Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The tepid stove league

The Twins winter caravan rolls through Mankato next week (with an ice fishing tournament at Madison Lake no less), a sure sign that spring training is not far off.

And almost none of the most significant free agents have signed. Part of that may be that it is not a particuarly impressive set of free agents -- certainly not like next year's expected crop -- and each of the major names on the market has obvious flaws.

The Twins have so far inked a pair of veteran relievers (Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke) and a rehab project who might pay off in 2019 (Michael Pineda). But their main and self-proclaimed focus is Yu Darvish, generally regarded as the top starter on the market and with the added incentive that signing him won't strip a team of draft picks.

But even Darvish isn't attracting suitors with a sense of urgency.

The last time the offseason was this slow was probably during the collusion scam three decades ago. This time around the lukewarm market appears to be generated by three factors:

  • the flaws in the major free agents;
  • the structure of the luxury tax is compelling the usual market-making franchises to pull back on spending;
  • the prevalence of analytics has resulted in a every team essentially valuing players identically.
But something is going to have to break soon. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a little more than a month. 

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