Major-league players can already boast of a record contract haul this offseason.
Teams have spent $3.65 billion on free agents so far, surpassing the $3.14 billion spent on the open market last winter - the first time the $3-billion mark was exceeded.
While MLB revenues hit a record of $10.8 billion last year, as reported by Forbes' Maury Brown, the number was up only modestly compared to the last full season before the pandemic in 2019 ($10.7 billion). Players who signed deals can feel they've done extremely well; they've earned $1.5 billion more in free agency than the 2019-2020 class.
The free-agent deals signed thus far also mark a record for their annual average values, and likely their term too at 2.29 years per deal. That's the longest average contract length since at least 2003-04. Some of the longer-term contracts were stretched out by clubs to, ostensibly, reduce their future taxable payroll dollars. Whether clubs will regret locking in those long-term deals will be something to monitor with MLB's largest regional sports network partner, Diamond Sports-owned Bally Sports Network, on its way to bankruptcy court.
While this winter set records, the nature of free agency - in terms of who spends and who benefits - remained largely unchanged in the first full offseason of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Of the recorded spending, eight players, or 8% of free agents to sign this winter, account for 54% - or $1.97 billion - of dollars guaranteed.
theScore analyzed the last two decades' worth of free-agent spending data via Cot's Baseball Contracts and found that despite progressively restrictive luxury taxes and additional competitive balance measures, the landscape of MLB free agency largely remains unchanged 20 years after "Moneyball."
For instance, the five highest-spending clubs from 2004-13 spent $7.22 in free agency for every $1 spent by the bottom five clubs.