Jan 9, 2019

MLB's "riches of free agency" no longer exist

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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."

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Fauci's security beefed up following threats

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Security has been stepped up for Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, after he received "growing threats to his personal safety," the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Fauci as the top U.S. infectious diseases expert plays a leading role in the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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World coronavirus updates: Spain's health care system overloaded

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Two planes carrying protective equipment arrived to restock Spain’s overloaded public health system on Wednesday as confirmed cases surpassed 100,000 and the nation saw its biggest death toll so far, Reuters reports.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 930,000 and the global death toll exceeded 46,000 on Wednesday night, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy has reported more than 13,000 deaths.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 932,605 — Total deaths: 46,809 — Total recoveries: 193,177Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 213,372 — Total deaths: 4,757 — Total recoveries: 8,474Map.
  3. Business updates: Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus job crisis.
  4. World updates: Spain’s confirmed cases surpassed 100,000, and the nation saw its biggest daily death toll so far. More than 500 people were reported dead within the last 24 hours in the U.K., per Johns Hopkins.
  5. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania are the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders — Michigan has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, an increase of 1,200 and 78 new deaths in 24 hours.
  6. Stock market updates: Stocks closed more than 4% lower on Wednesday, continuing a volatile stretch for the stock market amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  7. 1 future thing: Shifts to telemedicine, at-home diagnostics, and drone delivery are all likely lasting consequences from this pandemic.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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