We’ve made no secret of our love for hockey, but one thing that’s no fun at all about hockey is its free-agent signing period. The trend lately has been for virtually every player of note to sign within the first 24 hours, meaning once that day passes, you’re left with no more news, no more rumors, and no more wild speculation for the rest of the summer. There’s nothing to pay attention to until training camp opens. Thankfully, baseball’s free-agent signing period, which began at midnight last night, isn’t like that at all.
Last year, it was nearly Christmas when the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, and, if memory serves, Manny Ramirez didn’t decide to re-sign with Los Angeles until roughly Memorial Day. Of course, lesser players will sign contracts here and there, but the real prizes — the Matt Hollidays and John Lackeys of the world that will build up hopes for 2010 and beyond — are sure to take their time. When there’s no salary cap to keep teams from upping their offers, there’s little reason for a premier free agent to make a decision before at least attempting to generate a bidding war.
And yes, we’re aware that this is probably not a discussion that’s going on in Pittsburgh or Kansas City this morning. The Pirates don’t find themselves in many bidding wars these days. But the Mets and Yankees will spend money — the Mets because they have to, and the Yankees because they’re the Yankees — and they’ll both end up with some shiny new toys over the next two months. And some team, somewhere, is going to land a player that its fans will cheer on for the better part of the next decade. These things just probably won’t happen today. And that’s a good thing.