The holidays have passed, and we are now talking about 2024, and the opening of Spring Training camps. There are still 79 free agent position players unsigned with positive WAR projections per FanGraphs. In addition, there are 86 free agent pitchers unsigned that FanGraphs has positive WAR projections. Certainly, the math has is clear that there are 5.50 free agents per team on average with positive WAR to sign — but some of them might go on minor league deals, others might retire, and top players are still being pursued.
When you consider just the Boras Corporation clients like Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, Cody Bellinger, and Rhys Hoskins, just to name a few, they are all unsigned free agents. There are eight starting pitchers with +2.0 WAR projections still unsigned, and five position players that could move that needle at +2.0 WAR or better. Of course every GM is looking for the hidden gems that will cost less than their MLBTR projections.
The Cubs, Blue Jays and Red Sox have spent $0 so far in free agency, and technically, so has the New York Yankees. These are all teams that are supposed to contend. In fact, there are 12 teams that have spent less than the Washington Nationals in free agency so far. At some point, and now is a good time, teams should start signing players — and keep in mind that technically minor league signings don’t get announced until they are assigned to a minor league team. So yes, there have probably been some minor league signings that have happened and not accounted for.
While Nats fans have to be stressed about the roster, just think that how Cubs fans feel right now after they just missed the playoffs, and three of their top players, Bellinger, Marcus Stroman, and Jeimer Candelario, all left for free agency. They’ve done next to nothing so far.
There are also several players like Dylan Cease getting dangled on the trade market, and that really adds to that list of top players available. Expect some other players to get dealt also as we get closer to free agency. The Marlins have been another team rumored to be looking to trade pitching.
At some point soon, we hope to celebrate a Nats signing that can make us all happy. The signings of Nick Senzel, Dylan Floro, Juan Yepez, Lewin Diaz, and Nasim Nuñez moved the WAR meter up by +0.6. That’s not good when you consider that is for five players.
For now, we continue on wait and see mode.