Many players in the 2012 MLB free agent class will sign massive contracts this winter. Some of the players will be vastly overpaid based on their production, while others, despite their huge deals, will actually be worth every penny that they make.
Players such as Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes could all receive at least $100 million dollars over the life of their contracts. The biggest question will be if their production can justify this massive expenditure. For some players it will make sense, while other teams will be regretting the contracts that they gave out during the 2012 offseason.
Even while dealing with injuries that limited him to just 23 starts in 2011, Roy Oswalt was still worth $11.1 million last season according to Fangraphs. He has consistently had success during his career, and that should continue as long as he stays healthy.
Oswalt will get a smaller deal than the one that he just had, but he will still make over $10 million a year. With those demands, Oswalt is still worth it, because his value should exceed the amount that a team will pay him.
The biggest issue with Jose Reyes is his health. He has often struggled to play a full season as a result of a number of injuries. When he is able to stay on the field, Reyes' value is undeniable.
If a team is able to sign Reyes for under $20 million a year, they will be getting a good deal. During the years that Reyes has played a full season, he has been worth at least $22.5 million a year. He still has a number of good years ahead of him.
For as much flack as Carlos Beltran got when he was a member of the New York Mets, he was actually a very solid player. His value to the team exceeded the amount that he earned in his contract by $14 million.
Beltran's next deal will be a much smaller one, and he will still be able to produce at a high level. Whoever signs Beltran to his next contract will certainly be getting their money's worth.
Early on in his career, Grady Sizemore was a star, but his shine has begun to fade rapidly as a result of his injuries. As a result of this, Sizemore will likely be looking at a one- or two-year deal that is filled with incentives.
A healthy Sizemore was worth over $20 million a year to the Cleveland Indians, and his new deal will come nowhere close to that amount. Sizemore could be one of the best bargains on the market this winter.
Mark Buehrle has been a pillar of consistency during the past five years of his career. In four of the past five seasons, he has been worth right around $15 million a year.
This should be very closely to the amount that Buehrle is looking for a year in his next contract. He should continue to pitch at this level throughout the life of his next deal.
Since transitioning into a starting pitching role, C.J. Wilson has been outstanding. He has been amongst the best pitchers in the American League during these past two seasons.
Wilson likely cost himself millions during the 2011 postseason, and this means that his contract demands will likely be more in line with his actually value. If Wilson can keep it up, the team that signs him will feel like they got a fair deal.
Albert Pujols is undoubtedly the biggest player on the market this winter, and he could sign one of the largest contracts in MLB history. Pujols is a special, once-in-a-generation player that is deserving of a big deal.
Even if Pujols somehow manages to get $30 million a year from a team, he might actually be underpaid. According to Fangraphs, Pujols has been worth over $30 million a year five out of the past six seasons, and he was twice worth over $40 million in a season. This does not include the added merchandise revenue that he adds for a team.
There will be a number of good free-agent outfielders on the market this winter, and included in the top tier is Josh Willingham. The Oakland Athletics will try to bring him back, but a number of other teams will be after him.
Willingham could get around $10 million a year when he signs his next deal. This will be a great deal for the team that signs him, since Willingham has been worth a bit more than that during the past few years.
There are a number of outstanding free-agent shortstops on the market this winter, Alex Gonzalez is below the top flight of players. He will be a good alternative for a team that misses out on one of the big names.
Gonzalez has struggled with some inconsistency in the past, but he has proven to be a valuable player. He will not get a huge deal, and he will be worth every penny that he signs for.
Prince Fielder's inclusion on this list depends a lot on the size of the contract that he signs. If he signs to a reasonable deal, he will be worth at least what his new team paid for him. However, if the market is set by a huge Albert Pujols deal, then Fielder could be overvalued.
Fielder has had a number of good seasons with his bat, but he struggles a lot defensively. This takes away some of his value. He would actually be more valuable if an American League team signed him as a DH.