For position players capable of earning a Qualifying Offer, I think a likely baseline is the best way to determine if it makes sense to accept an offer. Below is the baseline assumptions I make:
The idea behind that table is that if you are an elite player, what happens to your salary if you become a fringe MLBer. After a big pay day in year 1, you might find someone willing to big hard to have you reclaim your performance level. Year 3 shows a slight reduction in hopes of a turn around. Years 4 and 5 peg said player as a fringe roster spot.
YR $ Total 1 16 16 2 10 26 3 6 32 4 2 34 5 1 35
Over the past week, I have compiled information from all players who signed contracts in the 2013 through 2015 off seasons. The information I collected was age of first season under contract, AAV, age, and a variety of performance metrics. I ran a regression to determine what aspects of a player relates to the number of years he receives as well as the annual salary. In honor of my wretched KANG acronym on Monday, I call them on Ballplayer Observation-based Renumeration Assumption System (BORAS). You are welcome.
One of the interesting aspects of the BORAS model is that while the last year prior to free agency (2015 for this class of free agents) accounts for nearly half of the eventual salary, performance three years ago (2013) accounts for about a third of the final value. In other words, two years ago (2014) is the least important year for performance consideration in how contracts have been doted out the past few seasons. That seems somewhat counter-intuitive, but quite interesting. The BORAS model for pitchers (which will be discussed later this week) follows a similar pattern, but to a much greater extent. At the moment, I cannot seem to figure out a decent hypothesis to explain why second year prior performance is correlates less to AAV than first or third.
Anyway, I am using this model to gain a more objective standard for expected salary for free agents. The system this year expects an increase in cost per WAR of about 6%. Still, some of the values appear a bit low. This can be do to injury plagued seasons that may not impact salary greatly or maybe that the edges of the model do not adequately predict how highly desirable players may well be overpaid.
Below is a list of player with Qualifying Offers and what the BORAS(po) projects.
Based on those numbers, those all seem like no brainers except for Matt Wieters. However, Wieters' last two years have been derailed by an arm injury that does not appear to be a long term concern given his performance last year (albeit never on consecutive days behind the plate). Wieters is also the only catcher this offseason who is a free agent and projects as a starting catcher. He will find a reasonable payday from someone.
Age Yrs AAV Total Chris Davis 30 5 20.8 104 Ian Desmond 30 3 14.5 43.5 Dexter Fowler 30 3 12.1 36.3 Alex Gordon 32 4 17.2 68.8 Jason Heyward 26 7 22 154 Howie Kendrick 32 3 13.4 40.2 Daniel Murphy 31 3 11.7 35.1 Colby Rasmus 29 4 15 60 Justin Upton 28 5 16.5 82.5 Matt Wieters 30 2 8.5 17
What is also interesting to note is that the projection model did not find a single player who should have received a QO, but did not. Denard Span came close with a projected deal of 2/23.8, which makes sense due to a lot of talk surrounding him about whether he will or will not receive an offer.
Regardless, all of the QOs make sense and there does not appear to be any misses either. Below is a list of some of the more interesting free agents on the market. Feel free to ask me for numbers on any other players in the comment section and I shall abide.
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