The Major League Baseball Players Association will open its own spring training camp for the first time since the end of the 1994-95 strike, inviting free agents to work out at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the union, said Thursday the camp would open Tuesday and workouts would start the following day under Bo Porter, the Houston Astros’ manager in 2013 and ‘14. The camp is scheduled to run through March 4, and the union has the option to extend the camp through the end of the month.
More than 100 players who exercised their right to become free agents last November are without final agreements. Teams start spring training workouts next Wednesday.
The agent Scott Boras represents 15 free agents seeking jobs, a group that includes J.D. Martinez, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Jake Arrieta. His company has its own training facilities in North Miami, Fla., and Newport Beach, Calif., and he is not sure whether his clients will work out at his facilities or IMG.
“They certainly will have the option to use either,” he said.
The union sent an email to agents announcing the decision. The camp will be open to the players who became free agents under Article XXB of the sport’s collective bargaining agreement, the most prominent group on the market.
“The location is a dedicated, major league-caliber site, with multiple full/half fields, a private locker room, dedicated training staff and an advanced workout facility with a trainer and strength and conditioning coordinator,” the union said.
Given the unusually slow nature of free agency this winter, a number of players remained unsigned, with spring trainingopening for at least two teams by February 12 and most Major League Baseball teams the day after.
Beyond the free agents intending to use the camp as a means of preparation, several signed players are likely to appear at the union-sponsored camp to show support for the players still on the open market before reporting to their respective teams, according to The Athletic.
Personal trainers will not be allowed inside the facility. Players will be provided workout gear, and the union is arranging liability insurance, travel and housing. Players will be given per diems. They are to bring their own bats and shoes.
The players’ association paid $60,000 in 1995 to rent a training site for three weeks in Homestead, Fla. Twenty-nine players were there when it opened, including Dave Stewart, Todd Stottlemyre, Chris Sabo, Howard Johnson and Mickey Tettleton.
They wore green, blue, black and red jerseys, along with matching caps.
“We’re calling ourselves the Homestead Hobos. We’re all misfits,” the utility player Randy Velarde said.
Larry Walker, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk and Kevin Brown were among the top stars who did not attend the camp because they thought they were close to reaching deals.