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This Year’s Free Agency, or Lack Thereof, Visualized

As basically anyone who follows baseball has noticed this years free agency has dragged on through today January 24th with really nothing of note happening. It’s frustrating for the fans, the media and most of all the players. I decided to look back at the last six years to the 2012-2013 offseason and compare the money spent on all free agent contracts of three years or more as most of the best players get some sort of lengthy deal. To this point this offseason less than half of the top 50 free agents according to mlbtraderumors.com have signed and only one of their top 10, Wade Davis. Only 8 free agents among FanGraphs’ top 20 have signed.

Let’s start with the obvious, the number of deals this offseason is extremely low to this point in the winter. I looked back at all the deals each year and verified the date the deals were announced and sorted by month. Here though is the total number of deals three or more years in length as of January 20th in each of those years.

As you can see this year teams just aren’t wanting to commit to longer-term deals hardly at all. Currently this offseason there have been just nine deals of any real length. Three of those were signed by the Colorado Rockies alone with the signings of Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee. Every deal of three or more years this offseason has been for just three years, no longer deals have been signed as of yet. At this point in the year the number of deals is for all intents and purposes half, or less than halfof what has been normal in recent years so everyone is right to think this year’s Hot Stove is quite cold.

So what kind of money are teams committing?

Again as seen here, for this point in the year the $ spent are incredibly low as well. These figures will surely rise when/if the top free agents start to sign but as they sit currently the low level of spending is almost mind-blowing. Four of the five previous years by January 24th teams in MLB had committed either very close to well over a billion, yes with a b, dollars to free agents on long term deals. This year’s total currently sits at $415 million. To put that in perspective in the 2015 offseason David Price and Zack Greinke combined for more money than that at $423.5 million between them. So what’s different this year? Has the free agent spending bubble burst? It’s most certainly not the qualifying offer and the loss of a draft pick holding teams back anymore.

Here you will see the total spent as the months passed in previous offseasons. What is obviously missing this year is all the big names signing in December like most years. Now the biggest question is when will those names sign? Will it be before the end of January… February… Spring Training? We are only 20 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training and the picture of this offseason is not pretty.