The Holliday deal "will go down as one of the worst deals in major league history"

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Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal were on the same page with their Hall of Fame voting pieces this morning. They’re likewise on the same page in passing along disdain for the Matt Holliday deal too.  First was Robo talking about Boras’ bluff and now here’s Buster passing along two quotes regarding the Cardinals’ overpayment, the first from an MLB official:

“Given what was in front of the Cardinals, that will go down as
one of the worst deals in major league history. I have to give [Scott] Boras credit — he managed to get them to bid
against themselves. After the Mets signed [Jason] Bay, everybody pretty
much knew who was in and who was out. No Yankees, no Red Sox, no Mets,
no Dodgers, no Angels — and he still got $120 million. Incredible.”

And then one from a “veteran agent”:

“[When the Mets signed Bay] the Cardinals should have called [Boras] and said, ‘You
know that other offer we had on the table? Well, it’s obsolete. We’re
now offering you $80 million for five years, and you’ve got 48 hours to
make a decision.’ I don’t think Boras would have had a choice but to
make a deal.”

I agree that the Cardinals overpaid, at the very least in terms of years. I wonder, though, whether other teams would have come back into the bidding if a five-year, $80 million take-it-or-leave-it offer was on the table.  

Free agent market slow, but players who have signed have exceeded expectations

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The winter meetings are near the end — many execs are leaving Vegas tonight — and once again, the free agent market has moved rather slowly. Last year’s free agent market was perhaps the slowest in recent memory. This offseason, only 11 multi-year contracts have been signed by free agents to date. Six have been for two years, three have been for three years, one for four years, and one for six years.

Despite another slowly-moving free agent market, the players are optimistic because those that have signed contracts have exceeded expectations in terms of total value, per Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal. Patrick Corbin got $140 million, Nathan Eovaldi got $68 million, Andrew McCutchen got $50 million. Heck, even Lance Lynn coming off of a bad year got $30 million from the Rangers.

For comparison, as the offseason began, Fancred’s insider Jon Heyman (and an unnamed “expert”) made predictions about what the various free agent markets would get. Heyman and the expert predicted $100 million and $85 million, respectively, for Corbin, who got $140 million. They predicted $45 million and $64 million, respectively, for Eovaldi, who got $68 million. And they foresaw $39 million and $60 million for McCutchen, who got $50 million. Heyman predicted Charlie Morton would take the $17.9 million qualifying offer and the expert predicted he’d sign a one-year, $17 million deal. Morton got two years and $30 million. Heyman predicted 2/$16M for Lance Lynn and the expert only went a million higher at 2/$17M. He got 3/$30M.

Heyman isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so let’s also glance at the predictions from MLB Trade Rumors. 6/$129M for Corbin, 4/$60M for Eovaldi, 3/$45M for McCutchen, 2/$32M for Morton, and 2/$16M for Lynn. MLBTR hit a lot closer to the center of the dartboard, so to speak, but generally the players still got a bit more than anticipated, which is good, and justifies the optimism. Hopefully the trend continues over the coming two or three months.

Going forward, though, we probably should adjust our expectations of the winter meetings. Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times brought up a great point, tweeting, “One problem with the Winter Meetings is they are still marketed as a news-making event at a time when executives no longer feel urgency to make news at said event.” All of the execs and journalists have access to one another via cell phones, so it’s become more of a hobnobbing event than a place to wheel and deal. These days, a deal could just as easily happen in the days leading up to or following the winter meetings. Maybe it’s just the new normal that we’ll be going into February with handfuls of free agents still looking for a new home.