Let the gamesmanship begin
Sunday's deadline won't make U.S. sports fans overlook the Eagles-Cowboys kickoff, but big-league executives are treating it like the New Hampshire primary. We're talking money, intrigue, jockeying for position -- everything but kissing babies at the Dixville Notch diner before voters go to the polls.
Lots of baseball officials cite Sunday's deadline as a big reason why only 22 of 210 free agents have reached agreements so far this winter. The salary arbitration deadline and Dec. 20 non-tender date are a recipe for inertia in the modern baseball era. They're central components in what agent Alan Meersand calls the "glacial mating dance."
The Dec. 7 deadline became part of baseball's labor agreement in 1985 as a way to give teams first crack at players who might go elsewhere through free agency. Five years later, draft-pick compensation became part of the process.
The mechanics work like this:
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