With the Padres reeling in Manny Machado for a cool $300 million, the rest of the league holds its collective breath waiting for the other shoe to drop. That other shoe is Bryce Harper. Several teams are in the running for the super star and it appears as if the Philadelphia Phillies are still the favorites.
The question is, what does this all mean for baseball free agency as a whole? Well, a certain trend is making itself visible. Rather than every team trying to outspend the other every winter, ball clubs are starting the build from the farm.
The Padres, Cubs, Red Sox, and Astros all have followed, more-or-less, the same plan. The teams have a wealth of young Major and Minor league talent. Each team has then supplemented their rosters with key players they could not have developed on their own.
The Padres are obviously the most recent example. With infielders Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias along with catcher Francisco Meijia, who are top 20 major league prospects in their own right, the addition of Machado may be what sends them to the playoffs. Even if this year doesn’t pan out for the Padres, the farm system for San Diego is strong and will pump youthful talent into the major leagues soon.
This trend seems likely to continue. More and more teams are trying to stay well under the luxury tax, even though the league has no hard salary cap. Twenty-five of the thirty teams are not within $20 million of the threshold.
Free agency is far from over. Harper, Kimbrel, and Keuchel are still unsigned as of yet. The trend, currently, is to spend less. We will all wait and see what that means for the rest of this years free agent class.
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