Free Agents Already Worth Their 2011 Salary

This morning we looked at the top free agents in terms of ERA+ and OPS+, but that's a simplistic view of things. Teams are always looking for surplus value, which is the amount of production a player provides beyond his salary. That's why quality players in their pre-arbitration years are so valuable, they're the most bang for the buck.

FanGraphs puts a dollar value on every player's performance based on how much teams have paid for similar production on the free agent market in recent years. Using that data, let's see what free agents from this past offseason are already providing surplus value to the teams that signed them…

Position Players

  • Jack Hannahan, Indians – $500K salary, $5.3MM value ($4.8MM surplus)
  • Jeff Francoeur, Royals – $2.5MM salary, $6.4MM value ($3.9MM surplus)
  • Russell Martin, Yankees – $4MM salary, $6.1MM value  ($2.1MM surplus)
  • Lance Berkman, Cardinals – $8MM salary, $9.6MM value ($1.6MM surplus)
  • Melky Cabrera, Royals – $1.25MM salary, $2.6MM value ($1.35MM surplus)

Pitchers

  • Brandon McCarthy, Athletics – $1MM salary, $5.1MM value ($4.1MM surplus)
  • Bartolo Colon, Yankees – $900K salary, $2.4MM value ($1.5MM surplus)
  • Dustin Moseley, Padres – $900K salary, $2MM value ($1.1MM surplus)
  • Joel Peralta, Rays – $925K salary, $1MM value ($75K surplus)

Both Kevin Correia ($2.2MM value, $3MM salary) and Jeff Francis ($1.6MM value, $2MM salary) are a few good starts from joining the group. Orlando Hudson ($3.7MM value, $4MM salary) and Pat Burrell ($900K value, $1MM salary) are knocking on the door as well.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the salary info.


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51 Comments on "Free Agents Already Worth Their 2011 Salary"


MikeKC
4 years 2 months ago

Bruce Chen should be added to the group.

4 years 2 months ago

He’s not even close. $2M salary, $400K in performance.

YanksFanSince78
4 years 2 months ago

That seems odd. He has great results. Is it because of his high FIP? IMO, in this kind of valuation, the results on paper matter more. I always view FIP and xFIP as tools to use in judgement to just how good a pitcher is. But in this case, when measuring bang for buck FIP is somewhat irrelevant.

vtadave
4 years 2 months ago

xFIP is more a tool for predicting future performance, so this is odd.

Encarnacion's Parrot
4 years 2 months ago

His SIERA is 5.02, if that helps.

jwredsox
4 years 2 months ago

What their performance is worth in dollars comes from WAR which, assuming they’re using fangraphs WAR, comes from FIP.

YanksFanSince78
4 years 2 months ago

That’s my point. This post is an attempt to measure outlay vs results. A 3.50 ERA is what Chen has provided regardless of whether FIP or xFIP say it’s sustainable. Where not PROJECTING who will be worth their pay for the rest of the season, simply what they have done thus far.Therefor, maybe WAR isn’t the best tool to use if it’s dependent on FIP.

Encarnacion's Parrot
4 years 2 months ago

FIP is judged heavily by strikeout rates, walk rates and home run rates. Chen’s K/9 rate of a fugly 5.06 and 7 HR in 42⅔ IP (1HR every 6IP) is holding him back.

I’ll add that rWAR doesn’t use FIP, but takes actual runs allowed and adjusts for park, ERA, league, opponent, and defense. Baseball Reference, which uses rWAR, has Chen at 0.7 rWAR. If my math is correct, with FanGraphs WAR-to-$ value formula, Chen is worth $2.8mil so far for an $800,000 surplus.

notsureifsrs
4 years 2 months ago

always good to keep in mind that rWAR sucks, though. if you’re going to take something over FIP/fWAR, it oughta be tRA/SIERA

Encarnacion's Parrot
4 years 2 months ago

I thought about using SIERA, because like you said, rWAR sucks, but after 6 or 7 beers, you really don’t want to calculate that much info.

notsureifsrs
4 years 2 months ago

never fear for i am a master sabermetrologicisist and your Alcohol Independent Thinking numbers are solid

notsureifsrs
4 years 2 months ago

“A 3.50 ERA is what Chen has provided”

missing the point of FIP. a 3.50 is what the team has provided while he pitched

YanksFanSince78
4 years 2 months ago

I know exactly what FIP is. However, in terms of the results, that’s what Chen has done. Use FIP to project HOW good a guy really is but for this excercise I don’t see the need to use ERA vs FIP to judge wether or not someone has helped their team.

notsureifsrs
4 years 2 months ago

no, it isn’t just what chen has done. ERA tells you what chen has done and what his defense, ballparks, umpires, etc etc etc all have done

FIP was created to get around this problem. it happens to be a better predictor of future ERA than ERA, and that’s awesome. but it’s also useful because it is a mile more precise than ERA. ERA does not say what you are saying it says

MikeKC
4 years 2 months ago

He’s been better than Francis this year. Maybe this is a case where the sabermetrics is outsmarting themselves.

Justanotherfantoo
4 years 2 months ago

Based on his stats, I’m at a complete loss to figure out how Melky Cabrera could possibly have been worth $2.8 million through May 7th. Mediocre hitting, terrible fielding, performing best when margin is four runs or more and no one is on base. Are you kidding me?!

I can only think of three possibilities: (1) Melky has a relative who calculates this stuff. (2) Melky is blackmailing him or paying him. (3) The guy who calculates WARs has been drinking too much.

No way has Melky been worth $2.8 million. That’s ridiculous. Not even close…

4 years 2 months ago

Melky continues to bring out the love in yet another fan base.

AmericanMovieFan
4 years 2 months ago

Melky is just one of those players who gets a bad wrap no matter how decently he performs. There are players where their popularity or lack of popularity clouds their true stats. It’s a startling phenomenon.

Justanotherfantoo
4 years 2 months ago

AmericanMovieFan, I’m not saying you’re wrong. But if he’s worth $2.8 million for what he’s contributed so far this year (with Kansas City having played 32 games) , I assume that implies that he would be worth $14 million if he kept it up for the entire year.

Would you help me understand what in his statistics, offensively or defensively, would make him remotely worth that much? Put another way, what about his current level of contribution would lead you as the general manager of a MLB team to pay him $14 million and feel like you were getting your money’s worth?

I don’t dislike Melky. In fact, with the right guidance, I think he could develop into a very good player. I just don’t understand what he’s done so far this year that would make him worth remotely that much. In all sincerity, any insight you could provide me in that regard would be most appreciated.

vtadave
4 years 2 months ago

Wow – did Melky go Fatal Attraction on your dog?

Justanotherfantoo
4 years 2 months ago

vtadave, If you were a GM, you’d be comfortable paying Melky $14 million and feel like you were getting your money’s worth if he sustained his current level of play?

If so, why? What has he done with his bat or his glove so far this year that would make you feel that way? For $14 million, you get an outfielder that FanGraphs says is awful in centerfield and hurts your team with his glove, who has mediocre overall hitting stats, and who wilts in close games and with men on base and runners in scoring position? What exactly are you getting for your $14 million?

I honestly don’t understand what he’s done this year that in any way justifies that level of pay/value. What am I missing? Educate me, please.

JD
4 years 2 months ago

I have no idea why you think Jeff Francis has a “few good starts left in him”

That WAR is going down from where it’s at now, way way down.

notsureifsrs
4 years 2 months ago

yea, i was hoping the post would mention the fact that some players on this list who are already worth their salary could very well not be worth it by the end of the year

vtadave
4 years 2 months ago

Ned Colletti –

Tender James Loney a contract worth close to $5 million.

Non-tender Russell Martin and sign Dioner Navarro.

Priceless.

quintjs
4 years 2 months ago

I think more than any other player in recent memory, there is NO WAY Martin produces at this level if he stayed with the Dodgers.

That being said, plenty of suspect moves, including Tendering Loney a contract.

YanksFanSince78
4 years 2 months ago

Not sure why you say that. His away numbers are better than his home so he’s not benefiting from the “NYS factor” ppl are obsessed with.

.250/.304/.423 w/ 2 hrs @ home
.314/.478/.714 w/4hrs on the road

I might even give credence to the “better lineup” factor but Martin is usually batting 8th and 9th (89/102 PA) with either Gardner, Jeter or someone other than Posada, Grandy, Tex, Cano, Swisher or Arod hitting behind him.

As for Loney, hindsight is 20/20 and while Loney doesn’t have the power that most 1b have, he’s not exactly a bad player. He IS off to a bad start but so are many other better players.

Who would they’ve signed to replace Loney? Lee ($7.2 mil), Berkman ($8 mil) or Pena ($10 mil)? To Colletti’s defense can anyone say they would’ve expected Loney to get off to such a bad start?

notsureifsrs
4 years 2 months ago

“while Loney doesn’t have the power that most 1b have, he’s not exactly a bad player.”

dunno what your definition of “bad player” is, but save for 2007, james loney has been a below average major leaguer for his entire career

YanksFanSince78
4 years 2 months ago

Below avg mlb hitter? Really? While hrs and a high obp might be the two best things a hitter can provide I think that Loney’s contact ability and ability to drive in runs is undervalued by Dodger fans. Are there better options for 1B? Yes. Has COlletti shown the desire to spend on one? No. That being said, why non-tender a guy who you can usually count on for 160 hits, hits 50 of which are usually for extra bases, a passable .340 obp and a league average batting avg?

notsureifsrs
4 years 2 months ago

you keep asking that. every time the answer is going to be”because he only plays first base and that kind of production from first base sucks”

5_tool_MiLB_fool
4 years 2 months ago

like as if he had the ability to predict 2011 performances at the time

oh not to mention only a month into the season

Devern Hansack
4 years 2 months ago

It should have been obvious by now that Loney is rubbish. Just saying.

vtadave
4 years 2 months ago

You couldn’t predict that Loney would be a far below average first baseman?

5_tool_MiLB_fool
4 years 2 months ago

i was ignoring that part i meant the whole russel martin and dioner navarro because many people thought martin would be crap too and for good reason. but yeah loney has always been trash

vtadave
4 years 2 months ago

It’s a good point, as we’ll never know how a healthy Martin would have done in LA this year. Still, isn’t it the GM’s job to try and predict this stuff?

YanksFanSince78
4 years 2 months ago

3 year avg- 164 hits, 35 dbls, 11 hrs, 90 RBI (shows he can drive in runs on THIS team) is not exactly someone you toss away simply because his OBP has hovered around .340 for the past 3 seasons. Defensively, he’s slightly below avg but he’s not a butcher out there.

As long as the Dodgers are unwilling to spend money on a more suitable 1b (one who would require a multi year deal) then why get rid of Loney?

notsureifsrs
4 years 2 months ago

because he sucks. the numbers you cited are not good numbers. his wRC+ since ’08 is 99. yes, below league average – for all positions. he has been and continues to be the worst-hitting 1B in baseball. there is no “what would they do without him” scare scenario. he isn’t valuable

TimotheusATL
4 years 2 months ago

I guess Fangraphs doesn’t adjust Yankees players’ salaries for inflation.

757690
4 years 2 months ago

Beyond stupid. Based on a complete misunderstandig of WAR.

Many of these players will give back much of the “production” they have given their teams so far. For example, Berkman, even if he continues to hit this well, will over the course of the year produce a much bigger -UZR on defense. Given that he will probably cool off offensively, he’ll be luck to be worth a positive overall WAR at the end of the season, due to his horrific defense in RF.

I’m really starting to want to quit coming to MLBTR if it keeps posting crap like this.

YanksFanSince78
4 years 2 months ago

You are misunderstanding everything about the post. No one is saying or projecting that they will continue to perform at thiis level but rather,simply taking a look at who has performed past their pay thus far.

757690
4 years 2 months ago

Only some of these players, like Berkman really haven’t performed past their pay yet. Because it’s so early, his -9.6 UZR/150 (which will get even worse after his butcher play that allowed three runs today) isn’t accurately accounted for in his current WAR. So even if Berkman continues on his same pace both offensively and defensively, his WAR will likely go down not up.

YanksFanSince78
4 years 2 months ago

As bad as his defense is his offense is spectacular and that accounts for why he’s on the list.

4 years 2 months ago

That “butcher play” was a tough over the shoulder play at the wall. It’s not like he dropped an easy catch.

4 years 2 months ago

Horrific defense? He’s made one error in 255.1 innings in right field. He’s also made several good catches (not great just good). He’s shown good instincts for catching fly balls and route running. He’s proven to be a healthy and solid outfielder.

757690
4 years 2 months ago

A -9.6 UZR/150 is pretty horrific, and I’ve seen him misplay quite a few balls hit to him that technically weren’t errors.

4 years 2 months ago

Threatening to not come here and post your opinions….oh no, what shall we do?

FrankTheFunkasaurusRex
4 years 2 months ago

uhhh good post

4 years 2 months ago

I am starting to think a lot of this WAR and FIP and how someone comes up with someones value is really just subjective and sometimes pretty funny.
I mean if you look at Berkman he is leading or very close to leading in a lot of offensive catagories and his value is only $9.6 million?? I wonder what the highest value of a player is and where they are in offensive catagories… I think someone is just being subjective…LOL

4 years 2 months ago

Whatever you just said, it made no sense. How is that at all subjective? They use average salary, which puts $5 million (about) for every WAR. WAR is based off of wOBA, which is based off of historical data, and is also subjective. You’re post was totally naive… and you ended it with …”LOL” which makes you look like a 13 year old.

AllynC
4 years 2 months ago

Fred Garcia should be added to the list

YanksFanSince78
4 years 2 months ago

Aside from the cost controlled guys with less than 3 years like Freeman, Davis, Sanchez, Miranda and Wallace, Loney is earning the least amount of money of all NL 1b @ $4.8 mil. Again, I would argue that unless you have some in the minors ready to step in, Loney isn’t a bad choice.

RedCaps
4 years 2 months ago

If I’m not mistaken you need three years of data to determine someone’s true defensive ability, but I don’t think it’s inaccurate to use UZR before to say “Player Y hasn’t been good defensively thus far”.