“Yasmani Grandal's One-Year Deal With the Brewers Proves
by Father Nieuwland (2019-01-11 18:20:32)

In reply to: $18 million for Yasmani Grandal  posted by sprack

MLB Free Agency Is Genuinely Broken”

Personally, I don’t think owners have an obligation to spend stupidly today just because they did in the past. But I’m sure someone will use WAR to show Russell Martin is worth $85 million even if he batted 0.000 over the final three years of his contract. And Jeff Samardzija is a bargain for the Giants at $40 million over the next two seasons.

Partial text from SI.com

Grandal’s deal is another sign that baseball’s economic model is fundamentally broken. Rewind to the last major catcher signing: Russell Martin’s $82-million, five-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. Martin was two years older than Grandal is now. In the three seasons leading up to his free agency, Martin was just a step behind Grandal, both at the plate (108 OPS+ versus 113) and behind it (54 Adjusted Framing Runs Above Average versus 71.7). If baseball’s free agency worked in 2019 as it did four years ago, Grandal’s contract would have exceeded Martin’s. Grandal is a little bit better, a little bit younger, and everything’s a little more expensive than it was four years ago.

But baseball’s free agency doesn’t work like that—not anymore. Martin’s deal exemplifies that.

After a solid performance in his first two years in Toronto, Martin has struggled in the seasons since. If you’re looking at the last few years in a vacuum, the contract looks like an overpay. It might even look like a reason not to give such a hefty contract to any catcher in free agency.

But the old model of free agency wasn’t built on that vacuum view. It was built on a view that saw top players underpaid, often wildly so, for the first six years of their career before they became free agents. And then they got to make up for that in free agency, where they might be seen as overpaid—particularly on long deals, in which teams understood that they’d have to eat some cost on the last few years of a contract in order to get premium talent on the first few years. The balance was precarious, but it was, for the most part, there until the last two offseasons.