Will free agency be a buyer's market?

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It has been common in recent years for general managers to gripe about the quality of a class of free agents, about the lack of quality and depth.

But that will not be the case this fall, when there will be many, many high-end performers up for auction: Zack Greinke, David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Johnny Cueto, Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, Chris Davis, Ben Zobrist and plenty of others.

There may be so many good free agents, however, that the volume skews the winter into a significant buyer's market, because there don't appear to be a lot of teams prepared to spend on massive contracts.

The folks from the 28 teams not in the World Series are spending a lot of time these days preparing for the winter, and agents are preparing for negotiations, and generally their forecast for the market ahead is a slow-developing landscape.

"I know there are a lot of guys who will want nine-figure contracts," one evaluator said recently. "I just don't know who is going to pay them."

There could be several factors contributing to the shift in market conditions.

1. In recent years, the players' association has encouraged agents and players to get more players through at least six years of service time and into free agency, rather than grabbing guaranteed money in team-friendly deals earlier in their careers.