Four possible reasons why the MLB free-agent market is still stagnant despite big names being on the market

In about three weeks, pitchers and catchers will begin reporting to spring training camps in Arizona and Florida. Real live baseball is close to returning and there are still plenty of free agents unsigned. so many! Twenty-four of our top 50 free agents are still looking for work, And we’re not talking about middle relievers and backup catchers. Stars are available. from them:

You can give reasons for avoiding any or all of these guys (Snell walked a lot of batters, Chapman didn’t hit much after April, etc.) but the bulk of the work tells us that these four actually There are good players who will perform well and make almost every team better. Yet, they remain unsigned, like dozens of others who do not have the same certificates.

What did you give? At first we all thought Juan Soto was cornering the market. Then it seemed like everyone was waiting for Shohei Ohtani. Then it was Yoshinobu Yamamoto, right? Yamamoto’s signing will definitely start a stir in the market. Instead, nothing. Or not very much really. We get maybe two or three free-agent signings a week, and that’s about it. The market is cold.

Eventually these players will sign – I promise you the reigning NL Cy Young winner will not be forced into retirement – ​​but when will they sign? I have no idea and I don’t think anyone would. So what’s holding the market back? Here are four possible reasons why the free-agent market is moving at a snail’s pace as spring training approaches.

1. This isn’t a great free-agent class

With all due respect to the players involved, this wasn’t the best or deepest class to start with. Ohtani is a megastar and Yamamoto is expected to be a megastar given the contract he signed. Otherwise, the free-agent class lacked star power and prime-aged talent. There are a lot of good players available but very few truly great players on the open market.

Instead of paying a good player like a great player because that’s what’s available, teams are sitting on the sidelines and waiting for prices to drop into a more reasonable range. As we get closer to spring training, players will be nervous and looking to sign. That’s the hope of the teams anyway. Eventually desperation will come and prices will drop, and that’s when teams will take action.

2. Boras takes control of the market top

What do Bellinger, Chapman, Montgomery, and Snell have in common? They are all clients of Scott Boras. It’s no coincidence that they are all unsigned in mid-January. Boras is ready to wait in the market with top customers and this is by design. With Yamamoto off the market, Montgomery and Snell are the best available starters. And who do you need to call to get them? Absolutely.

Boras controls the top of the free-agent market. Want an influence free agent? You have to go through it. It may seem like Boras has overplayed his hand – to be honest, that often happens – but the proof is in the pudding. Boras is the best and most powerful agent in the game because he gets great contracts for his clients, even if it means dragging out their free agency until late in the offseason.

It’s not Boras’ job to keep the hot stove going or make sure teams have the needed players in time for Opening Day. Their job is to take care of their customers and their methods are tried and true. Boras currently controls the market top. When one of his clients says he’s tired of waiting and wants to sign, or when a desperate GM meets his asking price, free agency will start taking over.

3. Quality trade candidates available

Although we are still waiting for free agency to begin, there have been several notable deals made this offseason. Soto trading is clearly the dominant one. There is also the Robbie Ray trade, Chris Sale trade, Eugenio Suarez trade, Tyler Glasnow trade, Alex Verdugo trade, Jared Kelenic trade and others. It has been a very active trading market this winter.

There are still other good trade candidates, led by Dylan Cease. You can understand why teams would want to eliminate the possibility of a trade before moving on to Montgomery and Snell. Shane Bieber’s name is in discussion. So are Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler. Also from Jonathan India. There are viable options available in free agency on the trade market.

However, this is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, teams may hold off on pursuing Montgomery or Snell until they see what happens with Cease, but White Sox GM Chris Gaetz has a high demand for Cease because the option, Well, giving Montgomery or Snell a big contract. This is a big impasse. Everyone is waiting for someone else to blink.

4. Status of Diamond Sports Group

Diamond Sports Group, which operates various Bali sports regional networks, is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, and several clubs are in danger of losing their local television contracts. This includes the defending World Series champion Rangers, the always popular Cardinals, Twins and others. There is a lot of uncertainty right now about local television revenues.

Because of this, some teams have held back on their spending, or not increased payroll as much as you would normally expect. The independent agency has also suffered losses due to this. Why haven’t the Rangers re-signed Montgomery yet? It’s not because they don’t want him. This is because his television situation is fluid and he needs to be in line before he can move forward with a big free-agent contract.

I don’t know what the situation of belly sports will be in the end. There will no doubt be some short-term pain, but MLB and various teams will be fine on the other side. They always do this. However, until this is resolved, more than a few clubs are unwilling to take on additional funds. There are very few people spending there at this time.

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