Youth doesn't outweigh talent on the free-agent market, but it historically leads to plenty of over-generous commitments.
Remember how the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers got into a huge bidding war over Anibal Sanchez as he entered his age-29 season? The previous winter, the Texas Rangers spent more than $100 million on Yu Darvish—including posting fee and contract—even though he had never pitched in the United States. It helped that he was only 25 years old at the time.
James Loney, now it's your turn to reap the benefits of a late birth date. He's the only starting-caliber first baseman on the market who hasn't yet turned the big three-oh.
He just enjoyed a surprisingly productive year for the Tampa Bay Rays. Loney's .299 batting average and 118 adjusted OPS were personal bests for a full season. Although once labeled as a platoon player, the Texas native actually batted .299/.339/.390 against southpaws in 2013, which was very comparable to top overall free agent Robinson Cano.
Fearful that he might accept a $14 million qualifying offer, the Rays are highly unlikely to offer it. That means Loney can put himself on the market without fear of being tied to draft-pick compensation.
Nobody would've believed it 12 months ago, but this former first-round draft pick should receive at least $10 million per year on a multi-year deal.