September 26, 2021

Checking In on the Free Agent Market (FanGraphs)

On the eve of the winter meetings, a full month and one major holiday into the offseason, it’s a good time to review what we’ve observed on the free agent market thus far and gauge how that activity portends for the rest of the year. It’s always an interesting question, but one that feels particularly relevant now after consecutive cold stoves and increasingly heated rhetoric from both the league and the MLB Players Association about the game’s economic landscape.

Inevitably, most of the action this winter will be viewed through the prism of whether this offseason feels as strange as the last two, which, if you’ve forgotten, were very unusual. Top free agents got their customary nine-figure offers, and we even saw a couple of record-breaking contracts, as Manny Machado and Bryce Harper inked the sport’s first $300 million free agent deals.

But seemingly everyone else had to scramble for work. In an abrupt departure from convention, teams both spent considerably less money than in winters past and waited significantly longer to solidify their roster. Meanwhile, players signed for dimes on the dollars they could have expected in previous years. Nick Markakis

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