Ryne Oshiro, Staff Writer
In any occupation, the people with the most experience often get the nod in certain jobs, such as a managerial position, because of the time and effort they have dedicated to the company. Should the same go for professional sports, such as baseball? It’s a young person’s game, so it would make sense that players aged 19-29 are taking over. In life, the old and wise often make the best decisions. In a locker room, the wise veteran can often connect with younger players because they have the experience of being in the sport for so long. So why are there so many good veteran players still in free agency?
One of the two biggest free agents just signed with the San Diego Padres for $300 million over 10 years. Yes, Manny Machado signed for $30 million dollars per year. Although an amazing accomplishment, this doesn’t take away from the many other big named players still available. Players such as Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, and even Bryce Harper still need to find a squad for the 2019 season. With new technology and statistics based on things such as Wins Above Replacement (WAR), managing offices of major league teams are often passing up on the aged veterans, because they haven’t produced the sort of numbers they once did.
Two players who come into the discussion are Hanley Ramirez and Bartolo Colon. Both are way out of their prime years, but both bring a presence to the clubhouse that these young players may need. Veterans may not have the athletic ability they once had, but what they can bring is knowledge and the ability to teach the younger players certain skills that even coaches and general managers can’t.
The best example that comes to mind for the Mariners is Ichiro Suzuki. Suzuki, who is far past his years of collecting 200 hits and stealing numerous bases for the Mariners, is not only a vital part of the team, but also a great representation of doing anything possible to help a team succeed. The biggest news for the Mariners in the off-season was the signing of the young lefty from Japan, Yusei Kikuchi. Kikuchi and Suzuki are both from Japan, and Suzuki is helping Kikuchi adapt to a new culture. The veteran presence of having someone that Kikuchi looks up to, especially a Japanese legend like Ichiro, plays a pivotal role in how comfortable Kikuchi will be this season for the Mariners.
Sure, the game is getting younger each day, but ask any superstar player, and they will often give their credit to a veteran presence who had helped and shaped them into the player they are. Instead of adding the 300 million dollar signee, maybe teams should look toward the cheaper veteran who can help the young player on his path to becoming a superstar.