2008: Year Of The Buyer?

It’s too early to proclaim anything definitively, but a look at the transactions that have occurred so far this off-season reveals a pretty interesting trend.

Jeremy Affeldt signs with Giants for 2 years, $8 million

This is probably 50% of his true value. Worse relievers got four year deals a year ago.

Ryan Dempster signs with Cubs for 4 years, $52 million

This is a pretty significant discount for staying in Chicago. Dempster took the same contract Carlos Silva got a year ago despite being a far superior talent.

Athletics acquired Matt Holliday from the Rockies for a collection of question marks

Holliday was expected to be traded for a pretty hefty package of talent, but there are real concerns about both of the young players Colorado got in exchange for their best player.

Yankees acquired Nick Swisher for a collection of barely useful role players

A year after getting traded for the best pitching prospect in the White Sox system, they turn around and sell him for a fraction of what they paid to get him. Even if Swisher never returns to previous levels, the Yankees didn’t give up much to get him.

Nationals acquired Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham for barely useful role players

While I don’t think all that highly of either guy Washington acquired, they still traded two young players with some name value and got practically nothing back.

Along with the Marlins dumping Mike Jacobs because no one wanted him and an underwhelming market for Coco Crisp, so far nearly every transaction of the winter points to this being a pretty significant buyer’s market. In basically every move so far, the acquiring team has given up less than we would have expected to either sign a player or acquire one in trade. The cost of bringing in talent has been dampened significantly over prior years.

Perhaps this will all change, and the big contracts for the big stars will reverse the course, but right now, this winter looks a great time to be a buyer. Sellers are finding it hard to get anything close to what used to pass for market value. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that Billy Beane is on a mission to collect big league talent right now. Have proven veterans become the new market inefficiency?



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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