"Elite capture of youth sports didn’t occur in a vacuum. It's just one of countless effects of a 40-year retreat from broad-based social and economic conditions and policies that kept extreme income and wealth inequalities in check."
Last year's free agent market was sluggish, albeit less so than this year. The problem this year is that a kind of "soft collusion" among front offices doesn't stand a chance against market forces that will produce the two biggest contracts in the history of major league baseball.
"The 90s were a crucible for pitchers. Newer ballparks were smaller and had stingier foul territories. The strike zone was the size of a license plate. Two rounds of expansion drafts diluted talent. More power hitting followed, as well as more 300 strikeout seasons by elite pitchers. The “Colorado Effect” made a superstar of Larry Walker but was harsh on pitchers who had to survive at high altitude. Baseballs were allegedly juiced. And so were the hitters—allegedly."
Big league baseball is right at a moment where an elite pitcher's ability to add speed to a baseball is sublimely balanced by an elite batter's ability to pick up that ball’s spin and speed. That’s good for the game.
Long-term, a dearth of homegrown talent in the future puts more pressure on a good return from a Machado trade now. Hopefully the team has a greater capacity for spotting top line talent developed by other teams than developing its own.