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The Royals have taken advantage of this weird offseason

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The Royals have picked up some bargains.

Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

With the recent signings of the left over free agents and dwindling of this slow off-season, our full realization to how out of the ordinary this off-season has been has finally hit us. It’s been overstated, yet very true, that nobody saw the this quiet market for free agents coming.

A sense of how different this off-season has been can be built up by reading through this research conducted by our commander-in-chief, Max Rieper.

You can see that the percentage of free agents that have signed before January 1 has plummeted in the last three seasons. This year, the percentage of free agents from that group that has signed by January 1 is at its lowest level in the past five seasons, below 50%. However there is a caveat to that, in that the sample group from 2017-2018 could be altered, depending on who signs contracts worth over $5 million or end up signing minor league deals or not signing at all by Opening Day.

Which was also inspected by Fangraphs own Craig Edwards...

Last season, for instance, 65 players signed free-agent deals in February, the greatest number since 2009 and the third consecutive year in which February signings had increased in volume. This February, that mark will once again be broken — unless, that is, a large volume of signings move into March.

Perhaps maybe the word unpredictable can be the word best used to describe this offseason. Like Max and Craig, I worked with some of my own research based off of Fangraphs free agent contract crowdsourcing projects, comparing the predicted figures for said player to the actual contract that said player received. I did this with five sample seasons, dating all the way back to the 2013-14 offseason.

Fangraphs Contract Crowdsourcing Accuracy

Offseason Predicted Money ($) Actual Money ($) Actual/Predicted
Offseason Predicted Money ($) Actual Money ($) Actual/Predicted
2013-14 1426.3 1419.2 99.51%
2014-15 1517.2 1572.1 103.62%
2015-16 2405.0 2235.4 92.95%
2016-17 1546.0 1188.4 76.87%
2017-18 1501.9 1137.0 75.70%

This chart may visual it better, showing that before the 2017 offseason, not this offseason, the crowdsourcing project was actually fairly accurate. The past two off-seasons have been missed badly, with this one being the worst.

And evidently with the decreased accuracy comes some very surprising contract figures for players on the market. Even with the increased amount of misses from last off-season, players like Logan Morrison, Mike Moustakas, Lance Lynn, and Todd Frazier were all expected to get $30 million in the worst case. I mean, if a 72 wRC+, -1.5 WAR Kendrys Morales or 37-year-old reliever Brad Ziegler can get $15 million+, then surely these guys can. Well, not in this off-season.

Once the contract figures started to roll out for the mentioned Morrison, Moustakas, Lynn, and Frazier started to roll out, we were all surprised.

Crowdsourcing Misses

Player Year Projected Contract ($) Actual Contract ($) Actual/Predicted
Player Year Projected Contract ($) Actual Contract ($) Actual/Predicted
Todd Frazier 2018 45.90 17.00 37.04%
Logan Morrison 2018 25.70 6.50 25.29%
Lance Lynn 2018 53.20 12.00 22.56%
Mike Moustakas 2018 80.70 6.50 8.05%

And as a matter of fact, the recently signed Moustakas was the most inaccurate contract crowdsource prediction out of all players projected to receive $50 million+ since the 2014 offseason.

Moustakas received a staggeringly low eight percent of what he was projected to get. It’s safe to assume that in basically any other year, he’s getting a multi-year deal with at least double digit million AAV. I’ll also acknowledge part of this could be the fault of Moustakas and Scott Boras waiting too long for a contract that was never there, with maybe also a bit of it coming from a “perfect storm” scenario, mainly coming from the lack of suitors. Regardless, nobody saw this dramatic lack of money coming for Moustakas. And this is part of the reason I can get with the signing. If you would have told me the Royals would be able to get him at eight percent of predicted value, I would have been signed up from day one, no matter what direction I wanted the team to go.

And as I briefly talked about above, Moustakas wasn’t the only one that was hurt this off-season. There were a ton.

And hey! Would you look at that. The Royals have signed three of the top ten contract differences this offseason, that being the highlighted Moustakas, Jon Jay, and Lucas Duda. Call what you want, but I guess you could say the Royals are taking advantage of the off-season misfits. Wrapping up $12.5 million into a trio of players that was projected to get around $110 million is some bargain buying.

It’s most likely that the Royals won’t be near contention this year, but these signings can still serve a purpose. Part of rebuilding can be finding these cheap deals to first, possibly flip at the deadline, and second, help the development of younger players (no prospects were screaming for the center field or first base jobs).

And if you ask me, it’s better spending than signing a single first baseman for $144 million.