Tempe, Ariz. — Players’ union head Tony Clark says Adam Wainwright’s comments about a possible strike were in line with widespread concern he hears from his members about a free-agent market they claim has become dysfunctional.
Starting his tour of spring training camps, Clark said he isn’t drawing conclusions about the market based on Manny Machado’s $300 million, 10-year contract with the San Diego Padres, which would be the second-highest contract in baseball history. Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are among dozens of free agents still looking for a deal.
“We’re glad Manny found a home. We’re curious as to why it took as long as it did,” Clark said Thursday. “And we’re also still concerned about the players that are out there that their phone isn’t ringing and that they haven’t had an opportunity and camps are opened up and the season’s opened up and we’re in a position where fans and players alike are asking ‘Where are we held up and what’s going on?’”
Clark, a former All-Star first baseman who hit 156 homers in seven years with the Tigers from 1995-2001 who will visit all 30 teams, said the union has heard from players who have been contacted by multiple teams in a small window of time after going a long period without hearing from any clubs.
“The idea that there is radio silence for as long as it is and then suddenly the phone rings, all in on one day and that rings from multiple teams, is something we’re interested in looking into,” Clark said.
Major league front offices are using analytics and models to determine the worth of free agents more than ever before, but that hasn’t stopped some of baseball’s biggest names from criticizing the decision-making process.
Ex-Tiger Max Scherzer said there are too many teams trying not to win, and all the rebuilding “poisons the game.” Former Tiger Justin Verlander thinks the current economic approach pursued by some teams will continue to drive away fans.
Rain, rain, go away
The spring training season started with a splash. Just not the kind fans hoped for.
In the first major league exhibition game of the year, the Mariners and Athletics were rained out Thursday in Mesa, Ariz.
The Mariners roughed up Jerry Blevins and led 5-0 in the middle of the second inning when it was called — so in a game where the stats don’t count, they really won’t count.
“We have our feet wet now, literally,” said Athletics manager Bob Melvin, who played for the Tigers in 1985.
Dodgers to honor Newcombe
The Dodgers will honor pitching great Don Newcombe by adding a commemorative No. 36 patch to their uniforms this season.
Newcombe died Tuesday at 92.
The team said Thursday that Newcombe will be saluted in pregame ceremonies on April 27, when he is inducted into the Legends of Dodger Baseball.
Newcombe, along with Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella, helped pave the way for blacks to play in the major leagues.
He won the Cy Young and National League Most Valuable Player awards in 1956 with the Dodgers.
Indians sign reliever Clippard
The Indians and two-time All-Star reliever Tyler Clippard have agreed to a minor league contract.
Clippard went 4-3 with a 3.67 ERA in 73 games for the Blue Jays in 2018. Over 12 major-league seasons, he’s 52-46 with a 3.16 ERA and 68 saves for eight clubs. He’s also appeared in 14 postseason games, three in the 2015 World Series with the Mets.
Around the horn
Former Phillies slugger Ryan Howard has joined ESPN as an analyst on “Baseball Tonight.”
Howard was a three-time All-Star and the 2006 NL MVP.
... Longtime Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo died after collapsing at the Red Sox’s spring training ballpark in Fort Meyers, Fla. He was 62.