As MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently pointed out, at this time last year we had seen no open-market movement from the top of the free-agent pool. There’s still quite a lot of work to be done with regard to the current crop of players, but there also has been quite a bit more movement. With ten of the top twenty players listed on MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agent list now having reportedly agreed to terms, it’s a good time to check in on how the market is developing.
Here are the deals that have reportedly been struck do date, not all of which have been finalized:
Total — Predicted: $560MM. Signed: $540.4MM.
It’s possible to look at that slate of signings and believe that the market is humming along. Perhaps the biggest point in favor of an optimistic outlook from the players’ perspective is the fact that many early moves seem to have set teams up for yet more acquisitions. Few if any teams appear “done” with their shopping at this point.
Of course, one could also argue that the earliest-to-sign free agents naturally outperformed expectations, since strong early interest is what drove their market. It could be that other names on the T50 list will find tougher going. Plus, the top of the position-player market and much of the relief market remain unresolved. And there’s a big group of mid-level free agents (and below) that are still waiting to see how things will shake out up top.
Timing is also an interesting topic to consider. Players are no doubt resolved not to allow the ticking clock to become too strong a lever for teams, who made clear last winter that patience isn’t going to be in short supply. Perhaps there’s still some feeling-out to be done in light of last year’s market shock, and there’s at least one significant trade chip (J.T. Realmuto) who could be holding things up a bit, but we may also simply be in an era when more of the offseason business tends to be completed later on the calendar.