2017 Top 50 Free Agents

Free agency is here. As you’re well aware by now, it’s not a particularly great crop this year, but there are still some solid players out there to be signed, and some interesting high-risk bets to be made by teams that don’t mind a little (or a lot of) uncertainty. To help you get a sense of what we feel the market might look like this winter, we’ve decided to present the results of the Contract Crowdsourcing project along with my predicted contract values in one big list. We’ve previously done these in separate posts, but this year, we thought it made more sense to collect all the information in one place.

In terms of the numbers, keep in mind that the crowdsourced values are generally a good bit lower than what players actually sign for, because the player signs, most often, with the highest bidder, while the crowdsourced results are an average of what our readers think a player should get. My guesses are generally a bit higher than the crowd’s estimate, though that isn’t true for every player. It’s also worth noting that opt-outs are still likely to be a thing this winter, and they’re basically impossible to price into a series like this, so we didn’t really try. You might see guys sign for less than expected, but with an opt-out, which they’re accepting as part of the value of the deal.

Oh, and before we get to the list, I’d like to suggest that you not get too worked up over the ordinal rank of players, especially outside the top 20. There are ~15 to 20 solid players in this class, and then there are just a whole bunch of flawed role players who could be seen as not too different from one another. There are even some guys who didn’t make this top 50 that you could argue are as valuable some of the guys in the 30-50 range. The difference between players on the back half of the list is pretty small, for the most part, so if you think a guy should be No. 29 instead of No. 42, you’re not going to get much argument from me.

Also, the actual rankings themselves reflect my preference; they aren’t sorted by expected contract, either my guess or the crowd’s. There are some players who are going to get paid a lot more or less than their placement on this list indicates, and we’ll cover them in more detail next week when we look at the potential bargains and landmines this class offers.

With all that said, let’s get to the list.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 5 $24.5 M $122.5 M
Avg Crowdsource 5 $24.0 M $118.4 M
Median Crowdsource 5 $25.0 M $125.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 595 7.3% 21.1% .272 .330 .494 .346 116 12.4 -2.2 3.0

A year after getting rejected by the league, Cespedes is considered by most to be the best player on the market this winter. He followed up his 2015 offensive breakout with another strong year in Queens, and while his defensive performance took a dive while playing through a quad injury, his recent power spike shouldn’t be viewed with as much skepticism as it was last year. Of course, he’s still built like a linebacker and lower-half injuries are the kinds of things you don’t want to see from a guy who relies on athleticism for a good chunk of his value. So there’s still risk here, which is why we all seem to agree that a five-year deal is the best fit here, even for the top player available.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $20.5 M $82.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4 $17.2 M $70.9 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $17.0 M $68.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 560 8.3% 17.5% .284 .353 .466 .352 120 12.6 4.5 3.6

There’s actually an interesting debate about whether Turner should be at the top of this list; the Steamer projections would make that case, at least. Turner has crushed the ball the last three years, and unlike most of the other offensive assets on the market this winter, he can still play a real position fairly well. Knee problems and age bring up the question of how long he’ll maintain his defensive value, and as a 32-year-old, Turner doesn’t offer a ton of long-term value. But if you just wanted one player from this class to make your team better in 2017? This might be your guy. Given that he may cost a good bit less than the other premium position players, Turner could end up being a very nice free-agent investment.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 6 $17.5 M $105.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 5 $17.7 M $83.1 M
Median Crowdsource 5 $18.0 M $90.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
29 65.0 10.0% 38.7% 42.0% 2.28 2.32 2.60 2.2 2.4

There isn’t much of a secret when it comes to Chapman. Whoever gives him the largest contract for a reliever in baseball history will get the hardest fastball in the game, and some likely dominance as long as that remains true. What Chapman might be if the insane velocity ever goes away is an open question, but you generally don’t sign relievers looking for long-term value anyway, and so Chapman is likely to break a record in exchange for shoring up a team’s current bullpen weakness. The fact that he was traded midseason means the signing team won’t have to offer up a draft pick to sign him, either, which should help him land a deal in the $100 million range, setting a new benchmark for relief-pitcher valuation in the process.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $21.0 M $84.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4 $21.4 M $90.4 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $22.0 M $88.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
34 630 12.2% 18.7% .256 .351 .493 .360 125 18.0 -15.8 2.4

Encarnacion is one of the players I actually think could get less than what the crowd expects, mostly due to the fact that I can’t see NL teams getting into the bidding on a four-year deal. And this is actually a pretty crowded DH market, so if Encarnacion’s representatives overplay their hand, they might end up with fewer suitors than they expect. He’s certainly still a valuable player that teams would love to have in their lineup, but are teams really going to push $90 million for a 34-year-old bat-only guy who is easily shifted against? If the power goes from great to good, the overall package diminishes in a hurry. I’d happily take Encarnacion for 2017, but the 2018-2020 part of the contract could be pretty ugly.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $25.0 M $75.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $19.8 M $65.3 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $20.0 M $60.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
36 595 15.4% 18.4% .250 .371 .474 .364 128 18.4 -10.7 2.8

The other Jays slugger to hit the open market, Bautista isn’t likely to get the kind of payday for which he was looking for back in the spring. A down year offensively at age 35 is always a concern, but perhaps more of an issue is that by season’s end, he couldn’t really throw anymore. His arm allowed him to be an asset in right field for years, but with lingering shoulder problems, Bautista might be a first baseman or a designated hitter going forward, limiting his value to what he can do at the plate. With health and positional concerns, I’d expect a short-term deal at a higher salary rather than a long commitment.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 5 $17.0 M $85.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 5 $16.9 M $77.1 M
Median Crowdsource 5 $16.0 M $80.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
29 65.0 6.8% 34.9% 35.2% 2.68 2.54 2.94 2.3 2.1

The other super-relief-ace on the market, one could argue that Jansen is nearly Chapman’s equal on the field, and he definitely doesn’t come with Chapman’s baggage off the field. So why do I think he’ll get $20 million less? Well, some of that is the fact that he’s stuck with a Qualifying Offer, so the signing team will have to account for the draft-pick tax they’ll pay in addition to his salary. But there’s also some additional performance risk, based on the fact that Jansen’s success comes from throwing just one pitch over and over. He’s entirely reliant on his cut fastball, and it’s not clear what he would be if that pitch loses a little bit of effectiveness, since he doesn’t really throw anything else. More likely, that’s a longer-term issue, but I do think teams will pay a little less for Jansen because of the one-pitch approach.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $17.5 M $70.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4 $15.9 M $61.6 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $16.0 M $64.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 630 13.2% 22.3% .254 .360 .396 .333 107 7.5 -7.3 2.1

A year ago, I included Fowler in my Free Agent Landmines, and major-league teams also shied away from paying him his asking price plus paying the draft-pick tax, forcing him back to Chicago on a one-year deal. That worked out pretty well for Fowler, as he won a World Series and answered one of the biggest questions surrounding his value by changing his initial position and improving his defensive performance. Now, buyers can look at Fowler as a good-hitting legitimate center fielder, and that should land him the contract he was looking for last winter.

8. Rich Hill, LHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $24.0 M $48.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $17.6 M $47.6 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $17.0 M $51.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
37 138.0 9.1% 26.3% 45.1% 3.36 3.50 3.74 2.9 3.1

No one knew what to do with Rich Hill last year, coming off four crazy great starts in September but with no track record of success. Now, he’s added 23 more terrific starts to his resume, but he’s still a pretty big lottery ticket. Hill will turn 37 next year, so even if he had a long career as a healthy workhorse, we’d think there were health concerns, but Hill has spent most of the last decade on and off the DL, so any potential buyer has to consider how much they’ll pay for a completely unknown number of innings during the duration of his next contract. But the upside is obviously tantalizing, and teams with cash to spend in the short term should be looking at Hill as the kind of high-upside play that could make a huge impact without putting their organization at risk long term. Roughly $50 million feels like the right price for this kind of risk/reward proposition; the question will be whether it gets spread over two years or three.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $18.0 M $54.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4 $14.3 M $50.5 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $14.0 M $56.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 560 8.8% 18.4% .270 .341 .451 .339 111 7.5 -2.3 2.4

“Season-ending back surgery” is never what you want to have headed into free agency, which makes Walker another high-risk option for a team willing to bet on talent and gamble with health. If Walker can return at full strength for 2017, he’s one of the best position players on the market, and worth significantly more than what both myself and the crowd is estimating. Given what $50-$60 million buys in free agency these days, Walker could be a huge bargain. But… back surgery. It’s not a minor procedure, and it can wreck a player’s career even if he can get back on the field. The health issues and the Qualifying Offer should keep Walker’s price down, and whether the contract is worth it will depend almost entirely on how healthy Walker is next year.

10. Mark Melancon, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $15.0 M $60.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4 $13.6 M $47.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $14.0 M $42.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
32 65.0 6.0% 22.6% 53.0% 3.22 3.23 3.40 1.0 1.0

The final relief ace on the market, Melancon is a clear No. 3 on the pecking order of bullpen arms, but should still get one of the largest contracts for a one-inning pitcher in baseball history. Like Jansen, Melancon dominates with a lot of cutters, but he dominates with ground balls and weak contact instead of strikeouts, and teams will pay less for that kind of dominance, since it has more room to go wrong. Still, a strike-thrower who doesn’t get squared-up very often is a great thing to have, and while he might not be the most highly coveted arm out there this winter, Melancon will do just fine for himself.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $16.5 M $66.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4 $14.6 M $54.1 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $15.0 M $60.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
30 191.0 6.4% 18.1% 41.8% 4.39 4.43 4.51 2.1 1.9

Going to make these blurbs a bit shorter for the guys outside the top 10; apologies to those who really wanted more Jeremy Hellickson content. Hellickson is a perfectly acceptable league-average innings eater, sort of this year’s Mike Leake, but without as much ability to help himself at the plate. So I think he’ll get Mike Leake’s deal, minus a year, basically.

12. Ivan Nova, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $14.0 M $56.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $12.8 M $42.8 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $12.0 M $36.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
30 165.0 5.9% 18.0% 50.7% 4.10 4.03 4.04 2.3 2.1

Do you want all of Rich Hill’s uncertainty without Rich Hill’s dominance, only in a younger package? Then Ivan Nova is your guy. His rejuvenation in Pittsburgh is going to land him a nice contract from someone willing to speculate, and in a year, it’s either going to look like genius or foolishness, with the in-between options looking less likely.

13. Ian Desmond, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $17.0 M $51.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4 $15.9 M $62.7 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $16.0 M $64.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 630 7.3% 26.8% .250 .310 .413 .311 92 -4.6 -1.4 1.5

Projection systems still struggle with position switches, so Desmond is probably worth a bit more than this, as he showed he could handle the outfield transition fairly well. But the bat went away in the second half again, and the offensive consistency limits what kind of deal teams will be willing to put out there for a guy who is so up and down at the plate.

14. Carlos Gomez, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $10.0 M $30.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $11.3 M $20.3 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $11.0 M $22.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 630 7.2% 25.5% .247 .312 .403 .309 91 -5.7 5.0 2.0

Speaking of up and down, Gomez sank his free-agent stock by playing so poorly in Houston that he got DFA’d midseason, but a nice comeback with Texas and his longer track record should put him in line for a multi-year deal. It won’t be for the kind of money he could have gotten 12 months ago, but Gomez still has the skills to be a solid contributor, and the miserable 2016 might even make him a target for bargain shoppers.

15. Josh Reddick, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $15.0 M $45.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4 $13.7 M $49.3 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $14.0 M $56.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
30 525 9.0% 13.9% .271 .337 .451 .337 109 7.3 -3.4 2.2

Another solid player coming off a down year, still looks like an average-ish hitter and fielder, and compared to the rest of this free-agent class, he’s still kinda young, since he’ll only be 30 next year. There’s no superstar upside here or anything, but for someone wanting a solid everyday player at a reasonable price, and without draft-pick compensation, Reddick could be a nice addition.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $14.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $11.9 M $20.5 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $12.0 M $24.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
37 518 10.1% 18.0% .274 .358 .465 .353 121 10.9 -10.7 1.8

Spoiler alert for my bargains post! I think Holliday is being wildly undersold. His downturn in offense is almost entirely BABIP-driven, and while he’s going to have to transition to 1B/DH, he’s not that much worse of a hitter than the expensive guys at the top of the list. For a team looking for a good right-handed bat on a short-term commitment, Holliday could be a steal.

17. Mark Trumbo, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $16.5 M $66.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4 $16.1 M $59.2 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $16.0 M $64.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 595 7.7% 25.1% .254 .314 .480 .337 109 5.3 -13.6 1.2

Spoiler alert for the landmines post! Trumbo is probably going to get paid like he’s one of the best players on the market — 47 homers will do that for you — but he looks like a classic overpay candidate. Even with the home runs, Trumbo’s an average player due to the low OBP and lack of defensive value, and as a guy who will be 31 next year, the homers aren’t even sure to last that much longer. Toss in the draft-pick tax and Trumbo will either be a huge overpay or he’ll be this year’s Fowler/Desmond, sitting on the market until spring training after the league just rejects the proposition of paying anything close to his asking price.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $13.0 M $26.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $11.5 M $29.4 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $12.0 M $35.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
33 167.0 8.7% 18.2% 49.0% 4.36 4.30 4.40 1.9 1.6

Volquez is a prototypical No. 5 starter, a guy who is good enough to make 30 starts but bad enough that you wish you didn’t have to watch him pitch 30 times. After two years stranding enough runners to run a low ERA, regression finally caught up with him in 2016, and that will probably limit Volquez’s suitors. But with few other options to just throw 175 mediocre innings, Volquez should still land a decent contract.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $12.0 M $24.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1 $12.5 M $15.8 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $12.0 M $12.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
40 560 7.0% 18.1% .270 .324 .448 .329 104 0.6 -14.0 0.5

After a nice couple of seasons, Beltran is looking like a popular candidate for teams looking for a DH, but there’s some real buyer-beware here. Most notably, he’s going to be 40 next year. The walks are gone forever, so now the value is entirely tied to how many home runs he can hit. If it’s 15 or 20 instead of 30, he’s a replacement-level player who can’t play the field. He’ll get another nice paycheck from a win-now team looking for a veteran switch-hitter, but I’d be scared to be the one counting on him in 2017.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $14.0 M $28.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $12.7 M $40.3 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $12.0 M $36.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 416 7.1% 19.9% .245 .302 .407 .306 88 -7.1 12.0 1.9

We can stop waiting for the breakout that is never coming; Wieters will be 31 next year, and in catcher-aging, that puts him near the end of his career. The bat is just okay, the framing remains terrible, and I think the idea of Wieters still having upside is out the window now. He’s not useless, but any team that pays him as if he’s even a league-average catcher may end up disappointed.

21. Brett Cecil, LHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $11.0 M $33.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $7.2 M $17.3 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $7.0 M $21.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
30 65.0 8.2% 28.0% 48.6% 3.01 3.08 3.28 0.3 0.2

The second-best left-handed reliever on the market, Cecil is a sneaky buy-low for a team willing to bet on peripherals instead of ERA or saves. If I were shopping in the bullpen market this winter, Cecil would be one of my top targets, and if he goes anywhere near where the fans are projecting him, he’ll be an outright steal.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $14.0 M $28.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $11.2 M $30.3 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $11.0 M $33.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
30 455 10.9% 26.3% .243 .330 .421 .325 101 1.4 -7.7 0.9

If Ian Desmond’s consistency and Rich Hill’s durability had a baby, they’d name it Michael Saunders. It’s easy to talk yourself into the tools, but Saunders is likely to always be more tantalizing than productive. I’d probably look elsewhere, but all the teams that pass on him will regret it if he finally turns one of his hot streaks into a breakout year.

23. Mike Napoli, 1B
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $11.0 M $20.9 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
35 560 12.5% 28.8% .228 .330 .424 .326 102 -0.8 -7.7 1.0

And now we get into the Veteran Presence portion of the class. Napoli’s just an okay player at this point in his career, but teams like what he does in the clubhouse, and there’s enough life left in the bat to run him out there everyday. There’s way more downside than upside here, though.

24. Jason Hammel, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $12.0 M $24.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $12.8 M $35.6 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $12.0 M $36.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
34 155.0 6.9% 20.2% 41.3% 4.35 4.30 4.37 1.7 1.5

A consistently underrated hurler, Hammel’s elbow issues and the fact that the Cubs opted to pay him to go away instead of bringing him back when they lack rotation depth probably depress his market a bit. If he’s healthy, he’s better than several of the arms ahead of him on this list, but 34-year-olds with arm problems are risky bets indeed.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $12.0 M $24.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $11.0 M $27.1 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $11.0 M $33.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
30 152.0 8.3% 17.7% 46.7% 4.42 4.40 4.51 1.4 1.4

I’d try to sign him as a reliever, if he were willing to go back to that role. The stuff is still good, but lefties have eaten him alive the last few years, so if he were willing to go to the pen and face mostly right-handers while seeing if the velocity would spike back up, he could be pretty interesting. If he wants to keep starting, then he’ll likely continue to be an exercise in frustration.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $14.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $13.2 M $43.9 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $13.0 M $39.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
29 320 6.0% 17.7% .264 .310 .437 .319 97 -2.7 8.4 1.7

I just don’t know what is going to happen with Ramos. He’s going to start the year on the DL and might need to sign with an AL team because he’s not sure he’ll be able to catch regularly next year, but the bat only plays at DH if his 2016 was a breakout and not a fluke. It seems like he should just take a one-year, incentive-laden deal to rebuild his value, but I could also see teams offering something like what the crowd is projecting, hoping to get a bargain in years 2-4 if he proves he’s healthy.

27. Greg Holland, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1 $6.2 M $8.2 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $6.0 M $6.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
31 65.0 9.5% 27.4% 46.5% 3.15 3.27 3.55 0.2 0.2

Health lottery ticket No. 17, it feels like. If he bounces back at 100% after Tommy John surgery, he could be great. But he might not come back at all. Or he might come back as a diminished version of his former self. Or anything in between. Who knows? Throw a dart, pick a price, and hope you get lucky!

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $10.1 M $25.6 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 525 11.7% 22.2% .234 .328 .412 .321 99 -1.5 -1.4 1.5

A perpetually underrated role player, Valbuena remains close to a league-average player, and one who can fill multiple roles for a team needing infield depth. But as a guy moving more towards a corner infielder than a middle infielder, the bat isn’t quite what you want, and he’s not a great defender anywhere. He’s the kind of guy who should probably land a job with a non-contender, helping them be kind of watchable, and then get traded to a team that needs a bench bat midseason.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $11.0 M $22.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $9.7 M $17.3 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
34 560 8.2% 19.8% .265 .330 .457 .336 109 2.3 -14.0 0.7

If all he really had to do was hit, Morales would still be a useful piece, but since he then has to try and run after he makes contact, Morales remains an overrated player; his lack of ability to move at human speed renders even his one-dimension of value less worthwhile than it seems. Thirty-four-year-old designated hitters who can’t run aren’t worth much, so even these modest contract forecasts are probably overpays.

30. Brad Ziegler, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $7.0 M $21.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3 $10.4 M $29.3 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
37 65.0 8.5% 17.3% 60.2% 3.65 3.80 3.87 0.1 0.1

You want ground balls? Here’s how you get ground balls. Ziegler remains a good right-handed specialist, but the stuff is moving into Jered Weaver territory, and teams won’t be fooled by the low ERA; the .290 wOBA he allowed last year wasn’t anything special. He’s still useful, but age will likely steal what is left of his stuff soon enough, and Ziegler could go from solid bullpen depth to batting-practice pitcher overnight.

31. Sergio Romo, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $6.0 M $18.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $7.4 M $13.6 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
34 65.0 6.6% 23.0% 41.3% 3.72 3.79 3.98 0.1 0.1

Okay, now we really get into the speed round, since no one needs long-winded write-ups on these guys. Romo is an aging right-handed specialist, and a worse one than the guy just in front of him, so he’ll get less money, probably.

32. Koji Uehara, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1 $7.6 M $8.5 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
42 65.0 6.2% 27.0% 34.3% 3.39 3.46 3.79 0.2 0.2

How do you project a 42-year-old reliever who throws 87 but still racks up a ton of strikeouts? I don’t know either! The numbers say he’s still good, but I don’t know many teams that want to trust that kind of stuff in high-leverage situations.

33. Derek Holland, LHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $10.0 M $10.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $9.2 M $17.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
30 167.0 7.4% 17.6% 42.5% 4.33 4.44 4.63 1.8 1.7

The Rangers don’t have enough good pitchers, and even they didn’t want bring Holland back next year. The stuff has gone the wrong way, he doesn’t miss bats anymore, and now, he’s just trying to get by as a strike-thrower who gets enough ground balls to be a decent No. 5. He’s not the worst cheap alternative to a guy like Hellickson, but a poor man’s Jeremy Hellickson isn’t a ringing endorsement.

34. Bartolo Colon, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $10.0 M $10.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1 $11.6 M $14.7 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $11.0 M $11.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
44 162.0 4.2% 15.2% 42.2% 4.31 4.32 4.55 1.9 1.7

Remember Koji Uehara? This is that same conundrum, just as a starter. He’s been legitimately good for six straight years throwing nothing but 88 mph fastballs. Do you count on his magic lasting forever? That would be fun. But at some point, the command is going to slip, and then he’s just going to be throwing meatballs.

35. Rajai Davis, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $7.5 M $11.5 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
36 560 6.3% 20.9% .249 .302 .382 .297 82 -9.2 -6.4 0.3

The almost-hero of Game Seven, Davis’ spectacular baserunning abilities make him a terrific role player. The legs are going to slow down at some point, but in this land of outfielders you don’t want playing quite everyday, Davis is the best of the bunch.

36. Joe Blanton, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $7.0 M $13.1 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
36 65.0 7.0% 23.2% 42.7% 3.79 3.80 3.93 0.3 0.3

Got by with a .240 BABIP during the regular season, but the enduring images of Blanton’s year are those belt-high sliders getting crushed in the postseason. A 36-year-old junkballing reliever has some value as a rubber arm, but he shouldn’t be anyone’s primary setup man next year.

37. Matt Joyce, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $7.0 M $12.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 420 14.3% 23.8% .232 .349 .399 .327 103 1.6 -9.8 0.6

Joyce drew 21 walks as a pinch-hitter last year; the next closest guy had 10. Useful as a part-time platoon guy, but not sure how much teams will pay for “takes the free base when I send him up to hit in a high-leverage spot.” And memories of horrendous 2015 still remain.

38. Colby Rasmus, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $11.0 M $11.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $10.9 M $25.1 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
30 525 9.4% 29.7% .223 .299 .402 .304 87 -7.1 -1.3 0.9

At the end of April, Rasmus had a 164 wRC+. From that point on? 49. 49! 49? 49! A team building for the future can afford to give him 300 at-bats to see if there’s anything left, then trade him in July if there is, but I don’t know how a contender takes a shot on him at this point.

39. Brandon Moss, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $11.0 M $11.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $10.5 M $23.8 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
33 455 9.7% 29.4% .232 .314 .449 .325 102 0.8 -10.6 0.5

Would you like a left-handed Mike Napoli, but without the requirement that your announcers constantly utter the words “sleep apnea”? Well then you want Brandon Moss. I don’t think you want to give him two years, though.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $5.8 M $8.5 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $6.0 M $6.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
36 65.0 8.9% 23.6% 47.0% 3.63 3.74 3.91 0.5 0.5

The Giants closer had some memorable meltdowns, but just based on context-neutral numbers, you’d think he had his typical season. In 2016, batters posted a .308 wOBA against him, up all of 8 points from the .298 wOBA he allowed in 2015, and up just 10 points from his career average. A team that looks past a few high-profile failures will find a guy still capable of getting outs, though he probably shouldn’t be anyone’s best reliever.

41. Angel Pagan, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $9.2 M $16.7 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
35 490 7.0% 15.1% .269 .322 .390 .310 91 -4.6 -6.4 0.5

Can still make contact and has enough power to be useful, and isn’t a total disaster in the outfield. But any loss in contact authority makes him a bench player, and he’s not healthy enough to be a guy you can count on as a reserve, which makes him a tough fit. Another guy who should probably start for a non-contender.

42. Chase Utley, 2B
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $10.0 M $10.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1 $9.1 M $12.2 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
38 350 7.3% 18.7% .247 .314 .376 .300 85 -6.2 1.8 0.7

The Dodgers smartly bet on Utley to bounce back after a BABIP-driven down year in 2015, but they might have coaxed the last useful year out of his career. While Utley was solid in LA, his contact rate dropped to just 82%, the lowest mark of his career, and he doesn’t have enough other things left to make due if he’s striking out regularly. As a 38-year-old, Utley is probably best utilized as a part-time player going forward.

43. Doug Fister, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $9.0 M $9.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $9.6 M $19.2 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
33 158.0 6.6% 15.2% 47.5% 4.51 4.51 4.60 1.4 1.2

The good Doug Fister is probably gone forever; the current Fister is a back-end starter at best, and only if he throws more strikes than he did last year. His problems with left-handers the last few years suggest he might be more useful as a reliever at this point, but then, who wants a reliever who throws 87 and doesn’t have Koji Uehara’s splitter?

44. RA Dickey, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $9.0 M $9.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1 $8.8 M $11.6 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
42 176.0 7.9% 18.7% 44.8% 4.13 4.29 4.46 2.0 2.0

Yeah, Dickey has already signed, so you’ll have to trust that I didn’t fudge the numbers on this one to make it look like we got close. The Braves picked up a decent enough innings sponge at an innings-sponge price, and the first free agent of the year to sign should give some hope that the market isn’t going to lose its mind with every pitcher this winter.

45. Steve Pearce, 1B
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $8.9 M $17.5 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
34 420 9.3% 19.7% .261 .337 .456 .340 112 5.8 -5.0 1.5

I called Pearce a free-agent bargain last year, and he rewarded my faith with a big year in Tampa, but he ended the year on the DL, and his health is a question heading into 2017. A healthy Pearce could still be a nice player for a contender, but at 34, his body may just be breaking down.

46. Colby Lewis, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1 $7.5 M $9.8 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
37 163.0 5.9% 16.0% 36.3% 4.81 4.78 5.02 1.1 0.9

Don’t buy into the ERA; Lewis is walking the tightrope of being just good enough to get big leaguers out. When that .241 BABIP spikes, there’s not a lot left to fall back on. If you just need a strike-thrower on a one-year deal, you can bet that this won’t be the year Lewis implodes, but I don’t think I’d make that bet.

47. Jon Jay, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $7.8 M $14.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 490 6.5% 18.7% .269 .332 .361 .305 88 -7.3 -2.3 0.7

Used to not strike out, but that went away last year. Offensive surge entirely BABIP driven. No power whatsoever, he doesn’t steal bases anymore either, and he’s more of a corner outfielder than a center fielder. But other than that, he’s great!

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2 $7.4 M $10.9 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
30 385 9.9% 27.0% .249 .326 .484 .342 113 6.3 -9.6 1.0

The Orioles helped Alvarez had a decent year by never letting him face a lefty, but a DH who can only start 100 games a year and has to be pinch-hit for in any high-leverage situation isn’t that valuable. In this day and age of short benches, a team has to have a couple good super-utility guys to run a DH platoon, so Alvarez probably won’t cost that much even coming off some decent numbers.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1 $6.0 M $7.3 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $6.0 M $6.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
36 65.0 7.4% 20.4% 40.6% 4.07 4.11 4.43 0.0 0.0

Without his old strikeout rate, Papelbon has to pound the zone to survive, but he couldn’t manage to do that regularly enough in 2016, and ended up out of the league in the second half of the year. He’s probably still good enough to roster, but if he only wants to pitch high-leverage situations, then his career may be over; he’s just not good enough for that kind of role anymore.

50. Erick Aybar, SS
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $5.0 M $5.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1 $5.5 M $6.6 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $5.0 M $5.0 M
2017 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
33 490 5.7% 13.1% .262 .309 .357 .288 77 -13.8 2.1 0.4

It’s hard to believe that Aybar put up a +4 WAR season in 2014. Everything has gone the wrong way since, as he no longer steals bases, lost his contact skills, and is barely passable at shortstop as a 33-year-old. There was enough talent there before the crash that someone will bet on a bounce back, but if the 2016 version of Aybar shows up again in 2017, it will be the last we see of him as a big leaguer.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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