There’s enough talent left on the free-agent market — including seven of the top twenty players on MLBTR’s list of the top 50 free agents — that the overall assessment of spending could yet be swayed by contracts that have yet to be reached. (As always, you can review the action to this point in our 2017-18 MLB Free Agent Tracker.) As we wait for the final data points to be registered, it’s worth considering this recent piece from The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh regarding the debate over player spending in comparison to revenue (as well as this earlier AP examination of spending and revenue from the spring of 2016). Calculating the players’ slice of the pie — and the size of the pie itself — is certainly a nuanced undertaking, and one for which complete public data is lacking.
The markedly sluggish timing of this year’s market, of course, is something that has already been established quite clearly. With an unprecedented number of top players still awaiting new deals as Spring Training opens, let’s take a look at a few of the most notable bits of information from Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (from his latest notes column, unless otherwise noted):
- At least as of a few days back, says Heyman, first baseman Logan Morrison was not sitting on any open offers. While LoMo’s representatives surely have an idea of what might be available, it’s rather notable that no organizations seem to be making a concerted effort to draw him. MLBTR’s Connor Byrne recently argued in favor of Morrison as a worthy free-agent target, but it certainly isn’t doing him any favors that the market still holds a few other quality slugger types. Still, Morrison’s excellent recent work at the plate would unquestionably hold out the promise of real improvement for a variety of organizations.
- There’s still no evidence that the Braves are particularly likely to agree to terms with third baseman Mike Moustakas, but Heyman says there has been some amount of engagement — even if “there’s no common ground” to this point. The Atlanta organization, which Heyman says even considered Lorenzo Cain at one point, may have reduced 2018 flexibility after a salary swapping deal with the Dodgers moved some obligations forward. But it seems the team is still at least hunting around for interesting possibilities. As for Moustakas, Heyman notes he has “plenty of one-year opportunities,” but it’s not clear at this point whether a significant multi-year deal will be forthcoming. That’s surely disappointing after he turned in a strong 2017 season, though it is not atypical for some quality players to run into problematic market circumstances.
- The White Sox have been linked, albeit loosely, to Moustakas, and it still seems as if the Chicago organization could have some tricks up its sleeves. While the focus, no doubt, remains on the future, the club is going to have some solid veterans and high-end young talents on the roster for the coming season. With just over $70MM on the books for 2018, perhaps the organization could yet pursue some one-year or multi-year deals that would hold out the promise of delivering excess value. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is a “possibility” for the South Siders, per Heyman. It stands to reason that the Sox might hold added appeal to players such as Gonzalez if they are willing to offer more playing time than might be available elsewhere.
- With several starters locking in solid rates of pay of late, and the bullpen market heating up earlier in the offseason, pitchers seem generally to have had an easier go of things on this winter’s wacky market. Heyman writes that veteran righty Lance Lynn has not been forced to significantly drop his asking price. Indications are that the Twins, per the report, “seem to prefer” Lynn to other still-available starters. Heyman further reports that Jake Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, still seems to believe that Arrieta compares more reasonably with pitchers who have landed mega-deals than he does with the recently inked Yu Darvish, who received a $126MM guarantee. Of course, we’re still waiting to see how those and a few other top open-market pitchers will end up doing when all is said and done.