Shorter Deals Slow Free Agent Market


Now comes the great debate for Major League Baseball. Is it collusion or common sense that has led to the slow market for free agents?

The owners have been found guilty of collusion in the past. And it could be at work again, but it also is reasonable to feel that given the luxury tax for teams that exceed a payroll cap, and the growing usage of analytics working to limit the emotional shopping on the free agent market has teams being more particular now than they have been in the past.

Teams are not necessary cutting corners on annual salaries, but they are balking over length.

Lorenzo Cain just signed a 5 year $80 million deal with Milwaukee

Among the 163 players who became XX B Free Agents —  the free agents created by the Messersmith/McNally and became a part of MLB’s off-season efforts for the 1977 season — only one of the 50 who agreed to deals through Sunday received more than a three-year guarantee.

Outfielder Lorenzo Cain received a five-year, $80 million deal with the Brewers.

Wade Davis

Teams have come up with healthy salaries for the players who have agreed to sign, including closer Wade Davis, whose three-year, $52 million deal with the Rockies has the highest annual average value ever for a relief pitcher ($17.3 million), and first baseman Carlos Santana’s three-year deal with the Phillies for $60 million.

With spring camps scheduled to start opening next weekend, however, 113 XX B free agents remain on the market, which led to several agents hint about a possible boycott of spring training camps, although the Major League Baseball Players Association has denied the idea has been broached.

As big a factor is that only three of the top 10 players as ranked by Fan Graphs have signed – Cain, Wade and Santana, who each received quality contracts.

There is the Scott Boras factor. Three of the seven unsigned are his clients – DH/outfielder J.D. Martinez, first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas. There has been a feeling that offensive players have been in a holding pattern waiting on Martinez to set the top end of the market. Teams, however, have been slow in responding to Martinez, who was creating speculation early this off-season his price could exceed $200 million.

And there could be given the statistical revolution in the game that teams are leery over long-term deals for players in their 30s, and five of the seven remaining free agents among the top 10 have celebrated their 30th birthday – Yu Darvish (31), Martinez (30), Jake Arrieta (32), Zack Cozart (32) and Alex Cobb (29).

It’s one thing to give a player in his early 30s a three-year deal, but when agents start to talk about five years or more teams could be hesitant to protect their budgets in later years.

Some numbers to crunch:

Since the advent of the XX B Free Agent Market  for the 1977 season there have been 146 players who had 1,000 plate appearances, less than half of them as a DH, after turning 35. Only 12 of them hit .300, and 96 of them hit below .280, including 44 who hit less than  .260.

12 Players Who Hit .300 After Turning 35 (minimum 1,000 plate appearances)


Tony Gwynn.35029291995200135-41SDP

Barry Bonds.32240722000200735-42SFG

Tony Fernandez.31117031997200135-39CLE-TOR-MIL

Adrian Beltre.30522622014201735-38TEX

Edgar Martinez.30540851998200435-41SEA

Larry Walker.30518002002200535-38COL-STL

Jim Eisenreich.30413351995199836-39PHI-FLA-LAD

Manny Ramirez.30419912007201135-39BOS-LAD-CHW-TBR

Wade Boggs.30323391995199937-41NYY-TBD

Paul Molitor.30224831995199838-41TOR-MIN

Chipper Jones.30130712007201235-40ATL

Marco Scutaro.30016882011201435-38BOS-SFG-COL


Among 50 pitchers who made at least 50 starts after turning 35 since the start of the 1977 season only 18 compiled an ERA below 4.00, and only five had an ERA below 3.50.


Randy Johnson3.233161999200935-45

Kevin Brown3.31292000200535-40

Chris Carpenter3.35722010201235-37

Hiroki Kuroda3.361602010201435-39

Roger Clemens3.382911998200735-44

John Lackey3.581232014201735-38

Mark Buehrle3.59642014201535-36

Curt Schilling3.631572002200735-40

R.A. Dickey3.662522010201735-42

Tim Hudson3.681352011201535-39

A.J. Burnett3.691212012201535-38

Greg Maddux3.82732001200835-42

CC Sabathia3.81572016201735-36

Tom Glavine3.832482001200835-42

Al Leiter3.921482001200535-39

Andy Pettitte3.931622007201335-41

Bartolo Colon3.972222008201735-44

Ryan Dempster3.97572012201335-36


There have been 125 relievers make 100 or more apperances (at least 50 out of the bullpen) after turning 35 since the start of the 1977 season. Only 15 had an ERA below 4.00.

Player FromToAgeGGSIP


Billy Wagner2.072007201035-381990200.1

Pat Neshek2.222016201735-361310109.1

Jason Frasor2.322013201535-371540124.1

Takashi Saito2.342006201236-423380338

Koji Uehara2.432010201735-424240414

Javier Lopez2.522013201635-382790143

Joaquin Benoit2.592013201735-392890285

Brad Ziegler2.752015201735-371880183

Ryan Madson2.772016201735-361230123.2

Scott Downs2.842011201435-382400180.2

Darren Holmes2.892002200336-37103096.2

Chris Hammond2.922002200636-402500280

Darren Oliver2.952006201335-424601508.2

Matt Belisle2.962015201735-371360140

Kent Mercker2.972003200835-402680212


And  only 10 of the relievers had as many as 100 saves after turning 35.



Trevor Hoffman2492003201035-42

Fernando Rodney2132012201735-40

Jose Mesa1832001200735-41

John Smoltz1442002200935-42

Todd Jones1352003200835-40

Joe Nathan1302011201636-41

John Franco1291996200535-44

Todd Worrell1111995199735-37

Bob Wickman1112004200735-38

Rick Aguilera1071997200035-38


XX B Free Agents Who Have Signed This Off-Season

Free Agent2017 Club2018 ClubGuaranteed Salary


Alex AvilaCubsD-Backs2 years-$8.25 million

Wellington CastilloOriolesWhite Sox2 years-$15 million

Chris IannettaD-BacksRockies2 years-$8.5 million

Nick HundleyGiantsre-signed1 year-$2.5 million

Rene RiveraCubsAngels1 year-$2.8 million

First Basemen

Yonder AlonsoMarinersIndians2 years-$16 million

Mitch MorelandRed Soxre-signed2 years-$13 million

Carlos SantanaIndiansPhillies3 years-$60 million

Second Basemen


Third Basemen

Zack CosartRedsAngels3 years-$38 million


Alcides EscobarRoyalsre-signed1 year-$2.5 million

Adam RonsalesD-BacksPhilliesMinor League Invite


Jay BruceIndiansMets3 years-$39 mllion

Lorenzo CainRoyalsBrewers5 years-$80 million

Curtis GrandersonDodgersBlue Jays1 year-$5 million

Austin JacksonIndiansGiants2 years-$6 million

Howie KendrickNationalsRe-signed2 years-$7 million

Starting Pitchers

Jhouyls ChacinPadresBrewers2 years-$15.5 million

Tyler ChatwoodRockiesCubs3 years-$38 million

Bartolo ColonRed SoxRangers1 year-$4 million

Doug FisterTwinsRangersMinor League Invite

Yovani GallardoMarinersBrewers1 year-$2 million

Tommy HunterMarinersre-signedMinor League Invite

Hisaki IwakumaRaysPhillies2-years-$18 million

Michael PinedaYankeesTwins2 years-$10 million

CC SabathiaYankeesre-signed1 year-$10 million

Relief Pitchers

Matt AlbersNationalsBrewers2 years-$5 million

Tony BarnetteRangersre-signed1 year-$1.5 million

Steve CishekRaysCubs2 years-$13 million

Wade DavisCubsRockies3 years-$52 million

Brian DuensingCubsre-signed2 years-$7 million

Zach DukeCardinalsTwins1 year-$2.15 million

Luke GregersonAstrosCardinals2 years-$11 million

Miguel GonzalezRangersWhite Sox1 year-$4.75 million

David HernandezD-BacksReds2 years-$5 million

Brandon KintzlerNationalsre-signed2 years-$10 million

Boone LoganIndiansBrewers1 year-$2.5 million

Jordan LylesPadresre-signed1 year-$1 million

Jake McGeeRockiesre-signed3 years-$27 million

Mike MinorRoyalsCubs3 years-$27 million

Brandon MorrowDodgersCubs2 years-$21 million

Pat NeshekRockiesPhillies2 years-$16.5 million

Juan NicasioCardinalsMariners2 years-$17 million

Yusmeiro PetitAngelsA’s2 years-$10 million

Addison ReedRed SoxTwins2 years-$16.75 million

Fernando RodneyD-BacksTwins1 year-$4.5 million

Fernando SalasAngelsD-BacksMinor League Invite

Bryan ShawIndiansRockies3 years-$27 million

Joe SmithIndiansAstros2 years-$15 million

Craig StammenPadresre-signed2 years-$4.5 million

Anthony SwarzakBrewersMets1 year-$4 million


XX B Free Agents Unsigned This Off-Season

PlayerPos.2017 TeamPlayerPos.2017 Team

Gregor BlancoOFD-BacksYu DarvishSPDodgers

Jorge de la RosaRPAndre EthierOF

J.D. MartinezOF/DHFrank GutierrezOF

R.A. DickeySPBravesChase Utley2B

Jason MotteRPTony WatsonRP

Pedro Alvarez1BOriolesMike AvilesSSMarlins

Ryan FlahertyINFA.J. EllisC

Craig GentryOFDustin McGowanRP

J.J. HardySSIchiro SuzukiOF

Jeremy HellicksonSPMatt GarzaSPBrewers

Ubaldo JimenezSPNeil Walker2B

Wade MileySPMatt BelisleRPTwins

Seth SmithOFDillon GeeRP

Chris TillmanSPGlen PerkinsRP

Fernando AbadRPRed SoxHector SantiagoSP

Blaine BoyerRPTodd Frazier3BYankees

Rajai DavisOFJamie GarciaSP

Eduardo Nunez2bMatt HollidayDH

Chris YoungOFAndres Blanco3BPhillies

Jake ArrietaSPCubsClay BuchholzSP

Jon JayOFDaniel NavaOF

John LakdceySPJoaquin BenoitRPPirates

Koji UeharaRPJohn JasoOF

Mike PelfreySPWhite SoxWade LeBlancSP

Geovany SotoCChris StewartC

Arroyo BronsonSPRedsLance LynnSPCardinals

Scott FeldmanSPSeung-Hwan OhRP

Drew StorenRPErick AybarSSPadres

Craig BreslowRPIndiansMichael Morse1BGiants

Alexi AmarisaSSRockiesGordan Beckham2BMariners

Carlos GonzalezOFJarrod DysonOF

Ryan HaniganCCarlos RuizC

Greg HollandRPDanny Valencia1B

Jonathan LucroyCPeter BourjosOFRays

Mark Reynolds1BAlex CobbSP

Anibal SanchezSPTigersLucas DudaDH

Carlos BeltranDHAstrosLogan Morrison1B

Tyler ClippardRPTrevor Plouffe3B

Francisco LirianoRP/SPColby RasmusOF

Cameron MaybinOFSergio RomoRP

Melky CabreraOFRoyalsAndrew CashnerSPRangers

Trevor CahillSPCarlos GomezOF

Eric Hosmer1BJason GrilliRP

Mike Moustakas3BMiguel MonteroOF

Peter  MoylanRPMike Napoli1B

Jason VargasSPBrett AndersonSPBlue Jays

Andrew BaileyRPAngelsDarwin Barney2B

Jesse ChavezSPJose BautistaOF

Yunel Escobar3BMichael SaundersOF

Ricky NolascoSPJoe BlantonRPNationals

Bud NorrisRPAlejando De AzaOF

Cliff PenningtonINFStephen DrewSS

Brandon Phillips2BEdwin JacksonSP

Ben RevereOFAdam Lind1B

Huston StreetRPJose LobatonC

Oliver PerezRP

Ryan RaburnOF

Jayson WerthOF