Is full-time freelance the only way big agencies hire outsourced talent? I've been approached by some decently big agencies who like my work, but will only bring me in if I commit to 40 hours/week. I have a handful of clients and can't exactly shut myself off from all opportunities because big agencies "need you available from 9am-6pm every day." Is this the only way to get in with well-known agencies? Do any allow for flat rate projects?

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40 hours of committed work a week is the dream. Then you can double dip with your other clients. (Though admittedly it gets tricky with timing.) If your other clients haven’t committed to 40/hr a week, they can work around your new schedule. Otherwise, they should be booking you for all that down time.

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Generally, the better (or bigger) agencies will hire you for full days.
Some even do weekly rates (or project rates).
In my experience, the idea is day rates.

Cobbling together a handful of hourly rate clients, for me, is only something to do when you can't get the regular day rate.

Interesting. Yeah I typically almost exclusively work on a flat-rate project basis, so day rates are new to me. I guess the agencies and companies I've worked for thus far aren't outsourcing at scale like these big agencies, so it's more piecemeal.

It's just impossible to completely clear my schedule for weeks at a time...

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