Early Free Agent Salary Projections

A few moments ago I happened to run across an article by Stan McNeal on the next free agent class. I thought I’d take a moment to project the salaries for his “Best bets for big bucks” in the upcoming offseason. I’m slowly breaking out my new marginal revenue product projection system, so this year’s performances are incorporated roughly into the projection. I may provide updates after the season is over.

1. Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals. He would have been in line for a nine-figure deal in the old economy but might have to “settle” for something closer to $80 million over four years. Holliday still has plenty in his favor: He has had a strong second half with St. Louis, he is only 29 and his agent is Scott Boras. St. Louis fans shouldn’t get too enamored with him.

Four years, $68 million ($17 million per year). I don’t know about $80 million. If he joins a good team, he might get it (my estimates assume the player is added to an average team).

2. John Lackey, SP, Angels. The big righthander, who turns 30 in October, has pitched well enough lately to cement his status as the market’s best available starting pitcher. The chances of Lackey re-upping with the Angels are no better than 50-50.

McNeal doesn’t suggest a length, so I’ll guess four years, which projects to $56 million ($14 million per year). The recent injury may scare some teams away, but it looks like he has returned to healthy form.

3. Jason Bay, OF, Red Sox. He enhanced Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein’s already considerable reputation by productively and professional succeeding Manny Ramirez. But there is little room for sentiment in Boston’s front office. Given a choice, the Red Sox would take Holliday.

I’ll go with four years again (why not?): $58 million ($14.5 per year)

4. Chone Figgins, 3B, Angels. Improved discipline has improved his on-base percentage to .400-plus and made him the game’s top leadoff hitter this season, guaranteeing him a significant raise from the $5.775 million he is making this season. A prototypical Angel, Figgins says he wants to stay. Just don’t talk bring that hometown-discount talk his way; he has heard there will be interest from the big-money teams.

Four years, $38 million ($9.5 million per year). Significant raise is a go.

5. Jason Marquis, SP, Rockies. His numbers are similar to another sinkerballer, St. Louis’ Joel Pineiro, but Marquis makes this list because he has posted his numbers at Coors Field. Marquis should get a slight bump from his current three-year, $21 million deal, but is he a $10 million a year pitcher? Don’t think so.

The most-frustrating pitcher in the world. Four years, $29 million ($7.25 million per year). Nope, not a $10-million man.

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