Why George Springer should be a free agent this winter

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George Springer should be a free agent right now. He should be taking calls from interested teams right now, weighing offers, dreaming about possibilities.

If Springer had been a free agent this fall, then presumably, the Houston Astros would have had to work aggressively to keep one of their best players and would have had to bid against others to keep Springer for the 2020 season. If Springer were a free agent -- as he should be -- he would be near the top of the board in Keith Law's free-agent rankings, behind Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon, in all likelihood, and ahead of many, many dozens of others.

But he isn't because in keeping with what has been standard operating procedure for most teams, the Astros manipulated Springer's service time by tethering him to the minor leagues for a few extra days. If Springer had started the 2014 season with Houston on Opening Day, as he deserved, he would have been eligible for free agency this fall.

There's no getting around this truth: His major league career started with that act of bad faith by his employers, for the sake of their financial interest.