top of page

Why The Off Season Has Been So Slow

This off season has been busy, but the free agent market has been moving at a snail's pace. Thanks to the trading market the off season has still had it's game changing moments but that leaves the question, why has the free agent market been so bad this year? This is because of a few reasons. No one particular group is to blame and the issue we've been seeing this off season has been imminent for years, so let's get started and look into why spring training games are starting and there are still several big ticket free agents on the market.

The reason for this halt in the market is player value. The quality of players on the free agent market hasn't decreased but teams are finally realize that the amount teams were paying for high end players was too much. Free agency in a league without a salary cap is dangerous as players sign these mega contracts for millions of dollars annually which last past the players prime when they begin to regress. This causes players who are free agents after these players on mega contracts have regressed to want more money than the aging veteran is making because at this point they're better than this veteran at that point in time. A perfect example of this is J.D. Martinez and Jacoby Ellsbury. Heading into the 2014 Jacoby Ellsbury had signed a mega contract with the Yankees as the club expected him to play a major role on the club as the Yankees looked to retool after Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettite had left for retirement. Sadly however Ellsbury didn't play the way the Yankees thought he would leading to Ellsbury's high salary going to a player who wasn't producing at a rate to earn that amount of money. Fast forward to this off season with J.D. Martinez, J.D. is looking at his offers and sees Jacoby Ellsbury making over $20 million every season and he feels he should be making more than Ellsbury because Martinez baring any significant regression will have a more productive season than Ellsbury. This is where the problems with mega contracts arise. You sign these big name players for too much money and until they're past their prime leaving teams with players that are taking up massive amounts of payroll and driving up the price of other players. So who's to blame for this? That's a more difficult question than you may initially think. The players aren't to blame because the teams are offering them these deals, and players want job security just as everyone does. The owners aren't to blame either however as they're just trying to get talented players on their team as they won't accept offers that are lower value than these mega contracts that end poorly.

So how do we fix this? A max offer for free agents or a salary cap are not the right options to fix this. One of the best things about baseball is the fact that there's freedom in the market. Teams can offer a player as much as they want and a player can ask for as much money or as many years on a contract as a team will offer them. How we fix it is we find a compromise between what the owners want and what the players want. The owners want to sign players for short term contracts so when the player regresses they're not on the teams payroll but players want to have job security so they can have a job in the majors for more than 10 years if their playing ability allows them to continue playing. The key is for players to sign deals between 4 years and 6 years so the teams do not have the high salary of a veteran well past their prime. The compromise for the owners is that they have to be more willing to pay players for the value they're worth. With this methodology players have to be willing to sign for less years giving them less job security, but teams have to be willing to give players more money during their contract as the teams will most likely not have to deal with a player making $20 million while they produce very little. To avoid another incident like this off season happening again the mega contract needs to end, or at least needs to be reserved for the generational talents, not 30 year old players who had a productive season in their contract year. The off season is starting to pick up however as teams are finally starting to make deals as spring training games are getting ready to begin. Hopefully teams and players can agree with each other on contracts so we can keep the talented players on the field.

Recent Posts
bottom of page