My theory on the late-moving free agent market: teams are just being cautious, aiming for January bargains on players like Adam Dunn, Brian Fuentes, Derek Lowe, Orlando Hudson, and Ben Sheets. Plus, many free agents wanted to wait out the Mark Teixeira negotiations to see who’d have money and needs afterward.
Murray Chass suggested another possible explanation in yesterday’s article. He talked to "one prominent agent," who said, "There are a lot of rumblings that all the teams know exactly what everyone is doing with free agents." Chass recalled the "information bank" of twenty years ago, when teams formed a database of all their offers. Rob Manfred, executive VP of labor relations and human resources, offers a less sinister explanation: most offers are leaked out to the public.
Chass talked to another agent who believes budget cutbacks are to blame, which is hard to argue. Chass’ article also discusses the salary cap issue, which he more clearly calls a payroll cap.