This is an excerpt from the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for more than 20 years.
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"Historically speaking, it shouldn’t be the Red Sox and Yankees and Dodgers signing Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, but rather the teams just outside the playoff picture last year, like the Mariners and Rays. Those are the teams that have gone big in free agency in the past. The next group down, too, the ones on the come-up like the White Sox and Padres and Phillies. There’s more precedent for sub-.500 teams signing $200 million players than there is for playoff teams doing so.
"Those are the teams that, thanks to massive growth in national revenue, thanks to the $68 million one-time payment from the sale of BAMtech, thanks to the sharing of local revenue, have sat out free agency. It’s not the lack of action at the top of the standings or the payroll scale that breaks from history, but rather the lack of action from the teams who would normally be climbing the ladder."