There has been plenty of speculation as to why, this deep into January, premiere free agents including pitchers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta and sluggers Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez, and Mike Moustakas are still unsigned. Some conspiracy theorists float possible collusion over revenue sharing issues or fears of agent and power broker Scott Boras who represents many of them. There are Sabermetrics calculations to sift through to deduce just how much these players will regress as they get deeper into a long-term contract. But Sports Illustrated posits a more straightforward reason: This is not a particularly strong crop of free agents. They’re just not worth big contracts.
“Analytics are particularly impactful when applied to what already scanned as a relatively weak crop of free agents,” writes SI‘s Jay Jaffe. “As I’ve illustrated in my What’s He’s Really Worth series, top free agents such as Hosmer, Martinez, Darvish, Arrieta and Cain almost uniformly seem to be dealing with recent performance regression and injuries.”