School soccer season is over, and the NFL already has trimmed its area of championship hopefuls from 32 to eight. The NBA has solely 11 days left in its All-Star balloting course of. On Sunday, will we be one month away from the preliminary spring coaching reporting date for pitchers and catchers. But we have no idea the place this yr’s high free brokers — Manny Machado and Bryce Harper — will be enjoying this season.

Is that this uncommon? You guess it’s. I keep a database of varied free agent-related knowledge, which ranks every class in accordance to a easy 10-year projection, even when that size of projection is probably going to lengthen nicely previous the top of a participant’s profession. The error bar on any one in every of these projections is big, nevertheless it’s meant extra to have a look at group dynamics than to pin down a decade of any particular person’s future manufacturing.

Anyway, together with this scorching range season, there have been 86 gamers ranked first or second in a free-agent class by this technique. Solely 15 of these elite targets had been unsigned as of the month and day on which you’re studying this — Jan. 11. That features the system’s high two final winter (Lorenzo Cain and Jake Arrieta) and this winter (Machado and Harper).

Meaning solely 11 of the primary 82 (13 %) top-two free brokers since 1976 lasted this far into the offseason. And the overwhelming majority of these 11 had simple explanations for why it took so lengthy for them to signal:

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