Are the days of overpaying Free Agents for what they have done as opposed to what they will do in Major League Baseball over? Or, are owners colluding to cheapen the pool of unsigned wannabe players in 2018?

Both are good questions. Some say the clubs are just playing smart ball after getting stuck in expensive, non-productive contracts. Others claim players in their prime are not being duly compensated. While 2018 has a few studs available, 2019 will offer younger, more valuable superstars who may actually be worth top dollar.

To date, 68 free agents have been signed for the upcoming season.

The Cubs will pay Yu Darvish $21 million a year and Philadelphia inked Carlos Santana for $20 million. Only Pittsburgh and Miami have not signed at least one free agent. The Mets inked six.

Eric Hosmer, 28, is the latest player to sign. The San Diego Padres offered the infielder $144 million over eight years. Hosmer earned it. He hit 25 home runs, drove in 94 and batted a career high .318. Hosmer drove in 91 runs and scored 80 in each season since 2015. He is a career .284 hitter.


Mike Trout is widely considered the best outfielder in baseball. The 26-year-old is set to earn $33.25 million in each of the next three seasons as the Angles and Trout complete an 11-year, $148 million contract.

If that is the smartest deal in MLB, the club’s signing of Albert Pujols for $240 for 10 years in 2012 must look like one of the worst.

Pujols looked like a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer after 11 years in St. Louis. He hit .328, 445 home runs and 1,329 RBI. He was a nine-time all-star and three-time MVP. Pujols was also 31 when he left.

Entering year seven of Pujols’ Angles' contract, he has hit .262, 158 homers and 589 RBI. Los Angeles was robbed by paying for what someone did somewhere else instead of what the now 38-year-old “earns” with the new club.

Best unsigned players

J.D. Martinez is probably the best offensive prospect in the 2018 market, and the 30-year-old outfielder knows it.

Martinez is coming off a career year hitting .305, 45 home runs, 104 RBI and a WAR around 2. Martinez has hit 128 homers over his past three seasons, Had 350 runs and hit .300 in more than 1,900 at bats. His agent is believed to be looking for $200 million. Mike Moustakas, 29, hit 38 home runs last year, knocked in 85 runs, and posted an OPS of .835 for Kansas City. Moustakas missed most of 2016 with a torn ACL. He won AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2017.

Former St. Louis hurler Lance Lynn might be the most reputable pitcher on the market, in spite of Tommy John surgery in 2016. He could be an ace on some squads and a No. 3 or No. 4 on the best teams. Former Cy Young-winner Jake Arrieta is available, but there are some velocity questions. Greg Holland chose to bet on himself and turned down Colorado’s $17.4 million qualifying offer last year after recording 41 saves and winning NL Comeback Player of the Year.