It is time the fourth annual installment of my Cubs Insider feature comparing free agent contracts against crowdsourced predictions. As I have argued for several years now, these comparisons are about more than just allowing us to measure the health of the offseason market. They may also be predictive of the players union’s mood, as happiness is largely a function of whether reality measures up to expectations.
The sluggish offseason meant that prior to Tuesday (Jan 5) only five of the top 50 crowdsourced free agents had signed. We mercifully had a brief flurry of activity Tuesday as two multi-year deals were announced. Detroit signed outfielder Robbie Grossman to a two year, $10 million deal and the Dodgers re-signed reliever Blake Treinen for $17.5 million over two years with a club option. These provide enough data points for me to report the early returns.
As of today, the difference in average annual value (Δ AAV) is negligible at -$0.05 million, meaning the masses have been right on the money so far. The average total contract has been $1.75 million more in total value (Δ $Total) than predicted, nearly all due to the Mets’ largess. They signed Trevor May and James McCann for larger than expected contracts. Nevertheless, overall free agent spending remains historically low this offseason.
The crowdsourced predictions are based only on post-arbitration free agents and do not include any of the non-tendered free agents, like Kyle Schwarber. My data will be updated as the offseason progresses. Perhaps we will even see a Cubs free agent signing hit the spreadsheet.