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The sluggish free agent market is helping the Marlins

The Marlins’ controllable pieces are only gaining in value.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There have been many comments regarding the glacial pace of free agent signings so far this off season. As of January 12th, prominent free agents such as J.D. Martinez, Jake Arietta, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas and others are still free agents.

Interestingly, all the unsigned free agents listed above are Scott Boras clients. Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs wrote an excellent article on this topic and others have noted a seeming change of view on signing expensive free agents.

Even a non-Boras but fairly high profile free agent such as Jay Bruce signed a team-friendly three year, $39 million contract with the Mets.

MLB: ALDS-New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A quick take on this phenomenon is the seeming hard line of today’s free agents such as J.D. Martinez, whom Jon Heyman notes is holding out for a $200 million deal from the Red Sox or other suitors such as the Diamondbacks, juxtaposed with the equally hard line of teams’ not ponying up for their services as they’ve done in the past.

We will see more more clearly over the next month as these free agents do or don’t get signed how much of a true market shift this is.

But what does this have to do with the Marlins? Aren’t they rebuilding?

Quick question: have you heard about more potential suitors for Yelich and/or Realmuto, or for J.D. Martinez? Perhaps I am biased in that I cover the Marlins, but I would say that there clearly are more teams rumored to have interest in the Marlins’ players than in Martinez.

MLB: NL Wildcard-Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One natural reason for this is cost. Most any team can afford Realmuto or Yelich given their long, team-friendly concept. Despite gaudy power numbers, Martinez, Realmuto, and Yelich have similar fWAR numbers from 2017 (3.8, vs. 4.5 vs. 3.6). It is an appealing move to get a total of 8.1 fWAR vs. 3.8 for much much less money.

The downside to this, of course, is that the Marlins players require a haul of prospects headed to the Fish, while Martinez “just” requires boat loads of cash.

With supply and demand being what it is, one would assume that the longer the high priced free agents hold out, some teams will lose interest in them and perhaps turn more to the Marlins for their needs. This could in turn increase the haul the Marlins get for either of these two players (and Starlin Castro as well while we’re on the topic).

So, from a Marlins perspective, let the free agents hold out! A market shift in views towards free agents this off season may increase the return you get in a trade, and the higher the chance of getting premier Tier 1 prospects.

If Derek Jeter sticks to the path he’s trodden down already and continues to hit the reset button, the front office could be stumbling backwards into good timing courtesy of the seeming reluctance by teams around baseball to dive into a Boras-laden free agent crop.