Cost per win rising with free agents

Twenty-three free agent signings have been noted thus far, not including minor league deals. And so far, the cost per win above replacement has risen. It was not long ago that the cost per win was around $3.9 million. At the start of last year (if memory serves me correctly), that figure had risen to about $4.6. Fangraphs.com, for example, has risen its valuation from that figure to its current $5 million per win. To date, free agents are getting paid an average of $5.29 per win.
And that makes sense since free agents are usually signed in a bidding war for services going to the victor. Well…it makes sense for the top free agents. But relief pitchers–of which Rob Neyer famously called, “fungible”–and utility infielders are getting far above the current $5 million value.
I still think a team’s strongest minor league infielder would do just as well as a utility infielder and make far less money.
To get my values, I averaged each player’s fWAR over the last three seasons. Perhaps GMs go five years, I don’t know. And then I divided the average yearly value of each contract by the three-year fWAR average to get a cost per win.
Joe Smith recently received a three year deal worth an average of $5.25 annually. His three year fWAR average is .67. Divide the $5.25 by .67 and you get $7.84 million per win, which is high. 
Nick Punto, on the other hand, got a one year deal worth $3 million and has averaged 1.37 fWAR per season the last three years which means his contract is paying $2.19 million per win. His agent should get fired.
Willie Bloomquist, as all of Twitter is attesting, just got a screaming deal from the Mariners that is worth $8.79 million per win. He either has a great agent or met a dumb GM. You decide.
Thirteen of the twenty-three free agents have been paid more than $5 million per win. The other ten are under. Interestingly, two of the recent PED signers both received less than the $5 million per win. Take that, Mr. Zeigler.
So far, according to my list, backup outfielders are underpaid, relievers are overpaid and the cost of utility infielders is all over the place. Starting pitchers are overpaid too. Phil Hughes and Tim Hudson both were given over $5 million per win contracts.
Just for my own curiosity, I will follow this and write updates once in a while. While WAR is not the be all and end all for how GMs must value free agents, it is interesting to see how each free agent makes out.

Here is my list:

Total Ave year 3 yr Cost per over/under
in millions Length in millions WAR Ave Win 5
Brian McCann 85 5 17 2.77 6.14 1.14
Jhonny Peralta 52 4 13 3.67 3.55 -1.45
Marlon Byrd 18 2 9 1.63 5.52 0.52
Ricky Nolasco 49 4 12.25 2.87 4.27 -0.73
Tim Hudson 35 2 17.5 2.37 7.38 2.38
Josh Johnson 8 1 8 1.87 4.28 -0.72
Carlos Ruiz 26 3 8.67 3.17 2.73 -2.27
Dan Haren 10 1 10.00 4.03 2.48 -2.52
Scott Kazmir 22 2 11.00 0.40 27.50 22.50
Phil Hughes 24 3 8.00 1.43 5.59 0.59
Javier Lopez 13 3 4.33 0.60 7.22 2.22
Chris Young 7.25 1 7.25 2.50 2.90 -2.10
Jason Vargas 32 4 8.00 1.50 5.33 0.33
David Murphy 12 2 6.00 1.70 3.53 -1.47
Joe Smith 15.75 3 5.25 0.67 7.84 2.84
LaTroy Hawkins 2.5 1 2.50 0.43 5.81 0.81
Dioner Navarro 8 2 4.00 0.57 7.02 2.02
Giovany Soto 3.05 1 3.05 1.17 2.61 -2.39
Skip Schumaker 5 2 2.50 0.07 35.71 30.71
Nick Punto 3 1 3.00 1.37 2.19 -2.81
Willie Bloomquist 5.8 2 2.90 0.33 8.79 3.79
Brendan Ryan 4 2 2.00 1.20 1.67 -3.33
Brayan Pena 2.275 2 1.14 0.03 37.92 32.92
442.625 53 8.35 1.58 5.29 0.29
This entry was posted in 2013 free agents, Brian McCann, Joe Smith, Phil Hughes, Tim Hudson. Bookmark the permalink.

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