By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(670 The Score) Major League Baseball is more of a young man’s game than ever, and that point continues to be made with each next class of available, established hitters that draws little or no signing interest.
Clubs are increasingly content to promote position players from within, relying more on the preferred combination of contract control and youthful bat speed that can keep up with the high velocity pitching now seen regularly from both starters and power-arm bullpens across the game.
Bernstein and Goff Show listener Whitley from Ravenswood has been tracking this trend of late and noted that there were 84 players on an MLB contract in 2017 with at least 1,000 career hits. Included in this group are players like Jhonny Peralta, Aaron Hill and Rickie Weeks who were released during the year and didn’t return, as well as David Wright, who remains signed despite injury. Not included are Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton, who are effectively done despite having contracts last season.
Keep in mind that free agency began six weeks ago, with an exclusive negotiating window that expired four days thereafter. Of the 84 total players with 1,000 career hits as of last season, 30 are free agents. One of those — Carlos Beltran — has retired. On Friday morning, Melvin Upton Jr. signed a minor league deal with the Indians.
The rest all remain unsigned this offseason. There were another 21 players with 850 career hits with a reasonable shot at reaching 1,000 this year, of which eight became free agents. None from that group has signed either, Whitley observes, not even to a minor league deal with no guarantee of a spring training invite.
For veteran hitters on the market, it’s no longer about what you once did and much more about what somebody younger may be able to do for a lot less.