Dave Studeman at the Hardball Times examines free agent cycles over time in his most recent article, and the data reveals a couple of interesting things. Even though the overall salaries have been continually increasing since Free Agency came into being, the rate of change has been anything but constant. What are causing these fluctuations? Studeman offers a couple interesting possibilities, one of which involves the contributions by pre-arbitration players:
Although the new CBA brings into effect a higher minimum salary, the drastic increase in free agent salaries seems to have more than made up for it from a cash outlay perspective. This, in my view, makes in ever more imperative for clubs to not only make good use of pre-arbitrarion players, but to make sure that those players are ready to contribute as soon as possible.
As an aside, I'm really glad that the Indians were able to lock up Cliff Lee before the offseason.