It's about time for the Hot Stove to get going, right? The MLB season has been over for nearly a month, and other than Doug Fister and a minor Jerry Dipoto trade, we've gotten bupkus. Where's Giancarlo Stanton going? Is he even going anywhere? Who's going to sign Yu Darvish? What's the Shohei Ohtani pitch going to be? Who bites the bullet on J.D. Martinez? All great questions! And they all have the exact same answer as they did one week ago, or one month ago: We have no idea.
Nothing is happening in this market until either Stanton gets traded or Darvish gets signed, and those still haven't happened. We're all still twiddling our thumbs.
So when will they? When will the market thaw? It is helpful to look to the past. Here's a glance at the dates when the top free agents moved over the past six years -- every year back to the Albert Pujols signing, still the biggest free-agent signing of the last decade -- to see when the market really got started. How much longer must we twiddle our thumbs? Here's how long we twiddled them in the past.
Top free agents: Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Turner, Aroldis Chapman, Edwin Encarnacion, Dexter Fowler
Date of first major free-agent signing: Nov. 30 (Cespedes)
This one is a little deceiving, because the Mets were always likely to re-sign Cespedes after he opted out of his contract. Cespedes was technically on the open market, but it never felt that way. You can also tell the Mets had an inside track by the fact that no other major moves happened for a couple of weeks. Chapman went from the Cubs to the Yankees on Dec. 8, Fowler signed with the Cardinals on Dec. 9 and Justin Turner re-signed with the Dodgers on Dec. 12. The last major domino to fall was Edwin Encarnacion, who signed with the Indians two days before Christmas. But Cespedes was the exception: He didn't so much open the floodgates as he did confirm what most assumed was already happening.
Top free agents: David Price, Jason Heyward, Zack Greinke, Yoenis Cespedes, Johnny Cueto
Date of first major free-agent signing: Dec. 4 (Price)
Everyone was waiting on Price and Heyward, and, much like this year, everyone was waiting on the Cardinals, who were widely expected to bid heavily on both. They did, but they finished in second place each time. Price, who had said he expected to end up in St. Louis, took a massively-upgraded-at-the-last-second deal from the Red Sox, and then nine days later, Heyward took roughly the same money from the Cubs that he was being offered by the Cardinals to try to go make history in Chicago. (He did, though his bat remains a disappointment.) Greinke fell quickly after Price, and Cueto went a few days after that, so that's a good sign: When you see Darvish sign, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and company will fall shortly thereafter.
Top free agents: Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Hanley Ramirez, James Shields
Date of first major free-agent signing: Nov. 25 (Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval)
This one is definitely misleading, because the Red Sox made their big splash by signing the two sluggers right before Thanksgiving, and then there was hardly anything for weeks and then months. (And boy, this Red Sox move sure did turn out well, didn't it?) The first huge shoe to drop was Jon Lester signing with the Cubs during the Winter Meetings on Dec. 13. But we had to wait forever for the true stud of the class, Scherzer, who didn't ink his new deal with the Nationals until Jan. 21. If anybody waits that long this year, every baseball writer I know is going to claw their face off.
Top free agents: Robinson Cano, Masahiro Tanaka, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury
Date of first major free-agent signing: Dec. 7 (Ellsbury)
The Yankees swiping Ellsbury from their rivals -- rivals that had just won a World Series -- was the first strike of the postseason, but the big story of the 2013 Hot Stove was how Jay-Z was going to do with Robinson Cano, his first big baseball client. It turned out that he did just fine, getting Cano a $240-million, 10-year contract with the Mariners on Dec. 6. (Though it's worth noting Jay-Z hasn't exactly taken over the MLB agent game.) Cano has been fine for the Mariners, but they still haven't made the playoffs. That Choo deal was on Dec. 27, and it has all gone wrong since.
Top free agents: Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke
Date of first major free-agent signing: Dec. 10 (Greinke)
An incredibly slow free-agent season -- the third-biggest signing that offseason might have been B.J./Melvin Upton -- got Greinke off the board on Dec. 10 and then Hamilton, in a deal that looked like a reach the minute it was signed, four days later. Hamilton would hit 31 homers in two seasons for the Angels, which was a problem, considering it was a five-year deal. It finally expired this year.
Top free agents: Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes
Date of first major free-agent signing: Dec. 10 (Pujols)
This was the bonanza year, with everybody staring at Pujols and waiting to see what he would do, just a month after winning his second World Series with the Cardinals. Right as the Winter Meetings were ending, the word broke: Pujols was signing a massive 10-year, $254-million deal with the Angels. The deal has turned out to be a morass for the Angels -- there are four more years left to go -- though it's worth noting that Fielder's deal with the Tigers, signed a month-and-a-half later, was for just one year shorter and $40 million lighter, and Fielder has been out of the game for two years. He'll get $18 million each of the next three years. At least Pujols will still hit some homers.
So, as frustrating as it is to sit and wait … if the past is any indication, there's still plenty of waiting left to do. Unless you want to go outside of Derek Jeter's offices in Miami and stare at him until he trades Stanton. (Don't do this.)