Arthur: The free agent market is back

From SABR member Rob Arthur at Baseball Prospectus on December 6, 2019:

To call the last two Decembers’ free agent signings “extraordinarily dull” would be an understatement. By any measure, they were two of the quietest periods in recent baseball memory. The lack of activity prompted expressions of concern from writers, the union, and individual players about whether free agency was fundamentally broken.

This year a different story is unfolding. After the two-year freeze, the market looks to be finally thawing out. And while the contracts and dollars flowing from teams to players are still not quite on par with previous Decembers, we are at least (and at last) witnessing a resurgence of a healthy level of activity.

There was good reason to expect this offseason to be slow. The markets following the 2017 and 2018 seasons were downright glacial and in the absence of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, it seemed the factors driving that deceleration (depressed wages for increasingly valuable younger players) were likely to continue. The first month or two of both years was especially brutal: A grand total of 26 players signed before December 5th in those two years combined, most of them inconsequential additions.

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Originally published: December 6, 2019. Last Updated: December 6, 2019.