Spare Parts: Doom and gloom for players, but not Harold Baines

Tuesday morning on Twitter featured a thinly sourced, low-level buzz connecting Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies. Like every other rumor involving Harper and Manny Machado, the winter’s two star free agents, nothing came of it.

What we were treated to was more speculation on the chances of a work stoppage, this one courtesy of Ken Rosenthal.

There can’t be any strong moves toward mobilization yet since the CBA doesn’t expire until after the 2021 season. But players, getting squeezed on both sides with service-time manipulation on the front side of the initial team control period and an ice-cold open market on the back, have authorized donating checks to the strike fund.

Otherwise, we’re familiar with just about all the causes, symptoms and the possibility of mutual destruction. However, I found one aspect of the article somewhat promising:

Seth Levinson – an agent who adapted to a changing free-agent landscape this offseason and negotiated early deals worth a combined $186.5 million for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, infielder Daniel Murphy and relievers Jeurys Familia, Joe Kelly and Justin Wilson – nonetheless fears the sport is in a dangerous place.

“Denial of the truth will lead to us locking arms and walking off the cliff together,” Levinson said. “I am concerned that the lessons of the past have been wiped away with time.

The first paragraph is what caught my eye. You can cross out the non-relievers because they’re the one area unaffected by the strife, but Eovaldi and Murphy did OK. ISE Baseball served Patrick Corbin well, too. While this offseason has been a Scott Boras joint, perhaps agents have a road map for getting better deals in this climate, but the strategy of the loudest one isn’t working. Or maybe there are a limited amount of teams that allow their gut to close a deal, and Levinson lucked out.

The second paragraph? Well, that’s why there’s a measles outbreak in the Northwest.

Spare Parts

Kopech said his highs and lows from last season included depression, so he had to make sure the inactivity from Tommy John surgery didn’t bring him down. Fellow TJS recipient Giolito gave him a place to stay, work, and surround himself with dogs.

As for Giolito, he took action this winter with weighted ball exercises to attempt to stop falling off the mound so much.

Harold Baines visited Cooperstown and marked his spot next to Jim Thome’s. Even with all the acrimony over his election, it’s going to be fun to learn more about Baines the person over this process. Maybe more for us than for him.

“I’ve played in front of 50,000 fans, but standing in front of a mic trying to speak … I can hit a 100-mile-an-hour fastball, but standing in front of a crowd, I have to be honest, is going to be tough,” Baines said. “But like they say, this too shall pass.”

Merrifield made his MLB debut at 27, so a major free agency payday was probably always going to elude him despite his wide array of marketable skills. Signing a four-year, $16.25 million guaranteed contract — with $2 million available in incentives — doesn’t help him toward that end, but it does protect him from a disaster while allowing him to reach free agency at the same time. The Royals don’t get any extra team control, but they could save somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent by avoiding the year-to-year arb process.

Grant Brisbee is leaving Vox. Apparently it’s on his own volition, but that leaves SB Nation without a baseball writer, since they’d previously laid off the others. He departed with a six-part feature to wrap up his “unwritten rules” series, including saying “we,” bringing a mitt, giving away foul balls to random children, and more.

(I agree 100 percent with his stance on foul balls. Don’t get in the way of kids when the foul balls are tossed into the crowd or rolling around the stands, but if you earn it, you shouldn’t be shamed for keeping it.)

The “Drunk History” episode with the Black Sox is now online. Here was the highlight to me:


  • Jim Margalus

    Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Greg Nix

If you’ll allow me a bit of bragging about my friends, two of the three Drunk History baseball storytellers (Carl Tart and Anais Fairweather) have been guests on Ducksnort (my non-Sox Machine podcast).

Greg Nix

He’s a genius. He was also very funny as Frank Thomas on one episode, if you haven’t heard it. 


When’s the scheduled return? ST?

Greg Nix

Most likely. Or whenever Manny/Bryce sign. 

Josh Nelson

Grant Brisbee is now with The Athletic.

lil jimmy

What took him so long?


CBA, cheap owners, writers wanting too much money or analytics apparently.


Has there been a decision on which Sox logo will go on Harold’s HOF cap?  


Harold said he wants the 83 cap but I guess that isn’t official yet. 

Trooper Galactus

Screw anti-vaxxers.


Nice story about Danny Farquhar’s free agency process. This is the happiest I’ve ever benn for a player who left the Sox for the Yankees.

Many teams reached out to Farquhar: “Probably half the league wanted to see my medicals,” he said. “It was an awesome process sorting through the teams and picking one. It’s extraordinarily exciting.”

One of the teams interested was the White Sox, who wanted to have him back.

“The White Sox gave me basically the same offer as the Yankees did. The White Sox said they had my medicals the whole time through. They liked me,” Farquhar said.

So why did he choose the Yankees?

“There were a lot of factors. It wasn’t like one thing that stands out more than anything. Maybe opportunity. I feel like the Yankees are a win-now organization. They’ll go with the best arm. I know the White Sox are still in the rebuild. I’m getting a little bit older for the rebuild. I’ll be 32 in February. I just felt like the Yankees were my best opportunity,” Farquhar said.


Harold performed extraordinarily well on the mic at the five hall of famers seminar at soxfest. That really was the best one I’ve ever been to. Harold stole the show. Says his speech will shoot for 7-10 minute range. I guess average is 12. Frank went 18. 


Frank Thomas listing every player he ever played with in under 20 minutes was impressive.