Free agency has been a blessing for players looking to cash in on their performance by getting paid by the highest bidder. Unfortunately, for fans, this means that players who are home-grown and on the teams they followed as kids have the ability to depart for more money.
Brian McCann, who was born in Georgia and has been on the Braves since they drafted him, declined their tender this off-season in hopes of cashing in on a multi-year mega contract. I understand that players want to be paid what they are worth. I understand that players want to cash in on their short professional careers. I wish that THEY would understand how much more they are appreciated by fans that have seen them grow up and followed them forever.
With today’s free agent market, it is easy for a player to give his talents to whoever has the most money to spend. That may be why Derek Jeter was able to stay a Yankee his entire career. If he had been drafted by the Royals and had the career that he has, he might have been a Yankee eventually anyways. Jeter wasn’t born in New York, but he has spent more time there than he has in Kalamazoo, Michigan where he grew up.
Joe Mauer is a player who actually has been with the same team since he was drafted, and he is from Minnesota. Whether or not Mauer stays with the Twins long-term through the rest of his career is yet to be seen, but there are very few Joe Mauers in today’s game.
Home might be where the heart is, but home isn’t always where the money is. Tim Hudson decided to sign with the Atlanta Braves after he left Oakland not only because it was a good offer at the time, but also because it was very close to where he grew up. He attended Auburn and had connections close to the Atlanta area, and he has thrived in his stint with the Braves up to this point. Ironically, he may not be there next year.
Obviously, it is in a player’s best interest to make as much money as he can since careers are short and baseball contracts are not as guaranteed as other sports. It would be nice to see some players give up some of that money though to stay with the teams that they have been with from the start, especially if it is their hometown. In McCann’s case, the Braves would be better off releasing B.J. Upton and using that money to resign McCann instead.