Donald Fehr, head of the players' union, is not ready to conclude that owners are conspiring to hold down free-agent salaries.
But Fehr admitted Friday to "heightened" concern about the state of the market, citing the large number of free agents who remain unemployed.
Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to spring training in two weeks, yet nearly 90 free agents are still looking for jobs.
The union examines trends in every free-agent market, but will not decide whether to file a collusion grievance until the signing period is complete.
"Obviously, we've looked at it every year since the mid-1980s," Fehr told FOXSports.com. "That concern becomes heightened when you go late into the period of time when players should be signed and many fewer players have signed and spring training is nearer."
While club executives cite the faltering economy as the reason for the sluggish market, some agents say privately that the owners are working in concert to avoid competitive bidding for free agents.
Well we know one thing, the Steinbrenner's aren't to blame for this. They're still spending.
The economy clearly is responsible for the plummeting values of many free agents. The union likely would take exception, however, if clubs deemed some of those free agents to have little or no value.
"No matter what the general climate is, we're certain clubs want to put the best possible teams on the field," Fehr said.
"There are certainly a significant number of quality players available that can help a lot of teams. I'm hoping the situation will rectify itself."