Dodgers’ Kiké Hernández alludes to collusion in free agency

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PHOENIX – New Los Angeles Dodgers utility man Kiké Hernández voiced his displeasure at the state of the free-agent market, twice ripping the process publicly Thursday, including on the YouTube show, “Foul Territory.”

Hernández, who re-signed with Los Angeles on a one-year, $4 million deal Monday, told the program “I’m not going to say the C-word, but I think the C-word needs a capital C,” a not-so-veiled allegation that major-league owners are colluding to suppress player markets.

“The timing of the calls (with teams) were very similar,” Hernández said on the show. “The numbers were pretty much the same throughout.

“I think the teams that are using these computer systems to project numbers, project salaries, they’re all using the same one and I think they all have the same password. So that’s how free agency is going, and it’s not just me.”

Collusion among owners is forbidden, and also difficult to prove. A Major League Baseball spokesperson declined to comment.

Hernández continued to express his frustration Thursday afternoon when speaking with reporters on-site at spring training, saying the drawn-out process that led him to sign three weeks into camp was similar to the experience of several other established free agents.

“I mean, it’s been terrible,” Hernández said. “There’s still a lot of really good quality baseball players, big leaguers that are more than capable of being everyday guys on a lot of teams, and the fact that they’re still out there, it’s a shame. It seems like a lot of the owners had an excuse in terms of the TV deal and things like that. It was a very weird offseason and it still is for some guys. It doesn’t seem like things are picking up either for some of those guys, which is shameful.”

The Dodgers, whose collective spending this winter has topped $1.2 billion, have pounced on a slow market. At least one other free agent addition, Teoscar Hernández, pointed to the slow market as motivation to take a one-year deal with Los Angeles, despite his hopes of landing a multi-year pact.

MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark echoed similar concerns to The Athletic this week, calling the state of the free-agent market — which still has notable unsigned players such as two-time Cy Young winner Blake Snell, left-hander Jordan Montgomery, third baseman Matt Chapman and former Dodger J.D. Martinez — “interesting.”

“I find it hard to believe any time major-league players, that can help teams win ballgames, are unsigned,” Clark said.

How much some teams will make from their television and media rights in coming years is uncertain in some markets, but Hernández and Clark both appeared to believe that teams are leveraging that concern too far to avoid player spending.

Hernández, a 10-year veteran, had a more fruitful free agency after the 2020 season, inking a two-year, $14 million deal with the Boston Red Sox and emerging as a productive contributor to their ALCS run that October before inking a one-year extension the following fall. His 2022 season was his worst full year as a big leaguer (.629 OPS), and he followed it with a .646 OPS between Boston and Los Angeles in 2023, a reunion met with rave reviews by Dodgers officials.

Hernández and the Dodgers expressed mutual interest throughout the winter, but it took so long in part due to a clog on the roster opened up by Monday’s trade of Manuel Margot. Hernández, who told “Foul Territory” his decision came down to the Dodgers (who had a higher offer, he said) and the New York Yankees, circled back with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. He had just one offer as of a few weeks ago, allowing the Dodgers the chance to slide in.

“I was waiting on the Dodgers but I was also waiting on other teams to make an offer and get serious and the timing of teams got serious as at the same time that the Dodgers made a move,” Hernández said.

Required reading

(Photo: Chris Coduto / Getty Images)





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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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