Now that the 2015 season is upon us and a majority of free agents have signed with their respective teams, I thought I would see by how much each team valued a win in dollars this off-season. Fangraphs usually calculates this figure each year, but I want to take it a step further and use that estimate as a benchmark for how each team valued wins in the free agency market.
Since Fangraphs did not calculate the average $/WAR this year I went ahead and used their model to determine the number myself. I won’t focus on how to calculate the average market value in this post, but you can read up on it here. Instead, we will spend a majority of the time on how each team valued wins compared to that average.
Similar to last year, a win is estimated to cost approximately $6 million. For our purposes we need an exact measure, which I determined to be $6,179,223. To calculate this, I chose to use the most basic model which just takes total contract WAR divided by the total dollars paid. For these comparisons, I did not find it necessary to account for the time value of money.
Below is a highlight table to help you visualize teams that priced out at market, and those who may have over- or under-paid for wins. I should preface by saying that I am sure a good number of teams were not using predictive WAR measures to value their free agent targets. Also, some teams only had one or two free agent hires this past off-season, which might not give us a true sense of how much those teams value wins. For instance, a team may have overpaid for their one free agent sign, but if they were to have made four or five other acquisitions, it might have brought the value back closer to market average.
*Marlins are not listed due to projected negative WAR value for their free agent signings.
The left column shows the dollar value each team placed on wins in this year’s free agent market, and the right column shows you how that compares to the market average $/WAR. I will admit I do not put much stock into this chart, mainly for the reasons I listed above. However, I do think there are couple of matters that can be addressed.
Let’s take a look at how some of the flashy off-seasons played out on our chart. The White Sox were one of the first teams to start making big splashes with signings like Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche. It turns out they were right around market price for their entire free agent haul. The Cubs made a big acquisition with Jon Lester who they slightly overpaid for — according to the market average — but came away with a steal in Jason Hammel. All in all they came in just a hair under market.
We all know the Padres and Dodgers were very active this off-season, but many of their moves came via trade. Still, they both seemed to acquire a few bargains in free agency and came in under league average. The Red Sox probably had the overall most glitzy free agent pick-ups and it appears they were also steals. Both Hanley and Panda cost below market and you can also include Justin Masterson in there if you want (I tend not to),
For each good buy this off-season there was a head scratcher. I’m looking at you Seattle. If you look at the chart you will notice that the Mariners come in near the bottom with respect to their cost estimation of a win. In large part this is due to the signing of Nelson Cruz. Based on Cruz’s forecasted WAR, his $/WAR is nearly double market value at around $11,100,000.
The Royals signed a relatively large number of free agents and like Seattle they too had some… *ahem*… interesting purchases. I don’t totally hate the Royals offseason, and I sort of get taking a chance on potential rebound seasons. However, if the team was going to shell out that kind of cash, I would have liked to see them get a little more.
I’ll end with the Phillies and not much needs said here. For the Phillies to prove this list is bogus, Aaron Harang is going to have to win the Cy Young Award, which is unlikely. However, his one-year deal doesn’t put them in any worse situation then they are already in. Philadelphia has bigger mistakes to fix.
Now take everything you just read and throw it out the window. It is a new season which means anything can happen. Some players are going to over perform and some will under perform. There will be surprise teams and and there will be busts. I suggest taking one last look at the team previews, gander at the staff predictions, grab your favorite beverage and then sit back and watch the season unfold. Baseball is back people!Next post: Braves Finally Pull the Trigger on Rebuilding, Sort of, Padres Continue to Push the Chips In
Previous post: BttP Podcast: Ep 14 – Live and Inside a Car!