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LI Ducks open to talking with top MLB free agents

Long Island Ducks president Michael Pfaff at media

Long Island Ducks president Michael Pfaff at media day at Bethpage Ball Park in Central Islip on April 15, 2017. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Could Jake Arrieta be pitching in Central Islip this May?

The short answer? Probably not. But, with the major league season a shade under three weeks away and a number of high-profile free agents yet unsigned, the Long Island Ducks, who play in the independent Atlantic League, have their eyes peeled, and doors open, for any potential free agent who may fall through the cracks.

“The Atlantic League, for 20 years, has acted as a place for these players to utilize as a showcase,” Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff said. “We would be open to any discussions with any of them about utilizing it in the same way so many other successful players have.”

Arrieta, as well as pitchers Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Greg Holland, and former Mets second baseman Neil Walker remained unsigned as of Friday afternoon.

“I hope all the players find great landing spots with MLB clubs,” Pfaff said. “But, in the event they need an opportunity, they have our number. They can call me up.”

While Pfaff would not disclose any formal conversations the Ducks have had with job-seeking players, he did say that the Atlantic League was well thought of in the agent community as an alternative to the majors.

“Our league is about putting a winning product on the field” Pfaff said. “We’re not necessarily here to develop talent for a major league club, we’re here to win ballgames. We’re also here to help players get better opportunities in their career. A lot of those players who are free agents right now could very easily fit into that. I think that their agents, as well as the players, are still engaged in discussions with major league clubs and we’ll see what happens.”

From the agents he’s spoken to, Pfaff said he hasn’t sensed a frustration at the market’s glacial pace.

“All agents have a job to do, which is put their clients in the best position to succeed,” he said.

“The agents that I’ve spoken to seem to be working hard to do just that. I think that, ultimately, that hard work will pay off and guys will end up signing deals that make sense for them with clubs that desire their services.”

Pfaff is as puzzled as anyone else on why some high-profile players are still without jobs.

“There’s a lot of theories out there, but I honestly don’t know,” he said. “I can’t speak for them. I’m not an MLB club. I really have no idea.”

The Ducks open their season April 27 in Southern Maryland. Their home opener is May 4. They are coming off two straight losses in the Atlantic League Championship Series.

New York Sports