MLB Free Agency: The Hot Stove is Cold

“Testing, testing. One, two, three. Is anybody there? Can you guys hear me?” — The Hot Stove

What’s going on here? We have one of the best — if not the best — free-agent markets in Major League Baseball history, yet no significant action has taken place through Thanksgiving. Yes, Colby Rasmus, Matt Wieters, and Brett Anderson all accepted qualifying offers, Marco Estrada re-signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, Chris Iannetta signed with the Seattle Mariners, and some other deals have happened. But nothing has happened yet that has really caught anyone’s eye. MLB Trade Rumors’ Transaction Tracker shows no significant free agent action that has taken place through Thanksgiving this offseason.

Through Thanksgiving last offseason, the Transaction Tracker listed that action took place in November before “Black Friday,” including these major signings:

  • LF Hanley Ramirez to Boston Red Sox — Four-year, $88 million contract
  • 3B Pablo Sandoval to Red Sox — Five-year, $95 million contract
  • DH Adam LaRoche to Chicago White Sox — Two-year, $25 million contract
  • 3B/OF Yasmany Tomas to Arizona Diamondbacks — Six-year, $68.5 million contract

In the offseason before that, many names were off the board by Thanksgiving, including Jhonny Peralta, Jason Vargas, and Tim Hudson.

This year’s free-agent class is stacked with talent, and has a good opportunity to break a record for $100-plus million contracts given out in one offseason. I’m going on the record to predict that nine free agents will sign a contract for at least $100 million each: LHP David Price, RHP Zack Greinke, RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP Jordan Zimmermann, OF Jason Heyward, OF Justin Upton, OF Alex Gordon, OF Yoenis Cespedes, and 1B Chris Davis.

One has to wonder when the chips will start falling off the board. With how much talent there is in free agency this offseason, perhaps players — possibly advised by their respective agents — are playing the waiting game for all the potential suitors to make an offer.

In the end, this free agent class will be making billions, and it’ll be fun for baseball fans to watch the chips fall off the board. But for right now, free agency hasn’t been fun for the fans at all. The last thing I expected in this robust free-agent market was for the top headlines through Thanksgiving be about trades that teams are pulling.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s enjoyable as a baseball fan to see Andrelton Simmons, Erick Aybar, Craig Kimbrel, Nate Karns, Cameron Maybin, Jesse Chavez, Jed Lowrie, Rex Brothers, and multiple others join their new respective ball clubs via trade. But when we see Price, Greinke, Heyward, Davis, and multiple others ready to collect the big bucks — these trades don’t “wow” us as much as they possibly should have.

No team or free agent is in any rush to get a deal done, and that shouldn’t impact the market for most of the free agents. This isn’t a situation where teams or players are losing in free agency so far. As of right now, the losers of free agency are the impatient baseball fans — like myself — who are just ready for all the big names to start coming off the free-agent board.

It’s dreadful now. But sooner or later, the fun will begin.

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