Fun with Free Agent Numbers

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Another free agent domino fell earlier today as outfielder Shin-Soo Choo signed a seven-year, $130 million deal with the Rangers. With Choo gone, Nelson Cruz is the last remaining elite free agent hitter left on the board while Stephen Drew, Matt Garza, and Bronson Arroyo are some of the top remaining players beyond Cruz.

With lots of talent accounted for, let’s have some fun with free agent numbers as of right now, December 21 at 6 PM. All data originally taken from MLB Trade Rumors and played around with in Excel.

Highest-Spending Teams (percentage of total spending in parentheses):

  • New York Yankees: $328,000,000 (18%)
  • Seattle Mariners: $261,800,000 (14%)
  • San Francisco Giants: $172,000,000 (9%)

Lowest-Spending Teams (percentage of total spending in parentheses):

  • Milwaukee Brewers: $1,950,000 (1%)
  • Atlanta Braves: $4,000,000 (2%)
  • Baltimore Orioles: $4,500,000 (2.5%)

Divisions ranked by spending (rank among 6 divisions in parentheses):

  • AL East: $463,750,000 (2)
  • AL Central: $290,750,000 (4)
  • AL West: $487,850,000 (1)
  • NL East: $182,475,000 (5)
  • NL Central: $97,900,000 (6)
  • NL West: $305,250,000 (3)

Spending by league:

  • American League: $1,242,350,000 (68%)
  • National League: $585,625,000 (32%)

Most players signed by a team:

  • New York Yankees: 9
  • Chicago White Sox: 6
  • San Francisco Giants: 6
  • Tampa Bay Rays: 6

Fewest players signed by a team:

  • Atlanta Braves: 1
  • Milwaukee Brewers: 1
  • Cleveland Indians: 1
  • Washington Nationals: 1
  • Baltimore Orioles: 1

Divisions ranked by most players signed (rank among 6 divisions in parentheses):

  • AL East: 23 (1)
  • AL Central: 18 (2)
  • AL West: 16 (4)
  • NL East: 13 (5)
  • NL Central: 11 (6)
  • NL West: 17 (3)

Total players signed by league:

  • American League: 57 (58%)
  • National League: 41 (42%)

Lengthiest deals:

  • Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners: 10 years
  • Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees: 7 years
  • Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers: 7 years

Percentage of multi-year deals by length:

  • 10 years: 1 (1%)
  • 7 years: 2 (2%)
  • 6 years: 1 (1%)
  • 5 years: 2 (2%)
  • 4 years: 6 (6%)
  • 3 years: 9 (9%)
  • 2 years: 28 (29%)
  • 1 year: 49 (50%)

Most multi-year deals given by team:

  • New York Yankees: 5
  • San Francisco Giants: 4
  • Tampa Bay Rays: 3
  • Cincinnati Reds: 3
  • Minnesota Twins: 3

Total amount earned by position on multi-year deals:

  • Starting Pitcher: $333,000,000 (19.5%)
  • Relief Pitcher: $154,625,000 (9%)
  • Catcher: $164,250,000 (9.5%)
  • Infield: $523,300,000 (30.5%)
  • Outfield: $576,200,000 (31.5%)

Multi-year deals earned by position:

  • Starting Pitcher: 9 (18%)
  • Relief Pitcher: 10 (20%)
  • Catcher: 6 (12%)
  • Infield: 13 (26.5%)
  • Outfield: 11 (22.5%)

If you notice any errors or omissions, let me know in the comments and I’ll make the necessary edits.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.