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2019 Free Agents Got 91.5% of What We Expected

(…or “Fun With FanGraphs’ Free Agent Tracker and Excel”)

The 2019 offseason was an interesting and surprising one. It continued the recent trends of free agents signing later and of several prominent free agents getting less than expected. There was debate here at FanGraphs and elsewhere on whether free agency is broken, no longer working as intended, and if it could lead to a labor shutdown. Others see the big money earned by Harper and Machado as evidence that all is fine. I wanted to take a closer look, informed by data and some quick-and-dirty analysis.

On March 3, 2019, I went to FanGraphs’ free-agent tracker and selected the first 60 free agents listed in descending order of total value of newly signed FA contract. I removed the 13 players who were not featured in reader contract crowdsourcing, leaving 47 players, ranging from Bryce Harper ($330M) to Lonnie Chisenhall ($2.8M). I then compared the total years and total dollar values from crowdsourcing to the actual signed contracts. Here’s what I found. Read the rest of this entry »