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Monday, February 18, 2019

NY Post: Davidoff: The factors that conspired to create MLB’s free-agent freeze

4. A change in team strategies. Though a winter transactions deadline has seemingly never existed, teams used to eye the December holiday season as an ideal time to finalize the major touches on roster renovations. They had tickets to sell, obviously, and the more time to pound the drums on their new and improved products, the better.

Gradually, it occurred to many clubs: Whatever they lost in ticket sales from playing the calendar differently could be recouped and then some by waiting out free agents. Last year, the Royals re-signed third baseman Mike Moustakas, who had turned down a qualifying offer for $17.4 million, for a paltry $5.5 million in March. And here we are in mid-February with plenty of big names still looking for work.

bobm Posted: February 18, 2019 at 07:25 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: free agency

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   1. I Am Not a Number Posted: February 18, 2019 at 11:38 AM (#5816100)
the Royals re-signed third baseman Mike Moustakas, who had turned down a qualifying offer for $17.4 million, for a paltry $5.5 million in March

Moustakas will make less in 2018 and 2019 combined than he would have in 2018 alone had he accepted the QO.
   2. BrianBrianson Posted: February 18, 2019 at 11:52 AM (#5816106)
Is there any reason to believe delaying is resulting in lower salaries. I believe last year Eric Hosmer turned down a qualifying offer, wasn't signed at this time last year, and eventually made out rather well.
   3. tshipman Posted: February 18, 2019 at 01:04 PM (#5816138)
BBref Post: tshipman: The factors that conspired to create MLB’s free-agent freeze

1. Collusion
2. Owners liking money
3. No, the owners *really* like money
   4. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 18, 2019 at 01:14 PM (#5816148)
1. GMs thinking with their heads instead of their reproductive organs.
   5. bookbook Posted: February 18, 2019 at 03:36 PM (#5816194)
It rhymes with delusion. It’s legal according to esteemed fellow who was nearby (& mayor) when 911 happened. It’s fun and profitable and evidently American. It’s highly recommended.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 18, 2019 at 03:55 PM (#5816200)

Is there any reason to believe delaying is resulting in lower salaries. I believe last year Eric Hosmer turned down a qualifying offer, wasn't signed at this time last year, and eventually made out rather well.

Last year I did a study and found that players that signed before January 1 generally did about as well as their crowdsourced estimates at Fangraphs, but that players that signed after Jan 1 got about 25% less than their Fangraphs estimates.
   7. BrianBrianson Posted: February 18, 2019 at 04:10 PM (#5816205)
Hmm, thanks Retro. That's interesting. I'd maybe be interested to know if players signed after Jan 1st were producing the same WAR/$ or ~1.33X the WAR/$ (i.e., whether the issue is Fangraphs ability to estimate, or really players blinking), but that's a lot more helpful than assertions the owners need to collude to do something that any non-moron would do, knowing it's in their own best interest.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: February 18, 2019 at 04:16 PM (#5816208)
What a messed-up example. I mean I doubt the presence/absence of Moose made any real difference but (a) the Royals didn't exactly "save money" on Moose, they chose to gamble he'd turn down the QO in hopes of getting a pick, failed at that then paid him $5.5 anyway ... and (b) per the author's rather odd claim that a few million saved in payroll is better than attendance, the Royals' attendance dropped 560,000 (about 25%) last year. A mere $20 per patron makes up the $12 M they "saved."

Like I said, I don't think signing Moose or not or any amount of marketing had anything to do with that really but you can't hold this up as a team that somehow saved more money by waiting out a FA than they lost through not getting the fans inspired. The Royals must have had at least a $25-30 M drop in ticket revenue last year.

Obviously better a $30 M drop and paying Moose $5.5 than a $30 M drop and paying Moose $17.4. If he wants to claiim that marketing around FA stars does not increase attendance, then claim that ... gonna be hard to provide evidence. I am pretty comfy accepting a claim that "Hooray, Moose accepted our QO, he'll be here for one more year, come out to say a proper goodbye (before July 31)!" is not a great marketing strategy.

(FWIW .... Cots and b-r's payroll numbers for the Royals are pretty radically different but the Royals did cut about $20-30M in payroll from 2017 to 2018 which does obviously take most of the sting out of losing half-a-million in attendance. But that's not "waiting out the FAs", that's slashing payroll.)

Also ... The Royals were tanking. Everybody, including Moose no doubt, knew the Royals were tanking. They were never going to sign big FAs in December or March, there was never going to be an "look at the big moves we made" marketing. And of course they're a small market teams which never have a "look at the big moves we made" marketing strategy. Usually it's a "come out and see our exciting kids" and the occasional "whaddya know, we're actually pretty good this year" and the once-a-decade "hey, we re-signed Alex Gordon just like we think you wanted us to" campaign.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 18, 2019 at 04:24 PM (#5816210)
Agree, the Moustakas example makes no sense with the Royals. I'm not sure ticket sales really have anything to do with it - ticket revenues make like less then 25% of overall revenues at this point, and are season tickets really THAT dependent on being sold in December? However the overall point - that teams figured they could get bargains by waiting out the market - is accurate IMO. It makes sense that the closer you get to Opening Day, the more the price is going to drop on players.
   10. DFA Posted: February 18, 2019 at 10:35 PM (#5816286)
Prospects are perhaps properly valued or overvalued, so older players are paying the price. MLB has capped spending on the draft and on international players, and to their benefit are using this to prevent themselves from signing massive free agent deals. I wonder, however, how Trout would do if he were a free agent today. I suppose we will find out soon enough.

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