FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Union head Tony Clark is concerned that free agents who would cost a team a draft choice for signing them are still without jobs.
Of the 13 players who would require compensation, three remain unsigned with teams already at spring training — shortstop Stephen Drew, designated hitter Kendrys Morales and right-hander Ervin Santana.
"The way the free agent market has played itself out over the last couple of years suggests that draft pick compensation and the free agent market in general is a concern that we're paying attention to, obviously," Clark said Saturday after meeting with Boston Red Sox players.
"We still have guys, very good players, quality players that can help any number of clubs who are still on the market, some with draft-pick compensation, some not."
Teams that make qualifying offers to their own free agents are entitled to a draft pick as compensation if the player signs elsewhere.
Making his first tour of training camps since becoming executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Clark said the compensation issue would be "a topic of discussion," although the current collective bargaining agreement runs through the 2016 season.
"There's certain criteria that's going to have to be met for a CBA to be opened up (before then) and I'm not sure that's happened," Clark said. "I don't think it's in anyone's best interest what's happening right now, the clubs or the players, but if it's something that has to be addressed come 2016, then we'll address it then.
"The connection of the restrictions that were put on the draft along with the value that those clubs are putting on those draft picks is suggesting that they all seem to be functioning the same way related to those free agents who carry that compensation."
Players have the option of accepting their team's qualifying offer and avoiding free agency. Clark said it's up to them to decide what to do.
"We believe it's in everyone's best interests that the teams who want the best players have an opportunity to access those best players," he said. "The idea that there is a climate right now that doesn't appear to afford everybody an opportunity to do so for whatever reason is a concern. How we change that going forward, we'll have to see."