June during the Finals. These sports have a salary cap that requires immediate action, but still.

Baseball? Superstar agents are not averse to dragging out negotiations for spring training to score an extra zero. And the teams will wait for everyone else, because that’s how they hunt for great deals.

What you get is the worst of all worlds: fans are losing interest in the top end of the market somewhere around the pralines they find on day 4 of their advent calendars, and lineups are formed through a faucet, not a fire hose .

The biggest offseason story is the Mets re-signing Edwin Diaz for five years and $102 million that should buy Timmy a lot of pipes. After that, maybe the Yankees will outplay first baseman Anthony Rizzo, or the Angels will catch left-hander Tyler Anderson. The second largest contract signed so far belongs to Robert Suarez of San Diego (five years, $46 million), and I guess it will be news to some of you that he is a 31-year-old rookie average pitcher who is not so I have long been working at a construction site in my native Venezuela.

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It’s absolute madness that Aaron Judge is after one of his greatest offensive seasons. Ever hardly deserves any coverage. He reportedly in San Francisco this week to meet the Giantsbut his visit has all the urgency of someone popping into Oracle Park as soon as he checks out the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf and grabs a taco at the Embarcadero.

Similarly, the Red Sox stated Xander Bogaerts their A-1, super-duper, like-dripping-Ryan-Gosling-raises-Rachel-McAdams-in-the-Notebook, winter’s top priority, and he’s riding a wave somewhere in Aruba as the clock ticks and temperatures drop. So much for urgency.

This is how the off-season should go: Free agents are courted in November amid rampant speculation. Some sign. Some are waiting for more. It all comes to a head in early December at the Winter Meetings, which become a real highlight as the lineup race reaches a frenzy.

When the winter meetings end, the off-season ends. Phillies president Dave Dombrowski has been pushing for a signing deadline for years, partly because the front offices need a break, but also because let’s get on with it already.

“Only our sport is like that,” he said during his time with the Red Sox.

Dombrowski is an exception in today’s game, where the front offices are forced into inactivity due to analysis paralysis. He used to handle all family matters as ruthlessly as Michael Corleone; for example, he acquired Chris Sale, Mitch Moreland, and Tyler Thornburgh in one day at the 2016 Winter Meetings, and then pretty much wiped his hands on the offseason.

Players and teams spend all winter making decisions just because they can. Put them to work, end this soul-sucking exhaustion, and bring the action back to the baseball offseason, because right now, if the crickets didn’t chirp, there wouldn’t be a sound at all.


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