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Expand chart
Data: Spotrac; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

For the second straight year, baseball free agency is moving at a snail's pace as a new crop of risk-averse general managers are refusing to pay players for past results and are increasingly embracing the rebuild (it's not "tanking" but it's close).

Why it matters: "For decades, players thrived under the current setup — club-imposed salaries for their first three years, arbitration-inflated numbers for the next three, the riches of free agency after six," writes The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal (subscription).

By the numbers: Four of the top seven free agents (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel) and nine of the top 20, per Sports Illustrated, remain unsigned.

  • Silver lining: Relative to a year ago, the number of free agent signings and total money spent have both increased. Still, they're lower than in any of the previous six seasons (as depicted above).

But in recent years, teams have started to take advantage of that system and, for many players, the "riches of free agency" are simply no longer there.

  • The bottom line: "There is a growing consensus ... that the system is broken," writes Rosenthal.

Closing remarks, via the WSJ's Jared Diamond: "It's perfectly reasonable to say that it's smart for teams not to pay free agents the enormous sums of money they want, as long as you acknowledge how anticapitalist it is for players to be forced into below-market wages for as many as seven years before they hit the free market."

  • "Maybe players have an unreasonable expectation of what they're worth on the open market. ... But remember that they spent their entire career up to that point making far less than their worth because of baseball's economic system."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”