2018 Top 50 Free Agents

Welcome to FanGraphs’ top-50 free-agent rankings. I’ve been doing this exercise for a few years, and last year, we combined my projected salaries and rankings with the results of our contract crowdsourcing series. We’re doing that again this year, presenting you both the average and median estimated salaries provided by our readers alongside my own guesses at what these guys will sign for.

Keep in mind that the crowdsourced values are generally a good bit lower than what players actually receive, because the player generally goes 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; in particular, I think a bit more will be spent on the guys perceived as the best few free agents and less will be spent on the role-player types at the bottom of the list.

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 roughly 20 solid players in this class, and then there are just a whole bunch of flawed role players with roughly equal value overall. There are even some guys who didn’t make this top 50 whom 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 personal 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 you can get a sense for who I think might be a good value or a stay-away-at-all-costs guy by how their ranking compares to the expected contract.

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

1. Yu Darvish, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 6 $28.0 M $168.0 M
Median Crowdsource 5 $25.0 M $125.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 5.4 $24.0 M $130.7 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
31 179.0 7.6% 27.2% 42.1% 3.81 3.69 3.70 3.7 3.4

Stephen Strasburg set the contract benchmark for a pitcher with Tommy John surgery on his resume, and you can bet Strasburg’s name will be invoked pretty heavily as a comparison in negotiations. In the end, I think Darvish will end up just a bit shy of Strasburg’s TJ record, mostly given the differences in age. Darvish is a very good pitcher, but as a 31-year-old who has thrown more than 200 innings in just one of his five Major League seasons, he might have a hard time convincing teams that he’ll provide a large enough quantity of innings to justify pushing $200 million. Those World Series starts didn’t help either, though I think the crowd’s estimates are unreasonably low for one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 6 $26.0 M $156.0 M
Median Crowdsource 5 $22.0 M $110.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4.9 $21.2 M $103.3 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
30 630 9.7% 27.4% .276 .349 .542 .370 129 21.0 -15.4 2.7

I’ll give Scott Boras this: J.D. Kong is a great nickname. And despite Steamer’s fairly pessimistic projection, Martinez is a pretty fantastic player, even with his defensive deficiencies. The market for power bats hasn’t been great the last few years, but I think Martinez should do just fine this winter, given how many teams with money to spend are looking to overhaul their offense. I understand why the crowd thinks five years is a better bet, but given that Martinez may well sign with a luxury-tax payor, there’s an incentive to go a bit longer in years to get the AAV lower, since that’s the number with which the tax is calculated.

3. Jake Arrieta, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $24.0 M $96.0 M
Median Crowdsource 5 $22.0 M $110.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4.6 $22.2 M $102.5 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
32 177.0 7.7% 20.8% 47.6% 4.20 4.10 4.17 2.8 2.5

Speaking of pessimistic Steamer forecasts, the model is clearly not a fan of Arrieta’s regression over the last few years and looks at him more as a solid innings-eater than any kind of ace. But Arrieta is a legitimate weak-contact guy, so he’s a good bet to outperform his peripherals, and I think the contract could be short enough that it’s a worthwhile risk. He’s one of the few cases at the top of the list where I think he may get less than the crowd expects, as I think the move towards reliever-heavy postseason usage will drive down prices for starting pitchers. Moreover, Arrieta might choose a higher per-season salary over a longer-term deal at a lower AAV.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $18.0 M $72.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $15.0 M $45.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.5 $15.6 M $54.7 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 651 15.2% 15.3% .261 .377 .479 .366 127 21.0 -10.6 3.2

I’m with Travis: Carlos Santana is the best free-agent first baseman available this winter. He doesn’t offer the allure of a high-end franchise player, but few players in baseball are steadier, more reliable contributors than Santana. In a market flooded with high-risk options, Santana is the safe above-average guy, a player with a skillset that should allow him to produce for the next few years and top-of-the-scale durability. He’s not an upside play, but there isn’t a safer investment in this free-agent class, and I’ll take his higher likelihood of being a good player over the risk of trying to sign a “star” and ending up with a bust.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 6 $21.0 M $126.0 M
Median Crowdsource 5 $19.0 M $95.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 5.5 $19.1 M $104.4 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
28 651 9.8% 17.9% .289 .359 .482 .357 121 16.0 -10.7 2.7

The most inconsistent player in baseball, Hosmer has recorded three seasons of three or more wins and three seasons of replacement-level production (or worse). A good-not-great hitter with a defensive track record that doesn’t match the reputation — and after 9,000 innings, it’s tough to argue that UZR and DRS are completely worthless indicators here — Hosmer projects as a decent enough regular but not anything close to the star he’s sometimes portrayed as. That said, he’s young enough and coming off the best season of his career, and his batted-ball numbers have always suggested there’s more upside than his performances would suggest, so someone is going to pay for the potential. I just wouldn’t want to be the one who signs that check.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $17.0 M $68.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $17.0 M $68.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4.2 $17.6 M $73.2 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 595 7.5% 17.8% .287 .346 .435 .336 107 5.5 6.3 3.2

A healthy Lorenzo Cain is almost certainly the best available position player this winter, but Cain’s health track record and the speed-based nature of so much of his value make him even riskier than his former teammate. Coming off a year during which he played 155 games at a high level, even with his defense somewhat eroding, he’s still worth pursuing, and I’d definitely take him for the contract both the crowd and myself estimate. I’d probably even push up towards $80 or $90 million if need be, especially if I had a short-term opportunity to win and a big need in center field.

7. Wade Davis, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $17.0 M $68.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $15.0 M $60.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.6 $14.6 M $53.1 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
32 65.0 9.5% 27.5% 43.8% 3.48 3.57 3.80 1.1 1.3

The move towards higher valuations for relievers isn’t going away, and the last few postseasons have made it clear that teams are paying relievers just as much for what they mean in October as during the regular season. Davis remains an elite reliever and will be paid accordingly, though his more recent history of arm problems will probably mean he doesn’t quite get to Jansen/Chapman territory. He probably won’t be worth $17 million in the regular season next year, but if his new team makes the playoffs, that’s when the team will expect to get a return on their investment.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 5 $19.0 M $95.0 M
Median Crowdsource 5 $17.0 M $85.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4.8 $16.8 M $80.7 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
29 560 7.3% 15.9% .265 .325 .495 .343 112 6.3 1.9 2.7

A few years ago, Moustakas probably would have gotten dramatically overpaid based on the home runs, but in today’s everyone-hits-20-bombs environment, Moustakas will probably only be mildly overpaid instead. Despite being an infield-fly machine, he remains a useful third baseman on the right side of 30, and $19 million a year is roughly what useful big-league regulars cost these days.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $13.0 M $39.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $15.0 M $60.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.6 $14.7 M $52.6 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 595 8.8% 15.6% .256 .326 .426 .322 98 -2.1 9.7 2.7

The player on whom the crowd and I most significantly disagree, Cozart’s breakout season this year looks like Exhibit A for the “juiced ball” theory, and I remain skeptical that major-league teams are going to pay for power that might not be sustainable if the ball changes again. The Reds’ decision not to offer Cozart a qualifying offer would prove to be a huge mistake if the crowd’s estimates are correct, but I think he’ll end up settling for an AAV below what the QO would have paid him, and his extensive injury history will limit the contract to just two or three years.

10. Alex Cobb, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 4 $15.0 M $60.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $14.0 M $56.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.6 $14.5 M $52.6 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
30 133.0 6.6% 17.7% 50.1% 4.41 4.35 4.27 1.7 1.5

Of the many high-risk pitchers in this market, Cobb is probably the best bet outside the top two. He pitched pretty well after missing most of two years following Tommy John surgery, though he didn’t miss bats like he used to. His strikeouts came back in August and September, however, and that strong finish will probably get someone — most often rumored are the Cubs — to bet on his return to prior heights. There are certainly worse bets to make in this free-agent class.

11. Neil Walker, 2B
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $11.0 M $33.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $13.0 M $39.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.8 $12.9 M $35.7 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 595 9.8% 18.0% .268 .346 .454 .341 110 7.5 -1.8 2.5

A clear health risk, Walker nevertheless remains a good hitter — and range at second base isn’t as important as it used to be, given the shifts and data-driven positioning that nearly every team employs these days. A 32-year-old with his health questions comes with plenty of downside, but the guy has been an above-average big leaguer every year of his career. At what is expected to be a moderate price, I’d definitely be buying.

12. CC Sabathia, LHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $15.0 M $30.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $13.0 M $26.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.7 $13.1 M $22.3 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
37 138.0 8.0% 19.5% 48.9% 4.37 4.40 4.30 1.7 1.6

The big man has reinvented himself as a weak-contact strike-thrower and showed he still has plenty left in the tank in the postseason. His age will limit the contract length, of course, and there’s not much upside left, but if you just need a reliable starter to fill a rotation spot, Sabathia remains a quality pitcher.

13. Todd Frazier, 3B
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $14.0 M $42.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $14.0 M $42.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.2 $14.4 M $45.9 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 595 10.3% 22.5% .234 .321 .444 .326 100 0.1 3.2 2.3

Over the last three years, Todd Frazier has hit 109 infield flies; no one else has over 100, and Manny Machado ranks third, some 20 pop ups behind Frazier. He remains a decent player despite this significant flaw, but he’s the kind of guy who could become unplayable pretty quickly if the power declines at all. His power and defense at third still make him worth pursuing, but you want as short a deal as you can get with Frazier, because when the end comes for him, it will probably come quickly.

14. Jay Bruce, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $16.0 M $32.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $13.0 M $39.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.0 $13.6 M $40.6 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 490 8.8% 22.4% .249 .317 .474 .333 105 2.3 -7.9 1.1

A swing change helped Bruce re-establish himself as a reasonable everyday outfielder, and teams will likely believe he’s more like his 2017 self than Steamer’s projection suggests, though he’s not going to get anywhere near the floated $90 million number. I’d probably stay away on anything more than a one-year deal; the reality is that guys like Bruce are available every July (and August) for a minimal return, so there’s not a huge benefit to committing multiple years in advance.

15. Lance Lynn, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $16.0 M $48.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $15.0 M $60.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.6 $14.7 M $53.2 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
31 150.0 9.2% 19.3% 42.6% 4.67 4.73 4.82 1.3 1.4

Lynn used to strike everyone out; these days, though, his approach is more about painting the corners hoping for weak contact. That led to both fewer strikeouts and more walks in 2017. In this genre of pitcher, I prefer Sabathia, though Lynn is solid enough to be worth pursuing for a couple of years. At the four years that everyone is expecting, I’m a hard pass, and I wouldn’t even love it at the three years I’m guessing he’ll get.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $11.0 M $22.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.4 $9.2 M $22.4 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
33 65.0 7.6% 24.1% 45.0% 3.77 3.79 3.92 0.8 0.8

I’m pretty certain that Brandon Morrow will not get the second-largest contract of any free-agent reliever. Despite his long history of health problems, though, I’d take him over any non-Wade Davis reliever in this class. The quality of the stuff is obvious, the command has become excellent, and Morrow won’t come with the can-only-be-used-in-the-ninth-inning restriction. If he wants to be a closer, he can probably land a ninth-inning job, but he’s more likely more valuable to a team that can use him for more innings as a bridge, and I bet the Dodgers realize that he’s worth re-signing.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $10.0 M $30.0 M
Median Crowdsource 0.0 $0.0 M $0.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 0.0 $0.0 M $0.0 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
28 128.0 10.4% 19.3% 53.4% 4.32 4.39 4.36 1.6 1.5

The winner of the annual which-guy-did-Carson-leave-out-of-the-crowdsourcing-project award for this year, Chatwood is getting some hype as this year’s Charlie Morton. I think he’ll do better than Morton did in free agency last year, but there’s obviously a lot of risk here, both in terms of health and performance. Not every pitcher who leaves Colorado becomes an ace, and Chatwood’s walk problems aren’t entirely about his home park. But as a likely mid-priced starter with some upside, Chatwood is interesting and should appeal to a team that wants to take a shot on the hope that he could significantly improve his value in 2018.

18. Greg Holland, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $15.0 M $45.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $12.0 M $36.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.0 $12.5 M $37.1 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
32 65.0 10.4% 25.8% 43.6% 4.14 4.06 4.00 0.9 1.1

Holland was amazing for the first two months of the year, but from June 1st on, he walked 12% of the batters he faced and saw his fly balls start going over the fence. His 4.67 FIP/4.77 xFIP over those last four months should be big red flags to anyone thinking that Holland is back as an elite reliever. He can still miss bats when the slider is on; too often, though, it’s not, and I wouldn’t be rushing to give him a multi-year deal hoping that his elbow holds together while he tries to get batters to chase sliders in the dirt.

19. Addison Reed, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $10.0 M $30.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $9.0 M $27.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.1 $9.2 M $28.3 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
29 65.0 7.0% 23.5% 38.9% 4.08 4.01 4.22 0.3 0.2

Reed is the definition of a boring good reliever, who just gets outs by throwing strikes. He doesn’t throw hard for a late-inning RP these days, so he might not earn as much as his numbers would otherwise suggest, but Reed is a pretty reliable high-leverage arm and, at non-closer prices, should make a good addition to someone’s bullpen.

20. Jarrod Dyson, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $11.0 M $22.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.3 $8.8 M $19.8 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
33 455 7.7% 15.2% .261 .327 .368 .303 85 -5.9 6.9 1.6

Long pegged as a fourth outfielder, Dyson showed he was capable of holding his own in the first half, only to have his season cut short by injury after the All-Star break. The crowd thinks he’s going to get paid like a nifty backup, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone gave him another crack at a mostly full-time job; the defense is legitimately elite and the bat is okay enough to justify his presence in the lineup.

21. Eduardo Nunez, 2B/3B/SS
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $11.0 M $33.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.9 $11.2 M $32.9 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 490 4.9% 13.9% .287 .325 .439 .326 100 0.6 0.0 1.7

A utility guy who can play bad defense at every position on the field, Nunez hits enough to be worth having around for his flexibility, but if you want to win, he shouldn’t be an everyday player for you. That he ranks 21st on this list anyway should tell you most of what you need to know about where the talent drop-off occurs in this class, and why we’re about to enter the comment-length lightning round.

22. Mike Minor, LHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $9.0 M $27.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $9.0 M $27.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.8 $9.2 M $25.4 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
30 65.0 8.1% 28.0% 39.4% 3.61 3.64 3.80 0.3 0.3

Failed-starter-becomes-elite-reliever stories are easy to tell, but Minor’s red flag is that a lot of his dominance was based on home-run suppression, and he spent the year in Kansas City. If the ball finds the seats a few more times, he looks more like a guy who just got a generic move-to-the-pen bump. But a lefty who misses bats will get paid either way.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $12.0 M $12.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $11.0 M $33.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.6 $11.0 M $28.6 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 416 9.5% 14.8% .267 .342 .417 .325 100 -1.9 11.0 2.3

Eighteen months ago, I wouldn’t have expected to be ranking Lucroy behind Mike Minor in this post. Lucroy’s terrible first half in Texas was salvaged a bit by his stronger finish in Colorado, but slapping singles at altitude isn’t really how you convince teams your offense is back. He could probably get a multi-year deal at a lower AAV this winter, but I think a one-year contract to try and re-establish his value might be a better bet.

24. Bryan Shaw, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $9.0 M $27.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $7.0 M $21.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.7 $7.7 M $20.5 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
30 65.0 8.5% 24.1% 50.6% 3.58 3.62 3.71 0.9 0.9

An underrated rubber-arm, Shaw was quietly one of the best relievers in baseball last year. He now also throws a few ticks harder than he did a couple of years ago, so he has a chance to be seen as more than just an innings sponge. He might not be a truly top-tier reliever, but his durability and recent improvements make him a nice fit for a team that wants a good high-leverage arm without paying closer rates.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $12.0 M $24.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.4 $10.8 M $25.7 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
30 560 11.7% 22.4% .241 .336 .454 .335 106 3.8 -10.0 1.2

LoMo was awesome in the first half, then went back to being Logan Morrison in the second half. He’s the kind of guy a livelier ball would help the most, so if you think this is the new normal, then he might not be a bad investment, but with a lot of decent left-handed first baseman on the market, I could also see all these guys sitting around until February wondering where their contracts are.

26. Joe Smith, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $7.0 M $21.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.8 $6.5 M $11.6 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
34 65.0 7.5% 23.8% 50.6% 3.53 3.61 3.69 0.2 0.2

A side-armer who figured out how to miss bats at age 33, Smith would probably appear 10 spots higher on this list if his arm didn’t hurt mid-season and the Indians hadn’t relegated him to low-leverage work after trading for him. On performance, he might be as good as relievers who will get twice what he’ll get, but there appear to be some medical questions that could drive his price down.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $5.0 M $15.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.1 $6.9 M $14.6 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
32 65.0 7.3% 25.5% 44.0% 3.55 3.56 3.76 0.6 0.6

His strikeouts rates the last four years: 12%, 21%, 25%, 30%. Previously just a generic depth arm, Swarzak was fantastic in 2017, but a 32-year-old with a one-year track record of dominance doesn’t really call for a large investment. He’s the kind of guy to whom a rebuilding team should hand the ninth inning, hope the breakout was real, and then trade for a king’s ransom in July.

28. Jaime Garcia, LHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $12.0 M $36.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.8 $12.4 M $34.1 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
31 168.0 8.2% 18.6% 52.4% 4.27 4.30 4.22 2.2 2.1

A pretty solid back-end starter, Garcia is the kind of guy who is more valuable in the regular season than the postseason, and with more teams planning their October rosters in November, he’ll probably look like a bargain compared to his projected April-September value. But as a guy you probably don’t want starting in the playoffs and someone who might not fit as a high-leverage reliever either, he’s a tougher guy to slot into a playoff roster, and thus, I think he’ll get less than the crowd expects.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $11.0 M $22.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.4 $9.9 M $23.4 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 525 11.1% 19.1% .261 .346 .435 .334 106 2.3 -8.6 1.1

1st half ISO: .287
2nd half ISO: .166

How much do teams want to pay for a power breakout that didn’t last? He’s still a good enough overall player to sign, but the poster boy for the fly-ball revolution probably didn’t do enough to merit a monster contract. If he believes his first half is repeatable, he might be best off taking a one-year deal and seeing what his market would look like next year with a longer track record.

30. Jason Vargas, LHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.0 $10.3 M $20.2 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
35 136.0 7.2% 17.8% 41.0% 4.67 4.74 4.83 1.2 1.2

Vargas is Jaime Garcia, but older and with more fly balls. I’d happily take him in my rotation for the first six months of the year, but I don’t know what he gives you in the postseason, and that’s going to depress his market.

31. Juan Nicasio, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $6.0 M $18.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.3 $7.5 M $17.5 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
31 65.0 8.5% 25.5% 43.7% 3.75 3.79 3.92 0.6 0.6

A right-handed reliever who destroyed lefties in 2017 after getting torched by them his whole career, Nicasio could help a number of bullpens, but he’s hard enough to pin down that I don’t think anyone is going to want him as their primary setup guy. If he’s really fixed his lefty problem, he could be a relief ace, but I doubt anyone wants to bet big on a one-year platoon-split change.

32. Pat Neshek, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.7 $8.1 M $13.9 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
37 65.0 6.1% 23.7% 35.6% 4.01 4.01 4.28 0.1 0.1

Thirty-seven-year-old side-armers who throw 90 don’t get paid the big bucks, but Neshek has been getting people out for the last four years and was one of the game’s best relievers in 2017. On a short-term contract, I’d definitely take him this winter to try and avoid having to raid my farm system to upgrade my bullpen in July.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $13.0 M $13.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $11.0 M $22.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.9 $11.1 M $21.4 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 455 8.7% 23.3% .255 .321 .451 .327 101 0.0 -6.1 0.9

CarGo’s been overrated for a while, and his disastrous 2017 season probably saved some team from making a significant mistake on him this winter. He’ll probably take a one-year deal to try to put up better numbers before trying his luck in free agency again, and he feels like exactly the kind of guy Dayton Moore might sign to show that he’s not giving up after his best players leave.

34. Carlos Gomez, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $12.0 M $24.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.4 $11.9 M $28.7 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 420 7.3% 28.6% .242 .311 .411 .311 90 -4.7 1.9 1.1

The other CarGo had a decent bounce-back year of his own, but it’s still a very weird mix of skills, and he doesn’t obviously profile as any kind of player a team is accustomed to having. He can definitely still help someone as an outfield depth piece, but I probably wouldn’t start him every day.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $11.0 M $22.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.3 $10.4 M $23.6 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
31 138.0 8.6% 15.3% 47.1% 5.00 4.94 4.97 0.9 0.7

Ten years ago, Cashner probably would have gotten paid for his sparkly ERA, but no one thinks you can maintain a 74 ERA- with a 12% strikeout rate in this era. Cashner’s velocity is still there, so maybe he’ll start missing bats again someday, but I wouldn’t pay much for the most obvious fluke season of any player in this class.

36. Tony Watson, LHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 3 $6.0 M $18.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.8 $5.9 M $10.5 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
33 65.0 8.1% 20.7% 44.5% 4.18 4.29 4.42 0.0 0.0

CC Sabathia as a reliever, minus 100 pounds. He’s still useful even if he doesn’t miss many bats anymore.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.3 $8.9 M $20.2 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
29 74.0 5.8% 23.9% 47.7% 3.73 3.64 3.61 1.5 1.5

This year’s Wilson Ramos: almost certainly signs a two-year deal that gives the signing team an incentive to pay for his rehab, though if he gets back to health mid-season, he could be a big bullpen addition for someone down the stretch in 2018, too. I’ve long wondered what he might be in relief.

38. Jake McGee, LHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $8.0 M $24.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.7 $8.3 M $22.1 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
31 65.0 8.1% 25.0% 40.2% 3.84 3.90 4.11 0.1 0.1

McGee probably wishes free agency happened in July. He’d have gotten a lot as a free agent after the first three months of 2017, but a terrible second half means even the two years I’ve projected might be too generous. If anyone gives him three years guaranteed, they will likely regret it.

39. Tommy Hunter, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $5.0 M $10.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.9 $6.4 M $12.3 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
31 65.0 7.1% 23.8% 46.3% 3.71 3.70 3.83 0.2 0.1

You could win some very nerdy bar fight by making people guess that Tommy Hunter was secretly awesome in 2017. Sometimes the guys the Rays fix don’t stay fixed, but I’d happily throw $5-6 million at Hunter on the hopes that he now knows how to miss bats.

40. Steve Cishek, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $5.0 M $10.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.9 $6.3 M $12.0 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
32 65.0 9.1% 22.1% 46.2% 4.12 4.15 4.27 0.1 0.0

Speaking of guys the Rays fixed, Cishek’s track record is too up-and-down to count on, but he was fantastic after getting traded to Tampa Bay and looks like a decent Plan B for whoever wants Joe Smith but doesn’t get him.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.5 $10.0 M $24.7 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
30 0.0 9.0% 18.4% 47.0% 0.00 3.16 4.67 0.0 0.0

If Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas had a right-handed brother, it’d be Chacin. He’s fine: useful during the regular season, but not a guy to whom you’re going to give meaningful October innings.

42. Lucas Duda, 1B
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $10.0 M $10.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.9 $9.0 M $17.1 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
32 420 11.9% 25.8% .242 .343 .484 .348 115 7.2 -7.8 1.3

Shouldn’t play against lefties and gets hurt a lot. Tough to count on him as a regular or carry a first-base-only bench guy in the day and age of eight-man bullpens. There’s a spot for Duda in the league still, but the changes to the game are making it tougher to carry guys in this mold.

43. Alex Avila, C
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $6.0 M $6.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.2 $8.2 M $17.9 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 320 15.7% 32.6% .223 .349 .383 .323 98 -2.2 7.6 1.6

Avila is Lucas Duda but can also squat behind the plate and turn strikes into balls occasionally. A useful part-time player for a team that doesn’t buy into framing data, Avila could actually be more interesting as the strong side of a 1B or DH platoon.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.8 $8.2 M $15.0 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 350 9.9% 20.3% .252 .329 .379 .310 89 -4.4 -2.6 0.5

Carlos Gomez Lite. There’s real value in his baserunning, and his bat and glove are fine, so he’s either a very good fourth outfielder or a low-end starter. A team is probably better off if he’s in a job-share, though.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.8 $9.3 M $17.1 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
31 128.0 6.7% 15.3% 38.9% 5.34 5.34 5.25 0.3 0.2

Hellickson ran a 6.97 ERA with a .225 BABIP after getting traded to Baltimore, which I didn’t even know was possible. He’s just a year removed from a +3 WAR season, so someone will sign him thinking they can fix him, but the more likely read of his career is that he’s just not very good and 2016 was a fluke.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $5.0 M $10.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.6 $8.7 M $13.8 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
34 140 7.5% 20.1% .274 .333 .412 .322 97 -0.7 -1.7 0.2

A nice part-time player who can cover multiple positions, Kendrick is basically an older and cheaper Eduardo Nunez. And that’s still a pretty useful bench player who starts a few times per week.

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $5.0 M $10.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.1 $6.6 M $13.7 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
33 65.0 7.0% 16.4% 54.1% 4.16 4.21 4.22 0.1 0.0

Do you like ground balls? Are you willing to overpay for someone who just accumulated 29 saves and now has “proven closer” reputation? Then do I have the reliever for you!

Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.4 $9.9 M $24.2 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
31 384 7.1% 26.2% .249 .307 .426 .313 91 -5.7 10.3 1.7

I just can’t figure out who is going to be interested in a decent-bat/bad-glove catcher who turns 31 next year. I have him getting $20 million because catchers who can hit are still somewhat scarce, but if you asked me who was going to give it to him, I wouldn’t have an answer for you.

49. Doug Fister, RHP
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $9.0 M $9.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.5 $7.5 M $11.2 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
34 138.0 7.9% 18.2% 47.7% 4.52 4.51 4.51 1.5 1.4

Fister didn’t just get back to the big leagues after getting ignored last winter; he got back to being good. He should do better as a free agent this year, and could be a pretty interesting bet for a team looking to upgrade the back of their rotation. 

50. Jon Jay, OF
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Dave Cameron 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.6 $8.1 M $12.6 M
2018 Steamer Forecast
Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
33 420 7.2% 19.3% .266 .333 .360 .303 85 -8.0 -1.9 0.4

Jay keeps chugging along, putting up weirdly good numbers despite a total lack of power and defense that doesn’t look great. But he’s now ridden this weird mix of skills to +14 career WAR, and he hasn’t slowed down enough to not be worth signing again.

We hoped you liked reading 2018 Top 50 Free Agents by Dave Cameron!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

newest oldest most voted
calikid_13
Member
calikid_13

Jon Jay has always outperformed his expectations. I’ll take the over on Lynn with the numbers for his contract. This weak free agency period will allow plenty of mediocre players to get overpaid.