It's oh so quiet in free agency

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It could be something spooky and
nefarious like collusion, or perhaps that general managers have become more savvy about how they spend their team’s money (Jim Hendry
excluded, of course), but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notices that
there’s a striking difference between this offseason and 2006-07:

Thus far, more than halfway through the 2009-10 free agent signing
period, teams have given only seven players contracts of three years or
longer. In 2006-07, 31 players received deals of three or more years.


They handed out 29 multi-year contracts that averaged more than $5
million per season. This offseason, owners have given out a dozen
multiyear, $5 million-a-season deals.

The most significant difference? The
big-bank free agents. Teams coughed up over $100 million for Alfonso
Soriano, Barry Zito, Carlos Lee and Daisuke Matsuzaka that winter. On the heels of
a recession, this offseason is a different animal, with less premium
players seemingly entering their prime seasons, like the ones mentioned above. It’s possible that
Jason Bay could have found a $100 million contract in the past, but
that doesn’t mean it would have been wise. Matt Holliday, who turns 30 this month, is the only one
worthy of the threshold in the current marketplace, and there’s
increasing indications
that he’ll get there.

Obviously something has changed between then and now, but perhaps the biggest casualty is someone like me. Granted it’s January 2nd, but I’m sitting here recapping someone else’s article about the lack of activity in the free agent marketplace. It’s a sad state of affairs. Someone please rescue us from this current state of Hot Stove boredom.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.