I think scientists probably have a pretty good idea of how many infections there will be in March 2021 and how many people will have been vaccinated by then. And I seriously doubt that the vaccination priorities are going to go to healthy men ages 20-40 who are not essential workers. I agree we are getting ahead of ourselves, but teams aren’t going to be in any hurry to play games in empty stadiums.
And this, my friends, is why Chris Davis won’t be cut this winter. Starting in May means the O’s would save $4-6 mm off his salary, assuming the salaries are cut proportionally to games missed. By the way, I don’t know if that is a correct assumption, because I’m not sure if the deal that MLB cut with the players for 2020 carries over into 2021 or not if games are missed.
My quibble here is that the term “market rate” means what teams are willing to pay. I’d say teams don’t pay these players their theoretical value. But we mean the same thing.
I don’t think the market is static. Two players could have identical performance and demand could be higher or lower depending on circumstances. Let’s say you have two players who each were worth 1.0 WAR. One is a DH, the other is a middle infielder. Those two players may have equal value hypothetically, but one could be in greater demand than the other depending on what’s available in the market. A team that already has two DH types and a shortage of middle infielders is not going to be willing to pay the same amount for each player.
Just because a player is worth a certain amount of money according to WAR, doesn't mean teams are going to line up to pay a player that amount. A win is worth what, $8 or $9 million according to WAR? So according to that formula, Nunez is worth somewhere between $4 and $9 million.
But most teams don't pay players worth two wins or less anything near their market rate. Sure, there might be an exception or two, or someone might be worth two wins or less who's finishing out an expensive contract that was priced based on them being worth more wins than that.
Successful teams (without enormous budgets, and even then they still generally don't do this) pay free agent stars and superstars their market worth by WAR, and try to get the two win and under guys for dirt cheap to fill out the roster. This is what is meant by WAR not being linear. Guys like Renato Nunez aren't going to sign for anywhere from $4-$9 million, because it's not hard to stumble around in your farm system or on waivers and find guys for league minimum who have a good chance to be worth a similar amount.
All of MLB just passed on the opportunity to pay Nunez a $2-$3 million salary and control his rights for two more seasons after next for the cost of a waiver claim. I imagine if he signs with a team, it will be for less than that amount. You can talk until you're blue in the face about how the formula dictates he's worth that, but if no one is willing to pay a price because they can get the same thing for less money somewhere else, then it's asinine to insist that they should have paid him $2-$3 million
And come on. I don't think the Orioles are unique in their DH situation, and they've got a ton of corner outfielders and first basemen who need bats. We weren't the only team with "room" for him. Would they have kept him if they could have continued to pay him league minimum? Probably. What you're missing is that salary and production are two sides of the same coin. Yes, the Orioles cut Nunez because of money. Because his likely production was replaceable for less than $2-$3 million dollars