I don’t see any evidence of collusion among Major League Baseball team owners this offseason. The industry collectively understands more about players’ values today than ever before, thanks to data and advanced analytics. The free agent market is slow because several of the top free agents have not yet been signed, which impacts the market for the lesser free agents.
Player agents, especially Scott Boras, are overvaluing their free agent clients and giving bad advice to wait for unrealistic offers that will never come. Here’s a comparison that may reveal Boras’ unrealistic expectations for two of his top free agent clients, Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez:
Career wins above replacement (WAR) per 162 games:
- Eric Hosmer: 2.2 — Reportedly balking at a 7-year, $147 million offer from the Royals, a $21 million average annual value (AAV)
- JD Martinez: 2.9 — Reportedly balking at a 5-year, $125 million offer from the Red Sox, a $25 million AAV
- Lorenzo Cain: 6.0 — Accepted a 5-year contract at $80 million from the Brewers, a $16 million AAV
Also, if we exclude the defensive component of WAR, here’s their career offensive wins above replacement (oWAR) per 162 games:
- Eric Hosmer: 2.5
- JD Martinez: 3.6
- Lorenzo Cain: 3.6
It’s worth noting that Cain is three years older than Hosmer and one year older than Martinez. Cain, however, was a late bloomer compared to Hosmer, so he does have less “mileage”, although that’s usually less relevant in baseball.