From 2012 to 2021, MLB teams spent a collective $16.66 billion on free agency. Thirty-one players received deals valued at $100-plus million and another 55 received $50 million or more. Some of those deals paid huge dividends -- Max Scherzer's seven-year contract with the Nationals was the best of the big-money signings. Many of those deals did not come close to working out as teams hoped.
Of the 10 free agents who received the biggest contract each year, two won a World Series -- David Price with the Red Sox in 2018 and Scherzer in 2019. Those 10 players have played, so far, 43 seasons with the team that signed them -- and made just 13 playoff appearances, or roughly the same one-in-three odds that would happen randomly.
An examination of the past decade of free agency can help point to why the sport is where it is right now, with the owners having locked out the players and little momentum being made in creating a new collective bargaining agreement. The players are upset as their percentage of revenue has declined in recent years. That's true. It's also true that many of the top free agents simply haven't performed and front offices are less willing to sign free agents with the same approach as five or 10 years ago.