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Daily opt-out contracts are the wave of the future

The foundation was set hundreds of years ago in the early 2000s when opt-outs began to be commonplace in large contracts.

A player signs a contract on the field, presumably only hours before a game starts.
A player signs a contract on the field, presumably only hours before a game starts.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Technological advancements always have the potential to disrupt society at large. Back in the early 2000s (hundreds of years ago!), the invention of the smartphone revolutionized how people interacted with the world around them. People stared at roughly five or six inches of space yet viewed the world. Transportation was changed in that people could call what essentially amounted to a taxi without actually having to call, technically. Of course, the transportation industry was again thrown on its head when warping technology was invented. However, the transportation industry was not the only industry impacted by the invention and spread of warp travel. Sports have been affected as well.

The large expanse of America and the great distances covered by teams prior to warp travel ensured that in general players would stay on their teams for at least one season. Not wanting to move constantly, players sold their services and were bound by contract to provide their services for a season's time. The development of warp travel changed that system.

Harkening back to the early 2000s again, it was common practice for baseball teams to give players opt-outs in large contracts. It started because it worked to the benefit of both team and player. Teams were potentially on the hook for less money because players were willing to take less money in exchange for the opt out. Players relished the choice to re-enter free agency if their performance warranted a larger contract. However, traveling long distances over long periods of time was still a thing, so contracts were given out in yearly increments.

As technology developed, MLB also finally noticed how people engaged with the game. People loved playing daily fantasy sports (a market now dominated by VegaDraftDuel), which was tantamount to gambling. People also loved following trade and free agent rumors. The fans cared less about keeping players on their team than following the ebb and flow of the sport. The invention of warp technology allowed baseball to accentuate the ebb and flow through what is now the common way to flesh out a team: daily contracts.

On a nightly basis, teams now sign entirely new players to contracts and transport them to the city the next morning. The player plays the game and can still return home. Not the hotel room. Not the rented apartment in the city. The place that player has chosen to take root.

Expanding on seasonal opt-outs, this has benefits for both the team and the player. As mentioned, players can easily return home every night and do not need to think about moving to a new city each season, as was commonplace in the 2000s. Teams reduce their risk of taking on long-term guaranteed money; they are essentially playing daily fantasy sports themselves. The indentured servant system of pre-arbitration and arbitration is long-gone; players are always paid what they are worth on the market. Teams are no longer stuck with underperforming or injured players (of course, that would be a HUGE downside for players if technological advancements ignored medicine. Most players are injured for one or two days, maximum.).

While it is common practice, not all players and teams agree to daily contracts. Many core players are locked up by teams to longer-term contracts for certainty and sanity. Although technology has advanced quite a bit, the front offices of teams are still human and do not want to sign 25 new players every single day.

Despite the known inputs, the magnitude of the effect this has had on the industry was unexpected. You can now see fans frantically blinking on their evening commutes to update their visual media timelines so that they can catch the latest news or set their fantasy lineups for the next day. Writers are paid not for quality but the speed they can put out content due to the incredibly fast-paced roster management cycle. Blurring the line between armchair GMs and actual GMs, fantasy players actually have the opportunity to engage in the most accurate reflection of the real thing they possibly can. Some younger players try to play for all 36 teams at least four times for the laughs. Clubhouse chemistry is kind of an afterthought; the same people are no longer together every night, except for the few core players. Roster management can sometimes be a game of chicken (Who chooses a starting pitcher first? Which players do well against that type of starting pitcher?). Between fan engagement, roster construction, and travel logistics, everything is optimized.

What was fantasy in the early 2000s has become reality now. What is fantasy now will be reality in the future. The game, and society at large, will always change because of it.