MESA, Ariz. — What kind of impact will the Cubs’ signing of Yu Darvish have on the slowest free-agent market in history?
Whether the six-year, $126 million deal serves as the first significant signpost for the market, or whether its timing sets off a chain reaction as camps open, activity finally seems to be increasing.
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“Free agency’s begun,” agent Scott Boras said Wednesday. He represents most of the highest-profile free agents who remain unsigned, including former Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta, closer Greg Holland, outfielder J.D. Martinez, first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas.
“For all my clients, the phone has been more akin to what you would expect for free agency in December,” Boras said. “It’s been more like that in the last week.”
He wouldn’t comment on his expectations regarding timelines or contracts for those clients.
A handful of smaller deals have been done since Darvish, including pitcher Bud Norris with the Cardinals on Monday and catcher Chris Stewart with the Braves on Wednesday.
An estimated 30 to 40 free agents are attending a closed spring camp run through the players’ union in Bradenton, Florida.
None of Boras’ clients are there, preferring to stay on personal training programs started months ago and designed to keep pace with spring prep work.
Florida tragedy hits home
The latest American high school shooting, which claimed at least 17 lives, happened at the Parkland, Florida, high school that Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and his brother attended.
Dozens of students and adults were shot at Stoneman Douglas High School by a former student, police said.
Rizzo, who worked out at the Cubs’ complex earlier in the day, later tweeted:
“Parkland and Coral Springs please stay strong! This is out of control and our country is in desperate need for change. I hope in this darkest of times back home this brings everyone together and we can find love. You’re all in my prayers.”
From T-shirts to canvas
Manager Joe Maddon’s latest foray into inspirational slogans and themes involves the unveiling of art with a message. He commissioned Florida artist Jason Skeldon to create six paintings with baseball-related thoughts through lenses of such classic artists as Salvador Dali and Michelangelo.
“Just small, simple, direct messages that a guy can hold onto,” said Maddon, who plans to use the paintings to help promote the arts among students in Chicago “and beyond” and to eventually auction the paintings to benefit his charitable foundation.
In one painting he shared with the team Wednesday, Dali is wearing a catcher’s mask, and among the scrawled messages in the frame is a paraphrased Dali quote: “Have no fear of perfection. You will never reach it.”
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