“A question arose as to where our clients would work out. Our clients will certainly take advantage of the union facilities as their schedule allows. Where they work out is a individual choice based upon convenience. Understandably, the camps do not allow our training staff to attend and many of our clients are comfortable continuing their [Spring Training] routines and preparation at one of Boras Corps facilities.”
Feb. 8, 1:46pm: The MLBPA camp is taking shape. Rosenthal reports (links to Twitter account) that it’ll be held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Here are a few additional details that the union has provided in an email that Rosenthal obtained:
- Bo Porter will lead the proceedings; no personal trainers will be allowed
- the union is arranging travel, housing, per diems, and insurance
- camp will open next Wednesday and run through at least March 4th
Interestingly, some players under contract are expected to partake before reporting to their respective organizations’ camps. That’s intended as a “show of support,” says Rosenthal, but at present it does not sound as if any players intend to miss any time with their teams.
Importantly, clients of Scott Boras are not expected to participate, per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The super-agent, who represents many of the top remaining free agents, says that he’ll continue to rely upon his and his clients’ own resources “to make sure our players are prepared when they reach agreements.”
Feb. 7: With more than 100 players unsigned in the week before Spring Training is set to kick off, the Major League Baseball Players Association is laying the groundwork to host training camps for free agents, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that a Spring Training for free agents “will happen.” Meanwhile, Brown’s colleague, Jeff Passan, tweets that a camp for unsigned players could kick off as soon as next Tuesday — the same day that many pitchers and catchers around the league will begin reporting to their teams’ respective Spring Training camps.
To be clear, while there are indeed more than 100 players that logged 50+ plate appearances or 20+ innings last year who remain unsigned, not all of those players would be reasonably expected to sign a Major League deal even in a more conventional offseason. MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker for the 2017-18 offseason reveals 110 players who’ve not yet agreed to a deal, though nearly half of the players on that list seem unlikely to sign a big league deal either due to poor performance, lack of track record or injury. That said, there are still as many as 50 fairly clear-cut candidates for Major League deals, plus another handful of borderline options that could go either way in most offseasons. It’s not clear exactly how many free agents would attend a voluntary camp for unsigned players.
The union, according to Brown, is eyeing locations in both Arizona and Florida, with Bradenton’s IMG Baseball Academy one potential location. The MLBPA is also trying to find coaches and other personnel to help staff the facility and create an atmosphere that resembles a traditional Spring Training setting as closely as possible.
If (or perhaps more appropriately, when) a training camp for unemployed players ultimately comes to be, it’ll mark the first time that such measures have been necessary since 1995, when unsigned players organized a similar camp during MLB’s most recent labor stoppage. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick recently took a look back at that ’95 training camp, speaking to D-backs hitting coach Dave Magadan, who was one of the free agents that participated in the camp, about the experience.