Arthur: The decline of teams built around free agents

From SABR member Rob Arthur at Baseball Prospectus on January 25, 2019:

In 2005, the Red Sox piled up 95 wins and made the playoffs, losing to the White Sox in the ALDS. They received most of their production from players acquired via the free agent market, from superstars like Manny Ramirez to players who developed within the organization but made it to free agency, such as Jason Varitek. However, teams like the 2005 Red Sox don’t exist anymore. The big-market, free agent-fueled juggernaut has all but gone extinct.

The 2005 season was a watershed moment for team-building in MLB. That year, about half of all teams had rosters with more than one-third of their Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) coming from players acquired in free agency. (Using data from the Roster Analysis tool at the Baseball Gauge.) The Red Sox led the way one year after their curse-breaking championship, tallying almost 60 percent of their WARP from free agents.

And then everything changed.

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Originally published: January 25, 2019. Last Updated: January 25, 2019.