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Union: Dead time in free-agent market ‘threat to our game’

Tony Clark

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization’s headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner’s replacement as head of the baseball players’ union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

AP

NEW YORK (AP) The head of the baseball players’ association expressed concern over a second straight offseason that has seen Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and many other free agents remain without deals less than a month before spring training.

Union head Tony Clark tells The Associated Press “all the dead time in the last two free-agent markets is a larger threat to our game than any supposed dead time between pitches.”

Wanting to increase the pace of games and concerned about a drop in offense, management has made proposals to the union that include a pitch clock and rules changes. The players’ association says it will respond, and unlike last year the union appears open to discuss the issues.

Against this backdrop, just 58 of the 164 players who exercised the right to become free agents following the World Series had announced deals through Thursday afternoon. That is up from 45 of 166 on the same date last offseason, but this year’s free-agent class contains far more accomplished players. Those still available included Harper, Machado, pitcher Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel.

Major League Baseball declined to respond to Clark, spokesman Pat Courtney said.