MLB's 'Moneyball' Power Rankings: Who Is Overpaying/Underpaying the Most?

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2015

MLB's 'Moneyball' Power Rankings: Who Is Overpaying/Underpaying the Most?

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    The Moneyball philosophy may not have resulted in a World Series title for the Oakland Athletics yet, but it undoubtedly had an impact on the way teams are assembled throughout the league.

    Whether we're talking about a small-market team facing a payroll crunch or a large-market team with a seemingly endless payroll stream, baseball is still a business. And at the end of the day, it's all about getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to assembling an MLB roster.

    So with parity reigning and the playing field as level as ever around the league, which team is truly getting the best value out of its roster?

    The following is an in-depth attempt at answering just that.

Explanation

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    USA TODAY Sports

    There are a lot of numbers and names to digest on the pages that follow, so allow me to first offer up an explanation of what everything means.

    The following slides are broken into four sections:

    • 2015 Win-Loss and Payroll Projections

    At the top of each slide, you will find a projected win total, projected salary and then the projected cost per win (salary/win total).

    The win-loss projections come from Vegas odds released for each team, provided here via Business Insider. The payroll projections for each team are courtesy of Roster Resource.

    • Pre-Arbitration Players

    Below that is a bulleted list of key pre-arbitration players, followed by a quick list of any other players with big-league experience who fall into that category.

    This part was the first big determining factor in where each team was ranked. Considering most of the players listed here will be making somewhere between $500,000 and $600,000 during the upcoming season, these are often the biggest values on the roster.

    • Top 3 Best/Worst Values

    Next up, you'll find each team's three most and least valuable players for the upcoming season, based on the following three-step process.

    Step 1: To start with, I took each player's projected WAR for the upcoming season. My personal preference for projections is the ZiPS projections from Dan Szymborski, which can be found in spreadsheet form here. Those projections will be referenced as zWAR throughout the piece and will always refer back to the aforementioned spreadsheet.

    Step 2: Based on the FanGraphs value system, and many other outlets agree, 1.0 WAR was worth somewhere between $5-6 million in 2014. We went with the middle ground and called it $5.5 million.

    So from there, each player's projected zWAR from Step 1 was multiplied by 5.5. That gave us the player's projected 2015 value in millions of dollars.

    Step 3: Each player's salary for the 2015 season was then subtracted from his projected 2015 value, resulting in his 2015 net value.

    The three highest and three lowest totals were then highlighted on a pair of tables. Player salaries came again from the team pages of Roster Resource.

    Formula: (2015 zWAR x 5.5) - 2015 salary = net value

    It's important to note that pre-arbitration players were not considered for this section. Any player from that group who makes any sort of impact will be a bargain; that's why those players were highlighted at the beginning.

    • Notes

    Since this was such a statistic-heavy article, and there was already a lot to digest on each slide, my personal analysis was kept to a minimum. There are just a few bulleted points for each team consisting of notable observations made while compiling the article.

    If you're still reading at this point, props to you. You'll no doubt have a better understanding of what's to come in 2015.

30. New York Yankees

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 81.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $216,412,857
    Projected Cost Per Win: $2,655,372

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • RP Dellin Betances
    • SS Didi Gregorius

    Others: RP Adam Warren, RP Justin Wilson, RP Chasen Shreve, SP Chase Whitley, C Austin Romine, C J.R. Murphy

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Chase Headley 3.9$21.45 M$13.0 M+$8.45 M
    Michael Pineda 1.4$7.7 M$2.1 M+$5.6 M
    Ivan Nova1.5$8.25 M$3.3 M+$4.95 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    CC Sabathia1.1$6.05 M$23.0 M-$16.95 M
    Mark Teixeira1.3$7.15 M$23.125 M-$15.975 M
    Alex Rodriguez1.2$6.6 M$22.0 M-$15.4 M

    Notes

    • For as bad as the 2015 value outlook is for the Yankees, they do appear to be headed in the right direction. They opted against making any significant financial additions this offseason, and there is some quality young talent on the way in the minors.
    • The team spent big to add Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to the offense last winter, but only Ellsbury proved to be a worthwhile pickup. Those three make a combined $53 million in 2015, so they'll need to improve their output.
    • Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia are on the books for two more years, with Alex Rodriguez signed for three more, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
    • The ZiPS projections did take into account the injury question marks surrounding Ivan Nova (121.1 IP) and Michael Pineda (80.7 IP), as neither pitcher is expected to top the 120-inning mark. Even so, they still rank as two of the team's top three values.

29. Philadelphia Phillies

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 68.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $143,226,667
    Projected Cost Per Win: $2,090,900

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • RP Ken Giles
    • 3B Cody Asche

    Others: RP Jake Diekman, SP David Buchanan, RP Mario Hollands, RP Justin De Fratus, SS Freddy Galvis, IF Cesar Hernandez, 1B Darin Ruf, 3B Maikel Franco

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Ben Revere2.0$11.0 M$4.1 M+$6.9 M
    Carlos Ruiz2.5$13.75 M$8.5 M+$5.25 M
    Domonic Brown0.8$4.4 M$2.6 M+$1.8 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Ryan Howard-0.1$-0.55 M$25.0 M-$25.55 M
    Cliff Lee2.4$13.2 M$25.0 M-$11.8 M
    Jonathan Papelbon0.7$3.85 M$13.0 M-$9.15 M

    Notes

    • For both their lack of pre-arbitration talent and the handful of really bad contracts they're trapped under, the Phillies are easy picks for a bottom spot in these rankings. Unloading a healthy Cliff Lee this spring would certainly help.
    • If nothing else, the bullpen at least looks like a positive. Ken Giles showed closer-caliber stuff as a rookie, while Mario Hollands, Justin De Fratus and Jake Diekman all figure to be prominently featured as well.
    • Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels will make a combined $73.5 million this coming season. That's more than the entire payrolls of the Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros and Miami Marlins, three teams that will almost certainly win more games than the Phillies in 2015.

28. Detroit Tigers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 84.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $167,600,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,983,432

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 3B Nick Castellanos
    • SP Shane Greene
    • SS Jose Iglesias

    Others: CF Anthony Gose, RP Bruce Rondon, UT Andrew Romine, UT Hernan Perez, C Bryan Holaday, SP Kyle Lobstein, RP Blaine Hardy, RP Alex Wilson

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Alex Avila2.3$12.65 M$5.4 M+$7.25 M
    J.D. Martinez1.8$9.9 M$3.0 M+$6.9 M
    Yoenis Cespedes 3.1$17.05 M$10.5 M+$6.55 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Joe Nathan0.4$2.2 M$10.0 M-$7.8 M
    Justin Verlander3.8$20.9 M$28.0 M-$7.1 M
    Joakim Soria 0.4$2.2 M$7.0 M-$4.8 M

    Notes

    • Trust me, I was just as surprised as you are to see Alex Avila rank as the best value on the Tigers roster. That being said, with the 28-year-old entering a contract year, a bounce-back season offensively is not out of the question.
    • The trio of David Price, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander will make a combined $64.55 million, while sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez earn $36 million. That puts those five guys at a combined $100.55 million, or about 60 percent of the team's payroll.
    • A big step forward from Nick Castellanos in his second season and a healthy Jose Iglesias could give the Tigers one of the more valuable left sides of the infield in baseball, considering both players are pre-arbitration.

27. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 92.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $262,882,429
    Projected Cost Per Win: $2,841,972

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • CF Joc Pederson
    • C Yasmani Grandal
    • 1B/OF Scott Van Slyke

    Others: RP Pedro Baez, RP Chris Hatcher, RP Paco Rodriguez, SP Mike Bolsinger

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Yasiel Puig 5.1$28.05 M$6.214 M+$21.836 M
    Hyun-Jin Ryu 2.9$15.95 M$4.833 M+$11.117 M
    Howie Kendrick3.7$20.35 M$9.85 M+$10.5 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Carl Crawford1.2$6.6 M$21.357 M-$14.757 M
    Andre Ethier 1.1$6.05 M$18.0 M-$11.95 M
    Brandon League-0.2$-1.1 M$8.5 M-$9.6 M

    Notes

    • Despite a salary north of $32 million, Clayton Kershaw still checks in with a plus-$4.279 million net value, as ZiPS has him projected to again lead all pitchers with a 6.9 zWAR.
    • With a $10 million salary and a 0.7 zWAR, Brett Anderson has a minus-$6.15 million net value. However, that signing was a lottery ticket by the Dodgers, and it could just as easily wind up being a solid value if he can stay healthy.
    • Even if he doesn't repeat his 3.2 WAR from a year ago, the versatile Justin Turner still has a chance to be a great value with his $2.5 million salary. Jimmy Rollins and Juan Uribe are both getting on in years, so it's not out of the question to think Turner tops 300 at-bats.
    • The trade of Matt Kemp saved the Dodgers some money and broke up the outfield logjam, but the team still has an $18 million fourth outfielder in Andre Ethier. Owed $56 million over the next three years, he's probably not going anywhere.

26. Texas Rangers

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 77.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $140,385,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,811,419

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 2B Rougned Odor
    • C Robinson Chirinos

    Others: OF Jake Smolinski, OF Ryan Rua, SP Nick Tepesch, SP Nick Martinez, RP Tanner Scheppers, RP Shawn Tolleson, 2B Jurickson Profar, OF Michael Choice, RP Alex Claudio, RP Phil Klein

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Yu Darvish 5.0$27.5 M$10.0 M+$17.5 M
    Leonys Martin2.7$14.85 M$4.75 M+$10.1 M
    Adrian Beltre4.2$23.1 M$16 M+$7.1 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Prince Fielder1.2$6.6 M$24.0 M-$17.4 M
    Matt Harrison0.8$4.4 M$13.2 M-$8.8 M
    Shin-Soo Choo 1.8$9.9 M$14.0 M-$4.1 M

    Notes

    • The No. 3 best-value slot originally belonged to Martin Perez (plus-$5.9 M), but it was announced on Monday that Adrian Beltre had his 2016 option exercised and his salaries for 2015 and 2016 switched, per Ron Matejko of ESPNDallas.com. That means he'll make $16 million this season instead of $18 million, raising his net value from plus-$5.1 million to plus-$7.1 million.
    • The three players on the worst-value list played in a combined 169 games in 2014, but all three are capable of making a big impact if they're healthy. Choo is less of a worry having played 123 of those 169 games, but the other two are significant question marks.
    • Yu Darvish will make $10 million in 2015 and 2016 and $11 million in 2017 before hitting free agency for the first time as a 31-year-old. Even with his $51.7 million posting fee, he's been a steal.
    • The battle for left field will be one to watch this spring, as pre-arbitration guys Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski are both capable of making a big impact for cheap.

25. Minnesota Twins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 70.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $106,735,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,513,972

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 2B Brian Dozier
    • SS Danny Santana
    • DH Kennys Vargas
    • LF Oswaldo Arcia
    • SP Kyle Gibson

    Others: CF Aaron Hicks, IF Eduardo Escobar, C Josmil Pinto, SP Trevor May, RP Ryan Pressly, RP Caleb Thielbar, RP Michael Tonkin, C Chris Herrmann

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Phil Hughes4.0$22.0 M$9.2 M+$12.8 M
    Trevor Plouffe 2.1$11.55 M$4.8 M+$6.75 M
    Kurt Suzuki1.1$6.05 M$6.0 M+$0.05 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Joe Mauer2.0$11.0 M$23.0 M-$12.0 M
    Ervin Santana0.9$4.95 M$13.5 M-$8.55 M
    Torii Hunter0.4$3.85 M$10.5 M-$8.3 M

    Notes

    • The Twins struck gold with their signings of Phil Hughes ($8 million) and Kurt Suzuki ($2.75 million) last offseason, and both players were rewarded with multiyear extensions. Even with both guys getting a raise, they still project as solid values.
    • While those moves worked out, the addition of Ricky Nolasco and re-signing of Mike Pelfrey were a different story. They'll earn a combined $17.5 million in 2015 and project for a net value of minus-$15.3 million.
    • The model was admittedly tough on relief pitchers, but Glen Perkins in particular sticks out as someone who was not properly valued. A $4.65 million salary for an All-Star closer seems more than reasonable, but his projected value was a minus-$1.35 million.
    • The pre-arbitration middle infield of Brian Dozier (2.4 zWAR) and Danny Santana (1.2 zWAR) went a long way in helping the Twins' ranking here.

24. Boston Red Sox

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 85.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: 
    $183,733,095
    Projected Cost Per Win:
     $2,148,925

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SS Xander Bogaerts
    • RF Mookie Betts
    • SP Joe Kelly
    • C Christian Vazquez

    Others: UT Brock Holt, RP Robbie Ross, RP Brandon Workman, RP Anthony Varvaro, OF Jackie Bradley Jr.

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Wade Miley 3.1$17.05 M$4.17 M+$12.88 M
    Dustin Pedroia 3.8$20.9 M$12.625 M+$8.275 M
    Rick Porcello 3.5$19.25 M$12.5 M+$6.75 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Shane Victorino 1.2$6.6 M$13.0 M-$6.4 M
    Mike Napoli 2.0$11.0 M$16.0 M-$5.0 M
    Hanley Ramirez2.7$14.85 M$19.75 M-$4.9 M

    Notes

    • While Wade Miley and Rick Porcello both project as solid values, the pitcher to watch will be Clay Buchholz. He was good for a 3.2 WAR in 2013, and if he can return to that level, he too would be a steal with a $12.25 million salary. He's projected for a 2.0 zWAR.
    • It will be interesting to see how the Red Sox outfield situation plays out. Rusney Castillo and Shane Victorino will both make north of $10 million in 2015, but it's unlikely those guys will see everyday playing time, as Mookie Betts is likely to grab an everyday job.
    • The veteran foursome of Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli will make a combined $69.35 million this coming season. Those four guys will need to play up to their salaries if the Red Sox are going to legitimately contend.
    • It goes without saying that if Joe Kelly can win AL Cy Young honors, as he predicted, he'll be one of the biggest steals in the league.

23. San Francisco Giants

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 84.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $170,627,999
    Projected Cost Per Win: $2,019,266

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 2B Joe Panik

    Others: RP Jean Machi, RP George Kontos, OF Juan Perez, C Andrew Susac, RP Hunter Strickland, IF Matt Duffy

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Buster Posey6.4$35.2 M$17.278 M+$17.922 M
    Madison Bumgarner 4.3$23.65 M$6.95 M+$16.7 M
    Brandon Crawford2.4$13.2 M$3.175 M+$10.025 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Tim Lincecum0.3$1.65 M$18.0 M-$16.35 M
    Matt Cain1.3$7.15 M$20.833 M-$13.683 M
    Hunter Pence2.5$13.75 M$18.5 M-$4.75 M

    Notes

    • A lack of pre-arbitration talent, coupled with the $18 million salary of Tim Lincecum, earns the Giants a low spot in the rankings here.
    • Matt Cain is being paid like an ace with his $20.833 million salary, and the Giants need him to pitch like one. The 1.3 zWAR may seem low, but he is a question mark coming back from ankle and elbow surgeries.
    • Hunter Pence shows up on the list of worst values, but there is no arguing how much he means to this Giants team. His numbers dropped a bit across the board last season, but he was still a 4.7 WAR player. And at 31, there's no reason he can't at least match that number in 2015.
    • Other notable players in either direction include Brandon Belt (+6.85 M) and Casey McGehee (+$6.05 M) on the positive side, and Tim Hudson (-$4.3 M) on the negative side.

22. Baltimore Orioles

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 82.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll:
    $121,743,333
    Projected Cost Per Win:
     $1,475,677

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 3B Manny Machado
    • SP Kevin Gausman
    • 2B Jonathan Schoop

    Others: RP Brad Brach, C Caleb Joseph, UT Jimmy Paredes, OF David Lough, RP T.J. McFarland, C Steve Clevenger, SP Dylan Bundy

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Chris Tillman2.6$14.3 M$4.315 M+$9.985 M
    Adam Jones4.0$22.0 M$13.33 M+$8.67 M
    Wei-Yin Chen2.1$11.55 M$4.75 M+$6.8 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Ubaldo Jimenez1.7$9.35 M$12.25 M-$2.9 M
    Delmon Young0.1$0.55 M$2.25 M-$1.7 M
    Ryan Webb0.2$1.1 M$2.75 M-$1.65 M

    Notes

    • Two pre-arbitration players in Manny Machado and Kevin Gausman look like clear X-factors for the Orioles in 2015. A healthy Machado could go a long way in replacing the offense they lost, while Gausman has the upside to supplant Chris Tillman as the staff ace.
    • Chris Davis is projected for a 2.2 zWAR, which would put his value right around the $12 million salary he'll play at in 2015. He won't touch his 2013 numbers again, but a return to 2012 form (.827 OPS, 33 HR) would position him nicely for a sizable payday next offseason.
    • The 1.7 zWAR estimate on Ubaldo Jimenez seems a bit generous, especially if he winds up relegated to the bullpen. That being said, he's really the only bad contract on the books at this point for a penny-wise Orioles team.

21. Colorado Rockies

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 71.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $101,727,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,422,755

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 3B Nolan Arenado
    • SP Tyler Matzek
    • CF Charlie Blackmon
    • RF Corey Dickerson
    • 2B DJ LeMahieu

    Others: OF Brandon Barnes, SP David Hale, SP Eddie Butler, RP Tommy Kahnle, UT Charlie Culberson, RP Chad Bettis, RP Christian Friedrich

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Troy Tulowitzki 5.2$28.6 M$20.0 M+$8.6 M
    Tyler Chatwood 1.6$8.8 M$1.0 M+$7.8 M
    Jordan Lyles 1.7$9.35 M$2.475 M+$6.875 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Carlos Gonzalez1.8$9.9 M$16.429 M-$6.529 M
    Boone Logan0.3$1.65 M$5.5 M-$3.85 M
    Jorge De La Rosa1.9$10.45 M$12.5 M-$2.05 M

    Notes

    • There aren't many bargains on the Rockies roster, but they do have some impressive pre-arbitration talent. Colorado is led by a budding superstar in third baseman Nolan Arenado.
    • The ZiPS projections love Tyler Matzek, projecting a 3.1 zWAR for the 24-year-old left-hander. Alongside Tyler Chatwood and Jordan Lyles, the Rockies' rotation has a chance to provide some good value if it reaches expectations.
    • The health of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez remains the big question. If they can both stay healthy, they are capable of producing up to their salaries. But if they continue to frequent the disabled list, they'll once again be a drain on the payroll.

20. Cincinnati Reds

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 77.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll:
    $118,266,286
    Projected Cost Per Win:
     $1,526,017

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • CF Billy Hamilton
    • SP Tony Cingrani

    Others: SP Anthony DeSclafani, RP J.J. Hoover, RP Jumbo Diaz, IF Kris Negron, OF Donald Lutz, OF Jason Bourgeois, SP Dylan Axelrod, IF Eugenio Suarez

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Johnny Cueto 4.8$26.4 M$10.0 M+$16.4 M
    Todd Frazier3.6$19.8 M$4.5 M+$15.3 M
    Devin Mesoraco 2.9$15.95 M$2.525 M+$13.425 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Sean Marshall0.2$1.1 M$6.5 M-$5.4 M
    Manny Parra 0.2$1.1 M$3.5 M-$2.4 M
    Brandon Phillips1.9$10.45 M$12.0 M-$1.55 M

    Notes

    • He won't be much of a bargain once he cashes in next offseason, but for 2015 at least, Johnny Cueto remains a great value with a $10 million salary. The question remains whether the Reds will be willing to add another big-money, long-term deal to the books or if their ace will wind up walking.
    • If he's back to 100 percent, Joey Votto has a chance to fly past his 3.4 zWAR projection. He'll get more expensive in the years to come, but at $14 million in 2015, he still has a chance to provide some great value this coming year.
    • Multiyear deals for setup relievers are always risky, and the three-year, $16.5 million contract Sean Marshal signed is another perfect example. He's made a total of 31 appearances in the first two years of that deal, and he is expected to open 2015 on the shelf as he continues to rehab his left shoulder.
    • The extensions handed to Todd Frazier (two-year, $12 million) and Devin Mesoraco (four-year, $28 million) this offseason both look like smart moves.

19. San Diego Padres

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 84.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $98,843,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,169,740

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • RF Wil Myers
    • C Derek Norris
    • 3B Yangervis Solarte
    • RP Kevin Quackenbush

    Others: SP Robbie Erlin, SP Odrisamer Despaigne, RP Nick Vincent, RP Alex Torres, RP Brandon Maurer, 3B Will Middlebrooks, OF Abraham Almonte, 1B Tommy Medica, C Tim Federowicz, OF Rymer Liriano, 2B Cory Spangenberg

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Tyson Ross2.9$15.95 M$5.25 M+$10.7 M
    James Shields3.7$20.35 M$10. M+$10.35 M
    Jedd Gyorko1.6$8.8 M$2.0 M+$6.8 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Matt Kemp1.5$8.25 M$21.25 M-$13.0 M
    Cory Luebke0.3$1.65 M$5.375 M-$3.725 M
    Carlos Quentin0.8$4.4 M$8.0 M-$3.6 M

    Notes

    • By back-loading his contract, James Shields will make just $10 million in 2015, setting him up to be a terrific bargain. His salary then spikes to $21 million in the following three seasons.
    • The infield is a big question mark for the Padres, but Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko are still in a good position to deliver big-time value. They'll make a combined $3.65 million and are projected for 2.9 zWAR.
    • Matt Kemp ranks as the worst value when his entire $21.25 million salary for 2015 is taken into account, but it bears mentioning that the Padres will be paying $18 million of that so he could actually be considered a positive value. The Dodgers will then pay $3.5 million per year for the remainder of the deal.
    • Last year's Opening Day starter Andrew Cashner just missed cracking the best-values list with a plus-$6.4 million net value. He was fantastic before landing on the disabled list last season, and a healthy season could mean big things.

18. Toronto Blue Jays

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 82.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $125,695,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,523,576

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Drew Hutchison
    • SP Marcus Stroman
    • CF Dalton Pompey
    • RP Aaron Sanchez

    Others: RP Steve Delabar, RP Aaron Loup, 2B Ryan Goins, SP Kyle Drabek, SP Liam Hendriks, RP Todd Redmond, RP Scott Barnes, RP Chad Jenkins, OF Kevin Pillar, IF Steve Tolleson, SP Daniel Norris

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Josh Donaldson5.1$28.05 M$4.3 M+$23.75 M
    Russell Martin3.6$19.8 M$7.0 M+$12.8 M
    Jose Bautista 4.2$23.1 M$14.0 M+$9.1 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Ricky Romero0.0$0.0 M$7.7 M-$7.7 M
    Jose Reyes2.7$14.85 M$22.0 M-$7.15 M
    Mark Buehrle2.5$13.75 M$20.0 M-$6.25 M

    Notes

    • The setup of Russell Martin's contract makes him a good value for 2015, but it might not stay that way. He makes $7 million in 2015, $15 million in 2016 and then $20 million in each of the final three years of his deal.
    • New left fielder Michael Saunders just missed the best-values list with a plus-$8.675 million net value. For the record, Melky Cabrera is projected for a negative net value with the White Sox this season at minus-$3.65 million.
    • Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey will make a combined $32 million, but the team's other three starters are all pre-arbitration, assuming Aaron Sanchez or Daniel Norris winds up as the No. 5 starter.
    • It will be interesting to see if the team exercises its $12 million option on Dickey next season. He's come nowhere near matching his Cy Young performance, and Toronto will regret giving up Noah Syndergaard for him, but he's been a reliable innings-eater.

17. Los Angeles Angels

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 88.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $145,867,333
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,648,218

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • RF Kole Calhoun
    • SP Matt Shoemaker

    Others: SP Andrew Heaney, 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Josh Rutledge, SP Tyler Skaggs, RP Cam Bedrosian, UT Grant Green, IF Johnny Giavotella, RP Mike Morin, SP Cory Rasmus, SP Nick Tropeano

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Mike Trout9.6$52.8 M$6.083 M+$46.717 M
    Garrett Richards3.8$20.9 M$3.2 M+$17.7 M
    Hector Santiago1.3$7.15 M$2.29 M+$4.86 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Josh Hamilton1.4$7.7 M$25.4 M-$17.7 M
    C.J. Wilson1.5$8.25 M$18.5 M-$10.25 M
    Albert Pujols3.1$17.05 M$24.0 M-$6.95 M

    Notes

    • Based on our model here, Mike Trout has a net value of plus-$154.208 million over the past three seasons. His salary climbs from $1 million last year to $6.083 million this year to $16.083 million in 2016, but as long as he keeps producing like he has, he'll far outproduce his paycheck.
    • Josh Hamilton already ranks as one of the worst values in the league, and his salary climbs to $32.4 in 2016 and 2017, so that's not likely to change any time soon.
    • The same goes for Albert Pujols, whose back-loaded deal has his salary set to increase by $1 million each year through 2021. That's $189 million over the next seven years and a dizzying $30 million in 2021, when he'll be 41 years old.
    • For all the bad contracts the Angels have, the trio of Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago making a combined $6.025 million helps level things out a bit.

16. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Projected 2015 Wins: 78.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $101,072,500
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,287,548

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Wily Peralta
    • 2B Scooter Gennett
    • LF Khris Davis
    • SP Mike Fiers
    • SP Jimmy Nelson
    • SS Jean Segura

    Others: RP Will Smith, RP Jim Henderson, RP Jeremy Jeffress, RP Tyler Thornburg, IF Luis Sardinas, IF Elian Herrera, OF Logan Schafer

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Jonathan Lucroy 5.3$29.15 M$3.1 M+$26.05 M
    Carlos Gomez4.9$26.95 M$8.0 M+$18.95 M
    Ryan Braun3.5$19.25 M$13.0 M+$6.25 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Jonathan Broxton 0.4$2.2 M$9.0 M-$6.8 M
    Aramis Ramirez1.8$9.9 M$14.0 M-$4.1 M
    Neal Cotts 0.5$2.75 M$3.0 M$-0.25 M

    Notes

    • Outside of Mike Trout, no one projects for a higher net value than Jonathan Lucroy at plus-$26.05 million. His breakout season was good for a 6.3 WAR, and he's already more than earned the five-year, $11 million deal he signed back in 2012.
    • Carlos Gomez is set to earn $8 million this season and $9 million next year, wrapping up what was a three-year, $24 million extension. That puts him at 31 years old when he hits free agency, and it's fair to assume it will take significantly more money if the Brewers hope to keep him around.
    • While Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza will make a combined $23.5 million in 2015, the Brewers are relying heavily on the pre-arbitration trio of Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson in the starting rotation.
    • The middle infield of Scooter Gennett and Jean Segura has the potential to be perhaps the best bargain of any double-play combination in the league, but Segura will need to rebound from a trying 2014 campaign.

15. Atlanta Braves

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 73.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $97,583,899 
    Projected Cost Per Win:
     $1,327,672 

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Alex Wood
    • SP Shelby Miller
    • C Christian Bethancourt

    Others: RP Luis Avilan, SP Mike Foltynewicz, RP Arodys Vizcaino, OF Zoilo Almonte, OF Joey Terdoslavich

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Julio Teheran 4.3$23.65 M$1.167 M+$22.483 M
    Andrelton Simmons3.4$18.7 M$3.143 M+$15.557 M
    Freddie Freeman3.5$19.25 M$8.859 M+$10.391 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Melvin Upton Jr.1.0$5.5 M$15.05 M-$9.55 M
    Nick Markakis 1.2$6.6 M$11.0 M-$4.4 M
    Chris Johnson0.7$3.85 M$6.0 M-$2.15 M

    Notes

    • They may have traded off homegrown outfielders Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis, but the Braves did a great job locking up the homegrown trio of Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons and Julio Teheran to team-friendly, pre-arbitration deals.
    • Add in Shelby Miller and Alex Wood both being pre-arbitration and Mike Foltynewicz knocking on the door, and the Braves have some terrific low-cost pitching.
    • As bad as the Melvin Upton Jr. (that'll take some getting used to) deal has been, it's far from the worst value in baseball. That being said, the Braves would no doubt love to have control of the $48.15 million he's owed over the next three years. 
    • For all the smart long-term deals Atlanta handed out, the Chris Johnson extension was a swing-and-miss. He's not a terrible value at $6 million this coming season, but that rises to $7.5 million in 2016 and $9 million in 2017.

14. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Projected 2015 Wins: 71.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll:
    $90,195,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: 
    $1,261,468

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • CF A.J. Pollock
    • SS Chris Owings
    • SP Patrick Corbin
    • RP Addison Reed
    • OF David Peralta
    • OF Ender Inciarte

    Others: C Tuffy Gosewisch, SP Chase Anderson, SP Allen Webster, SP Rubby De La Rosa, SP Vidal Nuno, RP Randall Delgado, RP Evan Marshall, 3B Jake Lamb

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Paul Goldschmidt 4.2$23.1 M$3.1 M+$20.0 M
    Josh Collmenter 2.1$11.55 M$1.45 M+$10.1 M
    Yasmany Tomas1.9$10.45 M$5.5 M+$4.95 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Cody Ross0.2$1.1 M$9.5 M-$8.4 M
    Trevor Cahill 1.0$5.5 M$12.2 M-$6.7 M
    Aaron Hill1.2$6.6 M$12.0 M-$5.4 M

    Notes

    • The D'Backs unloaded one of their biggest salary commitments this offseason when they shipped catcher Miguel Montero and the $40 million he is owed over the next three years to the Chicago Cubs. They're left with a hole at the position now, though.
    • Cody Ross and Trevor Cahill will both come off the books after the 2015 season, along with Bronson Arroyo ($9.5 million) and reliever Brad Ziegler ($5 million), so Arizona will be in a great position to spend next winter.
    • The five-year, $32.05 million contract Paul Goldschmidt signed prior to last season is one of the best bargains in all of baseball. Now they're hoping the six-year, $68.5 million deal they gave Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas can provide similar value.

13. New York Mets

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 81.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $97,005,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,190,245

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Matt Harvey
    • SP Zack Wheeler
    • CF Juan Lagares
    • SP Jacob deGrom
    • C Travis d'Arnaud
    • RP Jeurys Familia

    Others: SS Wilmer Flores, RP Josh Edgin, RP Carlos Torres, RP Vic Black, RP Scott Rice, OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF Matt den Dekker, C Anthony Recker, IF Dilson Herrera, SP Rafael Montero

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Lucas Duda3.1$17.05 M$4.2 M+$12.85 M
    Ruben Tejada1.4$7.7 M$1.88 M+$5.82 M
    Daniel Murphy2.2$12.1 M$8.0 M+$4.2 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Curtis Granderson1.8$9.9 M$16.0 M-$6.1 M
    Bartolo Colon1.1$6.05 M$11.0 M-$4.95 M
    Bobby Parnell0.2$1.1 M$3.7 M-$2.6 M

    Notes

    • Even with Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese making a combined $18.05 million, the Mets' starting rotation should deliver some terrific value. The impressive young trio of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom are all pre-arbitration.
    • The ZiPS projections have Ruben Tejada making 453 at-bats in 2015, which explains his surprising placement among the team's best values. As long as Wilmer Flores doesn't prove to be a liability with the glove, chances are Tejada will be relegated to utility infield duty.
    • Even with closer Jenrry Mejia getting a raise to $2.595 million in his first year of arbitration, the Mets still have one of the cheapest bullpens in baseball. Jeurys Familia, Carlos Torres, Vic Black and Josh Edgin are all key arms who will be playing for close to the minimum.
    • Ideally, the Mets would find a way to unload either Colon or Dillon Gee (-$2.0 M net value) via trade before Opening Day rolls around. If they can do that, their ranking here would improve a bit.

12. Chicago White Sox

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 81.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: 
    $116,582,666
    Projected Cost Per Win:
     $1,430,462

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • CF Adam Eaton
    • RF Avisail Garcia
    • 3B Conor Gillaspie

    Others: RP Dan Jennings, RP Jake Petricka, RP Zach Putnam, RP Maikel Cleto, 2B Carlos Sanchez, OF J.B. Shuck, RP Eric Surkamp, IF Leury Garcia, C Rob Brantley

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Chris Sale5.8$31.9 M$6.0 M+$25.9 M
    Jose Quintana3.4$18.7 M$3.4 M+$15.3 M
    Jose Abreu3.5$19.25 M$8.67 M+$10.58 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    John Danks -0.4$-2.2 M$15.75-$17.95 M
    David Robertson1.1$6.05 M$10.0 M-$3.95 M
    Adam LaRoche 1.5$8.25 M$12.0 M-$3.75 M

    Notes

    • Ace Chris Sale will see his salary jump from $2.5 million to $6 million in 2015, but he's still an absolute steal. That five-year, $32.5 million extension he signed prior to 2013, which includes a pair of option years worth a combined $26 million, ranks as one of the best decisions in franchise history.
    • A healthy John Danks posted a 4.74 ERA with 11 wins and 193.2 innings pitched last season, good for a 0.8 WAR. He's definitely overpaid—he's due $31.5 million over the next two seasons—but the minus-0.4 zWAR projection seems a bit harsh.
    • David Robertson and Adam LaRoche may project as negative net values, but adding a proven closer and a left-handed power bat to protect Jose Abreu were musts this winter. Those signings make the team better as a whole, regardless of what the individual WAR totals may reflect.
    • Newcomer Jeff Samardzija is still relatively cheap with a $9.8 million salary in his final year of arbitration. Projected for a 3.4 zWAR, he just misses cracking the best-values list with a plus-$9.8 million net.

11. Seattle Mariners

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 86.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $123,977,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,433,260

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP James Paxton
    • SP Taijuan Walker
    • C Mike Zunino
    • SS Brad Miller
    • RP Yoervis Medina

    Others: SP Roenis Elias, RP Danny Farquhar, RP Dominic Leone, RP Lucas Luetge, RP Carson Smith, SP Erasmo Ramirez, C Jesus Montero, SS Chris Taylor

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Kyle Seager 4.3$23.65 M$4.0 M+$19.65 M
    Hisashi Iwakuma 2.8$15.4 M$7.0 M+$8.4 M
    Dustin Ackley 1.8$9.9 M$2.6 M+$7.3 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Fernando Rodney0.4$2.75 M$7.0 M-$4.25 M
    J.A. Happ 0.6$3.3 M$6.7 M-$3.4 M
    Willie Bloomquist 0.1$0.55 M$3.0 M-$2.45 M

    Notes

    • The two highest-paid players on the Mariners, Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano are both still projected for positive net values, at plus-$5.943 million and plus-$5.15 million, respectively. Hernandez will make $24.857 million, while Cano will earn an even $24 million.
    • With Hisashi Iwakuma, Fernando Rodney and J.A. Happ, among others, headed for free agency next offseason, the Mariners only have five players currently on the books for 2015. That of course does not count all of their arbitration and pre-arbitration players, though.
    • Again, this model did not favor relievers, as they tend to post low WAR marks relative to their actual impact on the team. After converting 48 of 51 save chances with a 2.85 ERA, it's hard to say Fernando Rodney is not worth $7 million.
    • Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Mike Zunino are all candidates to take a big step forward in 2015. And if that they do, this is a roster that could challenge for the best overall value.

10. Chicago Cubs

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    Brian Kersey/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 82.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: 
    $117,250,000
    Projected Cost Per Win:
     $1,421,212

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 2B Javier Baez
    • SP Kyle Hendricks
    • RP Hector Rondon
    • RP Neil Ramirez
    • UT Arismendy Alcantara

    Others: 2B Tommy La Stella, 3B Mike Olt, RP Justin Grimm, RP Brian Schlitter, OF Junior Lake, RP Zac Rosscup

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Anthony Rizzo4.1$22.55 M$5.286 M+$17.264 M
    Starlin Castro3.4$18.7 M$6.857 M+$11.843 M
    Jake Arrieta 2.3$12.65 M$3.63 M+$9.02 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Edwin Jackson0.1$0.55 M$13.0 M-$12.45 M
    David Ross0.2$1.1 M$2.5 M-$1.4 M
    Gerardo Concepcion0.0$0.0 M$1.2 M-$1.2 M

    Notes

    • Theo Epstein and Co. have done a great job trimming the fat over the past three years. Outside of the ill-advised decision to sign Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52 million deal, their payroll situation is as good as any in baseball.
    • Though he's not mentioned above, don't be surprised if Jorge Soler winds up being one of the best values on the roster for the Cubs in 2015. He signed a nine-year, $30 million deal when he first joined the Cubs and will make just $2.667 million this coming season.
    • Other than free-agent addition Jason Motte ($4.5 M) and Pedro Strop ($2.525 M), the Cubs' bullpen will likely consist of low-cost, pre-arbitration arms. Closer Hector Rondon and setup man Neil Ramirez will both be making the minimum.
    • The No. 1 bargain in Chicago is still Chris Sale, but the seven-year, $41 million deal Anthony Rizzo signed prior to last season might be "1A" on that list.

9. Houston Astros

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    Projected 2015 Wins: 74.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $73,290,500
    Projected Cost Per Win: $983,765

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • RF George Springer
    • SP Dallas Keuchel
    • SP Collin McHugh
    • LF Evan Gattis

    Others: OF Jake Marisnick, SP Dan Straily, SP Brett Oberholtzer, 3B Matt Dominguez, OF Robbie Grossman, RP Josh Fields, RP Will Harris, SS Jonathan Villar, SP Jake Buchanan, SP Brad Peacock, SP Alex White, RP Samuel Deduno

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Jose Altuve 3.6$19.8 M$2.688 M+$17.112 M
    Jason Castro2.7$14.85 M$4.0 M+$10.85 M
    Hank Conger1.2$6.6 M$1.075 M+$5.525 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Scott Feldman 1.0$5.5 M$10.0 M-$4.5 M
    Pat Neshek 0.4$2.2 M$5.5 M-$3.3 M
    Luke Gregerson 0.5$2.75 M$6.0 M-$3.25 M

    Notes

    • After whittling the payroll down as low as $26,105,600 in 2013, the Astros have finally begun spending again. Guys like Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Colby Rasmus and Jed Lowrie may not project as the best bargains, but they filled glaring needs at a relatively low price.
    • Even if he regresses some from his fantastic 2014 numbers, Jose Altuve still figures to be a steal at $2.688 million this coming season. Assuming they exercise his two option years, the Astros will have him for the next five years at a total of just $23.564 million.
    • With Evan Gattis and Dallas Keuchel not up for arbitration until next winter, and George Springer and Collin McHugh still two years away, some of the team's top talent is playing for peanuts.

8. Oakland Athletics

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 80.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $81,024,167
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,006,511

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Sonny Gray
    • SP Drew Pomeranz
    • SP Jesse Hahn
    • C Stephen Vogt
    • SS Marcus Semien

    Others: SP A.J. Griffin, RP Dan Otero, RP Evan Scribner, RP R.J. Alvarez, C Josh Phegley, 1B Nate Freiman, SP Chris Bassitt, SP Kendall Graveman, SP Sean Nolin

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Ben Zobrist 4.0$22.0 M$7.5 M+$14.5 M
    Brett Lawrie 2.2$12.1 M$1.925 M+$10.175 M
    Josh Reddick 2.4$13.2 M$4.1 M+$9.1 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Tyler Clippard 1.0$5.5 M$8.3 M-$2.8 M
    Ike Davis0.4$2.2 M$3.8 M-$1.6 M
    Scott Kazmir2.1$11.5 M$13.0 M-$1.5 M

    Notes

    • In unloading the likes of Josh Donaldson, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Moss, Derek Norris and John Jaso, the Athletics added a wealth of controllable young talent. The bulk of it is either big-league ready or close to it, so expect them to reap the rewards of that value play in the near future.
    • Ben Zobrist has earned $23,320,500 to this point in his career while racking up a 34.8 WAR, giving him a career net value of plus-$168,079,500 according to this model. Seems about right.
    • Outside of the top three listed above, closer Sean Doolittle should also be a great value, provided he can move past a slight tear in his rotator cuff. His $780,000 salary gives him a plus-$6.92 projected net value.
    • Billy Butler makes a reasonable $6.7 million this coming season, but that jumps to $11.67 in 2016 and 2017, so he'll need to return to form if he's going to be worth that kind of money.

7. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Projected 2015 Wins: 88.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $121,085,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,368,192

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 1B Matt Adams
    • SP Michael Wacha
    • RP Trevor Rosenthal
    • SP Carlos Martinez
    • 2B Kolten Wong

    Others: RP Seth Maness, RP Kevin Siegrist, RP Sam Freeman, IF Pete Kozma, SP Marco Gonzales, OF Randal Grichuk

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Jason Heyward 4.4$24.2 M$8.3 M+$15.9 M
    Lance Lynn3.8$20.9 M$7.0 M+$13.9 M
    Matt Carpenter3.2$17.6 M$3.75 M+$13.85 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Jaime Garcia0.7$3.85 M$9.375 M-$5.525 M
    Randy Choate 0.2$1.1 M$3.0 M-$1.9 M
    Matt Holliday2.9$15.95 M$17.0 M-$1.05 M

    Notes

    • Aside from the trio listed above, the likes of John Lackey (+$13.8 M), Yadier Molina (+$9.55 M), Jon Jay (+$8.5 M), Adam Wainwright (+$8.0 M) and Peter Bourjos (+$7.15 M) are also all projected to be terrific values.
    • Wainwright is the highest-paid player on the team with a $19.5 million salary, and there are some legitimate concerns about the health of his arm. He was a 4.5 WAR player last season, so his 5.0 zWAR projection may be a bit ambitious.
    • On the flip side, Jason Heyward has averaged 4.9 WAR the past three seasons, is entering the prime of his career and has moved to a better situation in St. Louis. All of that makes his 4.4 zWAR projection seem like the floor for 2015.
    • Jaime Garcia is in the final guaranteed year of his deal, with an $11.5 million option and $500,000 buyout for 2016. The team would no doubt love to have him back healthy, but he's made just 36 total starts the past three years.

6. Washington Nationals

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 92.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $162,548,857
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,757,285

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Tanner Roark

    Others: SP Taylor Jordan, RP Aaron Barrett, RP Xavier Cedeno, RP Blake Treinen, 1B/OF Tyler Moore, C Sandy Leon, CF Michael Taylor

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Anthony Rendon 4.2$23.1 M$1.8 M+$21.3 M
    Stephen Strasburg 4.9$26.95 M$7.4 M+$19.55 M
    Bryce Harper3.5$19.25 M$2.5 M+$16.75 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Jayson Werth 2.3$12.65 M$21.571 M-$8.921 M
    Ryan Zimmerman1.8$9.9 M$14.0 M-$4.1 M
    Drew Storen 0.6$3.3 M$5.7 M-$2.4 M

    Notes

    • The Nationals are loaded with key players who project to be good values. Max Scherzer (+$15.307), Ian Desmond (+$10.45 M), Jordan Zimmermann (+$8.25 M), Gio Gonzalez (+$8.15 M), Wilson Ramos (+$8.0 M), Doug Fister (+$7.3 M) and Denard Span (+$6.4 M) all check in over $6 million net, and that group doesn't even include the three best values listed above.
    • Looking closer at the Nationals' starting rotation, they all rank as positive values for a total plus-$58.557 net value, despite the fact that they'll earn a combined $63.543 million.
    • It will be interesting to see what a full-time move to first base does for Ryan Zimmerman. He was the face of the franchise just a few years ago, and he's still only 30 years old. A bounce-back year is certainly possible.
    • Jayson Werth has been great the past few seasons, but the 35-year-old is owed $64.713 million over the next three seasons. Will age start to catch up with him before his megadeal is over?

5. Kansas City Royals

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 80.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $113,565,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,410,745

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Yordano Ventura

    Others: IF Christian Colon, RP Brandon Finnegan, SP Brian Flynn, C Erik Kratz

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Salvador Perez3.6$19.8 M$1.75 M+$18.05 M
    Lorenzo Cain2.9$15.95 M$2.725 M+$13.225 M
    Kris Medlen 2.3$12.65 M$2.0 M+$10.65 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Alex Rios1.2$6.6 M$11.0 M-$4.4 M
    Kendrys Morales0.5$2.725 M$6.5 M-$3.75 M
    Omar Infante 1.0$5.5 M$7.5 M-$2.0 M

    Notes

    • Outside of their three best values listed above, the likes of Danny Duffy (+$9.675), Alex Gordon (+$9.65 M), Jarrod Dyson (+$7.575 M), Alcides Escobar (+$6.9 M), Mike Moustakas (+$6.71 M) and Eric Hosmer (+$5.35 M) also rank as solid values for 2015.
    • The ZiPS projections on Kris Medlen have him throwing 140.2 innings, which may be ambitious as he makes his way back from a second Tommy John surgery. That being said, he was good for a combined 6.3 WAR when healthy in 2012 and 2013, so a 2.3 WAR is certainly not out of the question if he avoids injury.
    • The Royals took a chance signing Salvador Perez to a five-year, $7 million extension prior to the 2012 season, as he had just 39 big-league games under his belt at that point. It's paid huge dividends, though, as he's turned into one of the game's best backstops.
    • The only real negative-value players on the roster are veterans who were signed to fill the holes around the Royals' homegrown core. Those were necessary moves, and if a few things break right for the likes of Alex Rios, Kendrys Morales and Omar Infante, they could all wind up on the positive side of things.

4. Tampa Bay Rays

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    Projected 2015 Wins: 78.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $73,498,334
    Projected Cost Per Win: $936,285

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Jake Odorizzi
    • SP Alex Colome
    • LF Steven Souza
    • RF Kevin Kiermaier
    • 2B Nick Franklin

    Others: RP Brad Boxberger, RP Jeff Beliveau, OF Brandon Guyer, IF Tim Beckham, C Curt Casali, SP Burch Smith

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Alex Cobb3.7$20.35 M$4.0 M+$16.35 M
    Chris Archer3.0$16.5 M$1.167 M+$15.33 M
    Drew Smyly 3.0$16.5 M$2.65 M+$13.85 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    James Loney 0.6$3.3 M$8.667 M-$5.367 M
    Grant Balfour0.4$2.2 M$7.0 M-$4.8 M
    David DeJesus0.7$3.85 M$5.125 M-$1.275 M

    Notes

    • Starting pitching is obviously the story here, as three of Tampa Bay's starters occupy the best-values slots, and the other two are pre-arbitration. That also does not include Matt Moore, who has a very reasonable $3.1 million salary for 2015.
    • Evan Longoria is the team's highest-paid player with an $11 million salary, but he still checked in with a plus-$9.35 million net value. Desmond Jennings also just missed cracking the top three with a plus-$10.65 net.
    • It's clear in hindsight that the $7 million the Rays are paying Grant Balfour this season would have been better spent re-signing Fernando Rodney. But at the time, it looked like a reasonable move. With Jake McGee sidelined, Balfour could have a chance to win back the closer's role, if only for the interim.

3. Miami Marlins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 81.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $70,105,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $860,184

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Jose Fernandez
    • LF Christian Yelich
    • CF Marcell Ozuna
    • SP Jarred Cosart
    • SS Adeiny Hechavarria
    • SP Tom Koehler

    Others: RP A.J. Ramos, RP Bryan Morris, SP Brad Hand, IF Derek Dietrich, IF Donovan Solano, SP Andre Rienzo, RP Sam Dyson, C J.T. Realmuto

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Giancarlo Stanton5.4$29.7 M$6.5 M+$23.2 M
    Henderson Alvarez2.3$12.65 M$4.0 M+$8.65 M
    Mat Latos 3.2$17.6 M$9.4 M+$8.2 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Michael Morse0.4$2.2 M$7.5 M-$5.3 M
    Jeff Baker-0.2$-1.1 M$2.1 M-$3.2 M
    Aaron Crow0.0$0.0 M$1.975 M$-1.975 M

    Notes

    • His $325 million extension was one of the biggest stories of the offseason, but Giancarlo Stanton will still earn just $6.5 million in 2015. That makes him one of the best deals around.
    • The pre-arbitration crop is what earns the Marlins such a high ranking, as outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna look like stars in the making, and ace Jose Fernandez will be looking to return to form after Tommy John surgery.
    • It's not quite as big a bargain as the Cleveland Indians' pitching staff, but the Marlins' starting rotation of Fernandez, Henderson Alvarez, Mat Latos, Jarred Cosart and Tom Koehler has a chance to be just as good for a combined $15.225 million.
    • Michael Morse does not provide much in the way of WAR, but he will be counted on to provide a run-producing presence out of the cleanup spot to help protect Stanton. Moving to first base full-time should help keep him on the field.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 83.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $89,467,667
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,071,469

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Gerrit Cole
    • RF Gregory Polanco
    • SP Jeff Locke
    • SS Jordy Mercer

    Others: RP Stolmy Pimentel, RP John Holdzkom, 1B/OF Andrew Lambo, RP Brandon Cumpton, C Tony Sanchez, IF Pedro Florimon

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Andrew McCutchen 6.3$34.65 M$10.208 M+$24.442 M
    Starling Marte3.6$19.8 M$1.333 M+$18.467 M
    Josh Harrison3.0$16.5 M$2.8 M+$13.7 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Charlie Morton1.1$6.05 M$8.0 M-$1.95 M
    Jose Tabata 0.6$3.3 M$4.167 M-$0.867 M
    Corey Hart0.4$2.2 M$2.5 M-$0.3 M

    Notes

    • Outside of their three best values, the Pirates also project to get a significant return out of Neil Walker (+$9.6 M), Pedro Alvarez (+$4.7 M), Francisco Cervelli (+$3.962), Francisco Liriano (+$3.733 M) and Vance Worley (+$3.6 M).
    • The big mystery here is Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang. That four-year, $11 million contract he signed was a minimal risk by the Pirates, and it could wind up being an absolute steal.
    • It will be interesting to see how the first-base platoon of Pedro Alvarez and Corey Hart plays out. They'll make a combined $8.25 million, and if both guys are healthy and everything breaks right, they're capable of combining for 30 home runs and 100 RBI.
    • The outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco will make just $12.056 million combined in 2015. Hard to think of a better way for a team to spend $12 million.

1. Cleveland Indians

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2015 Wins: 83.5
    Projected 2015 Payroll: $86,427,000
    Projected Cost Per Win: $1,035,054

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Corey Kluber
    • SP Danny Salazar
    • RP Cody Allen
    • SS Jose Ramirez
    • SP Trevor Bauer

    Others: SP T.J. House, SP Zach McAllister, RP Nick Hagadone, RP Kyle Crockett, IF Zach Walters

    3 Best Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Yan Gomes 3.8$20.9 M$1.083 M+$19.817 M
    Michael Brantley3.4$18.7 M$5.875 M+$12.825 M
    Carlos Santana2.7$14.85 M$4.167 M+$10.683 M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    Nick Swisher0.6$3.3 M$15.0 M-$11.7 M
    Michael Bourn 1.9$10.45 M$13.5 M-$3.05 M
    David Murphy0.6$3.3 M$6.0 M-$2.7 M

    Notes

    • There might not be a more valuable pre-arbitration player in the league than Corey Kluber, who earned all of $514,000 last season on his way to AL Cy Young honors. The 28-year-old will be arbitration-eligible next winter, but he'll be house money once again in 2015.
    • Outside of the ill-advised signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, the Indians are in a great position financially. Not locking up Justin Masterson long-term is one of the best things that could have happened to them.
    • The front office did a great job getting out ahead of the breakout seasons from Yan Gomes (six-year, $23 million) and Michael Brantley (four-year, $25 million) last winter, locking them both up with extremely team-friendly extensions.
    • The Indians' starting rotation, widely-regarded as one of the best in all of baseball, is projected to make a combined $9.357 million this coming year. That's a big reason why you see the team ranked so highly here.

The 2015 All-Value Team

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Just for the fun of it, here's a look at the best values at each position. The All-Value team, if you will:

    Starting Lineup

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    2B Jose Altuve 3.6$19.8 M$2.688 M+$17.112 M
    CF Mike Trout9.6$52.8 M$6.083 M+$46.717 M
    DH Andrew McCutchen 6.3$34.65 M$10.208 M+$24.442 M
    RF Giancarlo Stanton5.4$29.7 M$6.5 M+$23.2 M
    1B Paul Goldschmidt 4.2$23.1 M$3.1 M+$20.0 M
    3B Josh Donaldson5.1$28.05 M$4.3 M+$23.75 M
    C Jonathan Lucroy 5.3$29.15 M$3.1 M+$26.05 M
    LF Starling Marte3.6$19.8 M$1.333 M+$18.467 M
    SS Andrelton Simmons3.4$18.7 M$3.143 M+$15.557 M

    Pitching Staff

    Player2015 WARValue2015 SalaryNet Value
    SP Chris Sale5.8$31.9 M$6.0 M+$25.9 M
    SP Julio Teheran 4.3$23.65 M$1.167 M+$22.483 M
    SP Stephen Strasburg 4.9$26.95 M$7.4 M+$19.55 M
    SP Garrett Richards3.8$20.9 M$3.2 M+$17.7 M
    SP Yu Darvish 5.0$27.5 M$10.0 M+$17.5 M
    RP Sean Doolittle1.4$7.7 M$0.78 M+$6.92 M

    This group costs a total of $69.002 million in 2015 and has a combined zWAR of 71.7, giving it a plus-$325.348 million net value. 

    All stats featured throughout the article are courtesy of FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.

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