As the time for pitchers and catchers to report draws closer, it’s looking more and more likely that unsigned free agents will host a spring training camp of their own.
With many top players still on the market and camps set to open next week, there had already been a few reports that a free-agents-only spring training might happen. The most comprehensive one yet came tonight from Tim Brown at Yahoo. The union is looking at potential spaces in Florida and Arizona and talking to coaches and other personnel, the report states. Brown’s piece was quickly backed up by work from his Yahoo colleague Jeff Passan and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal:
As Brown notes, this has happened before—in 1995, after baseball’s last strike, when the union hosted a camp for unsigned players in Homestead, Florida. While players weren’t paid to practice with the “Homestead Homies,” the union arranged for free travel, rooms and meals. (This retrospective on the situation from Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer is a good read.) There’s precedent, then, but the union setting up a camp like this immediately after a months-long strike that seriously fractured player-team relationships and the free agency market in general certainly feels different than doing the same just a year after the players agreed to a new CBA. If the situation doesn’t change, though, they might not have much of a choice.