There's plenty of speculation floating around the web about how much the current class of free agents will sign for, but there's not as much discussion about what they should sign for. I come to remedy that situation.
Below are listed all the hitters from Tim Dierkes' list of the Top 50 Free Agents, for whom I've attempted to project their true talent objectively. For offense, I eye-balled a weighted average of their Batting Wins from Baseball-Reference. For position, I used Tom Tango's position adjustments. And for fielding, I used Sean Smith's fielding projections (which you really should check out if you haven't already).
To convert to replacement-level, I added in 2.25 wins. And then to come up with a dollar value for each player, I multiplied the total WAR (wins-above-replacement) by $4.84MM (a 10% increase over last off-season's $4.4MM per marginal win) and added in the $400K minimum salary.
To be clear, I don't claim that these numbers are accurate to the nearest million dollars or should be accepted by all of you reading this article. The beauty of having this list is that we now have a starting point. If you think Manny Ramirez is going to totally fall off a cliff, simply adjust his offensive number down. If you think Orlando Hudson's glove will rebound to Mark Ellis territory, simply adjust his fielding number up. Every half-win is worth $2.4MM. Go crazy.
Here's the data, sorted from the most- to the least-valuable players:
- Note that I reduced the catchers' production by 20% to account for lower expected playing time. I also didn't include a fielding rating for any of them.
- Sean's fielding projections didn't have an outfield projection for Casey Blake. I think he's pretty average out there.
- Milton Bradley is listed as both a right fielder and a designated hitter, since some people don't think he's a good injury risk in the field, even though he's a good fielder. On the other hand, guys like Jason Giambi, Pat Burrell, and Adam Dunn are almost exactly as valuable in the field as compared to designated hitter.
- Mark Teixeira is clearly the cream of the free agent crop. Not only does he deserve the most money, he should get the longest contract, due to his age.
- Keep in mind these players' dollar values are being compared to other free agent salaries. Spending money on free agents is usually a waste of money, and really is only a smart idea when used to plug holes on teams expecting to contend for the playoffs.
- Free agent starters can be found here.
Which values do you most disagree with? Which players will actually be paid much more or much less than their listed salaries? Which other free agent position players are worth analyzing?