MLB's 'Moneyball' Power Rankings 2017: Who Is Overpaying/Underpaying the Most?

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2017

MLB's 'Moneyball' Power Rankings 2017: Who Is Overpaying/Underpaying the Most?

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    Mike Trout is still the best value in baseball.
    Mike Trout is still the best value in baseball.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

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

    Whether we're talking about a small-market club facing a payroll crunch or a large-market team with a seemingly endless cash flow, baseball is still a business.

    It's all about getting the most value out of your players when it comes to assembling an MLB roster, whether it's pre-arbitration guys contributing at a young age or big-money stars living up to their lofty paychecks.

    So, which club is getting the most bang for its buck?

    That's what we've set out to answer.

          

    Note: Last year's version of this article is referenced frequently in the following piece and can be found here.

Explanation

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    Angels Baseball LP/Getty Images

    There are a lot of numbers and names to digest, so allow me to first offer an explanation of what everything means.

    The following slides are broken into four sections:

    2017 Payroll Projections

    At the top of each slide, you will find each team's projected 2017 payroll courtesy of Roster Resource as well as where that payroll ranks among all 30 MLB clubs.

                

    Pre-Arbitration Players

    Below that is a bulleted list of key pre-arbitration players, followed by a quick list of any other notable players 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 club's three most and least valuable players for the upcoming season, based on the following three-step process.

    Step 1: To start, I took each player's projected WAR for 2017. My personal preference is the ZiPS projections from Dan Szymborski, which can be found here. Those projections will be referenced as zWAR throughout the piece and will always refer back to the respective team pages on FanGraphs.

    Step 2: Based on the FanGraphs value system, 1.0 WAR was worth around $8 million in 2016.

    So from there, each player's projected zWAR from Step 1 was multiplied by eight. That gave us the player's projected 2017 value in millions of dollars.

    Step 3: Each player's salary for 2017 was then subtracted from his projected 2017 value, resulting in his 2017 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: (2017 zWAR x 8) - 2017 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 impact will be a bargain; that's why those players were highlighted at the beginning.

    In the case of a tie for one of the top three spots, the player with the higher projected WAR was chosen in the case of best value, and the player with the higher salary was chosen in the case of worst value.

             

    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.

    Props for going through the criteria. You'll no doubt have a better understanding of what's to come.

30. New York Yankees (2016 Rank: 30)

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    SP Michael Pineda /
    SP Michael Pineda /Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $197 million (3rd in MLB)

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • C Gary Sanchez
    • OF Aaron Judge
    • SP Luis Severino

    Others: 1B Greg Bird, SP Chad Green, SP Luis Cessa, SP Bryan Mitchell

            

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Michael Pineda3.5$28.0M$7.4M$20.6M
    RP Dellin Betances2.0$16.0M$3.0M$13.0M
    SS Didi Gregorius1.9$15.2M$5.1M$10.1M

               

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP CC Sabathia1.5$12.0M$25.0M-$13.0M
    DH Matt Holliday0.5$4.0M$13.0M-$9.0M
    RP Aroldis Chapman1.3$10.4M$17.2M-$6.8M

              

    Notes

    • CC Sabathia is still the worst contract on the roster, but he had a significantly worse net value a year ago (-$23.4M). His $25 million salary will finally be off the books next winter.
    • Slugger Chris Carter was tied for the third-best value with a 1.7 zWAR projected for his reasonable $3.5 million contract. He's a one-dimensional player but should have no trouble making good on that one-year deal.
    • The middle infield duo of 26-year-old Starlin Castro (+$2.4M) and 27-year-old Didi Gregorius (+$10.1M) provide nice value, but they'll need to keep producing to hold off top prospects Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo.

29. Detroit Tigers (2016 Rank: 22)

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    2B Ian Kinsler /
    2B Ian Kinsler /Duane Burleson/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $201 million (2nd in MLB)

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Michael Fulmer
    • SP Daniel Norris
    • C James McCann

    Others: OF Tyler Collins, OF Mikie Mahtook

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    2B Ian Kinsler3.3$26.4M$11.0M$15.4M
    RF J.D. Martinez2.7$21.6M$11.75M$9.85M
    3B Nick Castellanos1.2$9.6M$3.0M$6.6M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    DH Victor Martinez0.0$0M$18.0M-$18.0M
    SP Mike Pelfrey0.6$4.8M$8.0M-$3.2M
    RP Mark Lowe0.3$2.4M$5.5M-$3.1M

    Notes

    • Miguel Cabrera (+$1.6M) and Justin Verlander (+$0M) will both earn $28 million this coming season, accounting for 27.9 percent of what is the second-largest payroll in baseball. And yet, they're still by no means overpaid, relative to their expected production.
    • What were the Tigers thinking with that two-year, $16 million deal they gave Mike Pelfrey? He was 4-10 with a 5.07 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in 119 innings last season, and there's not much reason for optimism heading into 2017.
    • The 0.0 zWAR projection for Victor Martinez seems harsh. As a DH, he doesn't provide any value outside of his bat, but he posted an .826 OPS with 27 home runs and 86 RBI for a 1.6 WAR last season, and a similar campaign is doable even at 38 years old.

28. Milwaukee Brewers (2016 Rank: 28)

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    1B Eric Thames /
    1B Eric Thames /Rick Wood-USA TODAY Sports

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $66 million (28th in MLB)

           

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 2B Jonathan Villar
    • SP Junior Guerra
    • SP Zach Davies

    Others: SS Orlando Arcia, CF Keon Broxton, SP Jimmy Nelson, UT Hernan Perez, C Andrew Susac, RP Corey Knebel, C Jett Bandy

              

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RP Tommy Milone1.1$8.8M$1.25M$7.55M
    SP Chase Anderson1.2$9.6M$2.45M$7.15M
    1B Eric Thames1.2$9.6M$4.0M$5.6M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    LF Ryan Braun1.8$14.4M$20.0M-$5.6M
    RP Neftali Feliz0.2$1.6M$5.35M-$3.75M
    SP Matt Garza1.1$8.8M$12.5M-$3.7M

              

    Notes

    • Veteran starter Matt Garza has posted a minus-0.7 WAR over the first three seasons of the four-year, $50 million deal he signed to join the Brewers in 2014. Unless he's a Cy Young contender in 2017, that one will go down as a bust.
    • Eric Thames crushed 124 home runs the past three seasons playing in the Korean Baseball Organization, and his three-year, $16 million contract is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward move for the rebuilding Brew Crew.
    • With a $20 million salary, Ryan Braun is responsible for roughly 30.3 percent of the team's payroll for the upcoming season. At least he was back to producing at an elite level last year with a .903 OPS and 30 home runs.

27. San Diego Padres (2016 Rank: 25)

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    1B Wil Myers /
    1B Wil Myers /Andy Hayt/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $62 million (30th in MLB)

             

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • CF Manuel Margot
    • RF Hunter Renfroe
    • C Austin Hedges

    Others: LF Travis Jankowski, RP Ryan Buchter, C/OF Christian Bethancourt, SS Luis Sardinas, SP Paul Clemens, SP Luis Perdomo, RP Kevin Quackenbush

              

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    1B Wil Myers2.7$21.6M$4.5M$17.1M
    3B Yangervis Solarte1.8$14.4M$2.625M$11.775M
    SP Jhoulys Chacin1.2$9.6M$1.75M$7.85M

                

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Trevor Cahill0.1$0.8M$1.75M-$0.95M
    SP Clayton Richard0.4$3.2M$1.75M$1.45M
    RP Brandon Maurer0.5$4.0M$1.9M$2.1M

             

    Notes

    • The Padres payroll was up to a franchise-record $108.4 million in 2015, per Cot's Baseball Contracts, but the early stages of a dramatic rebuild leave them with the lowest payroll in the league.
    • The projected starting rotation of Jered Weaver (+$6.6M), Jhoulys Chacin (+$7.85M), Clayton Richard (+$1.45M), Trevor Cahill (-$0.95M) and Christian Friedrich (+$7.01M) will earn a combined $10.04 million with a projected plus-$21.96 million net value.
    • Wil Myers will earn a combined $14.5 million over the next three seasons before his salary jumps to $22.5 million in 2020 after he signed a six-year, $83 million extension this offseason.

26. Philadelphia Phillies (2016 Rank: 29)

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    CF Odubel Herrera /
    CF Odubel Herrera /Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $111 million (21st in MLB)

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Aaron Nola
    • SP Vincent Velasquez
    • 3B Maikel Franco

    Others: SP Jerad Eickhoff, C Cameron Rupp, 1B Tommy Joseph, RP Hector Neris

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    CF Odubel Herrera3.0$24.0M$1.6M$22.4M
    2B Cesar Hernandez1.2$9.6M$2.55M$7.05M
    SS Freddy Galvis1.0$8.0M$4.35M$3.65M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    LF Howie Kendrick0.3$2.4M$10.0M-$7.6M
    RP Joaquin Benoit0.4$3.2M$7.5M-$4.3M
    IF Andres Blanco-0.1-$0.8M$3.0M-$3.8M

    Notes

    • The Phillies will need to move one of Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis to clear the way for top prospect J.P. Crawford in the near future. Neither is a star, but both are a good value at their current price.
    • Odubel Herrera went from Rule 5 pick to cornerstone piece of the team's rebuilding efforts in a matter of two years, signing a five-year, $30.5 million extension this winter.
    • The veteran duo of Jeremy Hellickson (-$1.2M) and Clay Buchholz (+$0.1M) are the two highest-paid players on the team, and both are making roughly their projected worth. Both could be on the move come July if they pitch well.

25. Cincinnati Reds (2016 Rank: 27)

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    CF Billy Hamilton /
    CF Billy Hamilton /Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $92 million (24th in MLB)

            

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Anthony DeSclafani
    • LF Adam Duvall
    • SP Brandon Finnegan

    Others: RP Michael Lorenzen, 3B Eugenio Suarez, 2B Jose Peraza, RF Scott Schebler, C Tucker Barnhart

             

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    CF Billy Hamilton1.7$13.6M$2.625M$10.975M
    1B Joey Votto4.1$32.8M$22.0M$10.8M
    SS Zack Cozart1.5$12.0M$5.325M$6.675M

              

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Homer Bailey1.0$8.0M$19.0M-$11.0M
    C Devin Mesoraco0.4$3.2M$7.325M-$4.125M
    RP Tony Cingrani-0.1-$0.8M$1.825M-$2.625M

              

    Notes

    • The Reds are now three years into the ill-advised six-year, $105 million extension they gave Homer Bailey. He's made just 31 starts in those three years, including a grand total of eight with a 6.29 ERA the past two campaigns.
    • Now that he's seemingly settled into a role at the back of the bullpen, the seven-year, $27 million deal that Raisel Iglesias signed in 2014 is looking like a terrific bargain. He has a plus-$2.186 million net value for the upcoming season and could provide more than that if he's closing. 
    • Joey Votto will earn $25 million per season from 2018 to 2023, but he'll still be a positive value if he maintains his current level of production.

24. Boston Red Sox (2016 Rank: 21)

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    SP Chris Sale /
    SP Chris Sale /Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $196 million (4th in MLB)

             

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • RF Mookie Betts
    • LF Andrew Benintendi
    • SP Steven Wright

    Others: SP Eduardo Rodriguez, RP Carson Smith, RP Matt Barnes, RP Heath Hembree, C Christian Vazquez, C Blake Swihart

                

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Chris Sale5.6$44.8M$12.0M$32.8M
    SS Xander Bogaerts3.3$26.4M$4.5M$21.9M
    CF Jackie Bradley Jr.2.9$23.2M$3.6M$19.6M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    3B Pablo Sandoval0.4$3.2M$17.6M-$14.4M
    DH Hanley Ramirez1.7$13.6M$22.75M-$9.15M
    RP Craig Kimbrel0.7$5.6M$13.25M-$7.65M

              

    Notes

    • With a plus-$32.8 million net value, Chris Sale trails only Corey Kluber (+$35.5M) for the title of league's most valuable pitcher. The next few seasons will tell if the Red Sox will regret parting with Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, though.
    • Mookie Betts is as good as it gets for a pre-arbitration player as he posted a 9.6 WAR last season while earning $566,000. That's good for a plus-$76.234 million net value.
    • Only three years and $54.8 million left on the Pablo Sandoval contract. He has a clear path to the everyday third base job, so we'll see if he can do some damage control with a bounce-back season.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers (2016 Rank: 20)

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    SP Kenta Maeda /
    SP Kenta Maeda /Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $240 million (1st in MLB)

             

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SS Corey Seager
    • CF Joc Pederson
    • SP Julio Urias

    Others: RP Pedro Baez, OF Trayce Thompson, OF Andrew Toles, RP Grant Dayton, C Austin Barnes

              

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Kenta Maeda3.5$28.0M$3.0M$25.0M
    C Yasmani Grandal2.7$21.6M$5.5M$16.1M
    SP Clayton Kershaw6.4$51.2M$35.571M$15.629M

              

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RF Andre Ethier0.2$1.6M$17.5M-$15.9M
    1B Adrian Gonzalez1.7$13.6M$22.357M-$8.757M
    SP Brandon McCarthy0.8$6.4M$11.5M-$5.1M

              

    Notes

    • Kenta Maeda's value is a bit deceiving. He has a $3 million base salary, but his contract is loaded with incentives. He ended up earning an extra $7.25 million last season with games-started and innings-pitched milestones. He's still a bargain, just not quite as good of one as it might look on the surface.
    • Andre Ethier has a $17.5 million vesting option for 2018. He'll need to make 1,074 plate appearances this coming season for it to vest, though, so it's a safe bet his contract will come off the books.
    • That trio of Corey Seager, Joc Pederson and Julio Urias has a chance to be as good as any group of pre-arbitration players in baseball this coming season. They're projected for a combined 9.6 zWAR and likely won't earn more than $2 million.

22. Chicago White Sox (2016 Rank: 14)

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    SP Jose Quintana /
    SP Jose Quintana /Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $83 million (26th in MLB)

                   

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Carlos Rodon
    • SS Tim Anderson
    • IF Carlos Sanchez

    Others: C Omar Narvaez, CF Charlie Tilson, RP Michael Ynoa

           

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Jose Quintana4.4$35.2M$7.0M$28.2M
    3B Todd Frazier2.6$20.8M$12.0M$8.8M
    1B Jose Abreu2.3$18.4M$10.825M$7.575M

              

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    LF Melky Cabrera0.7$5.6M$15.0M-$9.4M
    RP David Robertson0.9$7.2M$12.0M-$4.8M
    DH Avisail Garcia-0.2-$1.6M$3.0M-$4.6M

            

    Notes

    • There's a reason so many teams are interested in Jose Quintana and the asking price is so high. The standout left-hander will earn $7 million this season and $8.5 million in 2018. Then he has a pair of $10.5 million options.
    • James Shields has a minus-$12.2 million net value on his $21 million salary. The White Sox are only paying $10 million of that, though, as the Padres are on the hook for the other $11 million.
    • Chris Sale (+$38.05M) and Adam Eaton (+$22.85M) were first and third in projected net value last season and line up as strong values again for 2017, which was why the team was able to bring back such an impressive prospect haul for those two.

21. Atlanta Braves (2016 Rank: 26)

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    CF Ender Inciarte /
    CF Ender Inciarte /Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $120 million (19th in MLB)

            

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SS Dansby Swanson
    • SP Mike Foltynewicz
    • RP Mauricio Cabrera

    Others: IF Jace Peterson, 3B Adonis Garcia

            

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    CF Ender Inciarte2.5$20.0M$2.7M$17.3M
    SP Julio Teheran2.8$22.4M$6.467M$15.933M
    1B Freddie Freeman3.7$29.6M$20.859M$8.741M

             

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RF Matt Kemp0.0$0M$15.75M-$15.75M
    RF Nick Markakis0.5$4.0M$11.0M-$7.0M
    RP Jim Johnson0.4$3.2M$5.0M-$1.8M

             

    Notes

    • Matt Kemp has a minus-$21.75 million net value for the 2017 season. However, the Dodgers ($3.5 million) and Padres ($2.5 million) are still paying part of his salary, so he doesn't project to be quite as big of an overall drain on the Braves.
    • The Reds will pay $13 million of Brandon Phillips' $14 million salary this coming season, making him a plus-$4.6 million net value for the Braves with a 0.7 zWAR.
    • Freddie Freeman was the second-best value on the Braves last season (+$15.641M), but he slides down the list with his salary jumping up from $12.359 million to $20.859 million.

20. Texas Rangers (2016 Rank: 15)

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    C Jonathan Lucroy /
    C Jonathan Lucroy /Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $172 million (7th in MLB)

            

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 2B Rougned Odor
    • LF Nomar Mazara
    • RP Matt Bush

    Others: RP Keone Kela, OF Delino DeShields

          

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    C Jonathan Lucroy3.2$25.6M$5.25M$20.35M
    SP Yu Darvish3.2$25.6M$11.0M$14.6M
    3B Adrian Beltre3.3$26.4M$18.0M$8.4M

            

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RF Shin-Soo Choo1.1$8.8M$20.0M-$11.2M
    DH Josh Hamilton-0.2-$1.6M$2.55M-$4.15M
    SS Elvis Andrus1.5$12.0M$15.25M-$3.25M

             

    Notes

    • Prince Fielder won't play again, but technically he's on the 60-day DL and still counts against the Rangers from a payroll standpoint. The team will pay $9 million of his $24 million annual salary through 2020, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Insurance pays another $9 million, and the Tigers are on the hook for the remaining $6 million.
    • The Josh Hamilton contract situation is even more convoluted. The Angels are paying $26.41 million of his $28.41 million salary this coming season, and the Rangers are on the hook for the remaining $2 million. However, he was released and then re-signed as a non-roster invitee, so his actual salary will be the league minimum (around $550,000) if he makes the team, plus the $2 million the Rangers already owe.
    • Yu Darvish will earn $11 million in the final year of his contract, and as long as he doesn't experience any further arm issues, he's headed for a substantial raise next offseason. Jonathan Lucroy will also be a free agent, and both players are potential extension candidates.

19. Minnesota Twins (2016 Rank: 18)

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    2B Brian Dozier /
    2B Brian Dozier /Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $95 million (23rd in MLB)

            

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 3B Miguel Sano
    • CF Byron Buxton
    • RF Max Kepler

    Others: LF Eddie Rosario, SS Jorge Polanco, RP Trevor May, OF Robbie Grossman, DH Kennys Vargas, SP Jose Berrios

            

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    2B Brian Dozier3.7$29.6M$6.0M$23.6M
    SP Kyle Gibson1.8$14.4M$2.9M$11.5M
    1B Byungho Park1.3$10.4M$2.75M$7.65M

              

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    1B Joe Mauer0.7$5.6M$23.0M-$17.4M
    RP Glen Perkins0.5$4.0M$6.5M-$2.5M
    RP Brandon Kintzler0.1$0.8M$2.925M-$2.125M

                    

    Notes

    • With two years and $15 million remaining on Brian Dozier's contract, it's easy to see why the Twins placed such a high asking price on him this offseason. His 3.7 zWAR projection is the second-highest total among second basemen, trailing only Jose Altuve (5.1).
    • The ZiPS projection system seems to think Byungho Park will turn things around in his second year stateside. Being designated off the 40-man roster and clearing waivers was probably not a good first step on the comeback trail.
    • Only two more years of paying Joe Mauer a hefty $23 million for the Twins. He's the highest-paid player on this year's team by nearly $10 million and accounts for nearly 25 percent of the total payroll.

18. Oakland Athletics (2016 Rank: 17)

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    SP Sonny Gray /
    SP Sonny Gray /Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $80 million (27th in MLB)

          

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SS Marcus Semien
    • SP Sean Manaea
    • 3B Ryon Healy

    Others: SP Kendall Graveman, RP Ryan Dull, C Josh Phegley, 1B/OF Mark Canha, SP Jharel Cotton

              

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Sonny Gray2.5$20.0M$3.575M$16.425M
    C Stephen Vogt1.9$15.2M$2.965M$12.235M
    RP Liam Hendriks1.3$10.4M$1.1M$9.3M

               

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RP Ryan Madson0.3$2.4M$7.5M-$5.1M
    RP John Axford0.1$0.8M$5.5M-$4.7M
    2B Jed Lowrie0.3$2.4M$6.5M-$4.1M

             

    Notes

    • Will Sonny Gray rebound from a disappointing 2016? ZiPS seems to think so, and it won't take much for him to be a positive value with a $3.575 million salary.
    • Reliever Liam Hendriks is a surprise here with a 1.3 zWAR and plus-$9.3 million net value. The 28-year-old tallied 10 holds with a 3.76 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 9.9 K/9 in 53 appearances for a 0.6 WAR last season.
    • Gray is the only projected rotation member who is not pre-arbitration, as Sean Manaea, Kendall Graveman, Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs are all still making the minimum. Plenty of room for significant value.

17. Baltimore Orioles (2016 Rank: 24)

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    3B Manny Machado /
    3B Manny Machado /Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $165 million (8th in MLB)

             

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Dylan Bundy
    • RP Mychal Givens
    • OF Joey Rickard

    Others: RP Donnie Hart, 1B Trey Mancini, SP/RP Logan Verrett

            

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    3B Manny Machado5.6$44.8M$11.5M$33.3M
    SP Kevin Gausman3.4$27.2M$3.45M$23.75M
    2B Jonathan Schoop1.9$15.2M$3.475M$11.725M

             

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SS J.J. Hardy1.0$8.0M$14.0M-$6.0M
    RP Darren O'Day0.6$4.8M$7.0M-$2.2M
    RF Mark Trumbo1.2$9.6M$11.5M-$1.9M

            

    Notes

    • The Orioles should probably enjoy Manny Machado while they can, especially at a ridiculously reasonable $11.5 million. He has one more year of arbitration remaining before hitting the open market, where he could command a record contract.
    • Kevin Gausman will earn $3.45 million in his first year of arbitration, and he looks like the O's best bet of having a legitimate front-line starter this coming season. He's shown flashes and could be ready for a big step forward.
    • Anybody else surprised to not see Ubaldo Jimenez among the worst values? He has a minus-$1.5 million net value in the final season of a four-year, $50 million deal.

16. Los Angeles Angels (Previous: 19)

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    CF Mike Trout /
    CF Mike Trout /Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $162 million (11th in MLB)

                

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Tyler Skaggs
    • RP Cam Bedrosian
    • 1B C.J. Cron

    Others: C Carlos Perez, RP JC Ramirez, RP Jose Alvarez

            

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    CF Mike Trout8.0$64.0M$20.083M$43.917M
    SP Matt Shoemaker2.7$21.6M$3.325M$18.275M
    RF Kole Calhoun2.7$21.6M$6.0M$15.6M

             

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    1B Albert Pujols1.0$8.0M$26.0M-$18.0M
    RP Huston Street0.2$1.6M$9.0M-$7.4M
    LF Cameron Maybin0.8$6.4M$9.0M-$2.6M

             

    Notes

    • This is the final season where Mike Trout will be a true bargain as his salary will jump to $34.083 million next year. For now, he still has the best net value in baseball by $7.805 million over Jose Altuve.
    • Andrelton Simmons (+$15.057M) had the highest net value of any shortstop last season at plus-$23.457 million, but he dropped out the team's top three this year. To put it simply, his offensive shortcomings continue to undermine his elite defense, and his salary continues to climb.
    • Offseason additions...The good: Jesse Chavez (+$8.65M), Luis Valbuena (+$4.7M), Danny Espinosa (+$0.175M). The bad: Cameron Maybin (-$2.6M), Ben Revere (-$1.6M).

15. Kansas City Royals (2016 Rank: 11)

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    SP Danny Duffy /
    SP Danny Duffy /Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $144 million (15th in MLB)

             

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • RP Matt Strahm
    • OF Paulo Orlando
    • 3B Cheslor Cuthbert

    Others: IF Christian Colon, IF Whit Merrifield, RP Scott Alexander

             

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Danny Duffy2.8$22.4M$5.0M$17.4M
    C Salvador Perez2.7$21.6M$4.2M$17.4M
    CF Lorenzo Cain2.7$21.6M$11.0M$10.6M

               

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RP Joakim Soria0.3$2.4M$8.0M-$5.6M
    DH Brandon Moss-0.1-$0.8M$3.75M-$4.55M
    1B Eric Hosmer1.0$8.0M$12.25M-$4.25M

               

    Notes

    • The 1.0 zWAR for Eric Hosmer might seem conservative on the surface, but that's exactly what he put up last season when he posted a .761 OPS with 25 home runs and 104 RBI. Perhaps he'll be motivated by a contract year.
    • Jason Hammel (+$7.0M) just missed cracking the best values after signing a two-year, $16 million deal, while fellow Cubs castoffs Travis Wood (-$0.8M) and Jorge Soler (-$2.867M) didn't grade out as well.
    • The Royals don't have any truly awful contracts on the books, but they're also sorely lacking in cheap, pre-arbitration talent as the homegrown pipeline has run dry.

14. San Francisco Giants (2016 Rank: 12)

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    SP Madison Bumgarner /
    SP Madison Bumgarner /Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $186 million (5th in MLB)

              

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 2B Joe Panik
    • RP Derek Law
    • RP Hunter Strickland

    Others: LF Jarrett Parker, OF Mac Williamson, RP Steven Okert

           

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Madison Bumgarner 5.1$40.8M$11.7M$29.1M
    SS Brandon Crawford3.5$28.0M$8.2M$19.8M
    1B Brandon Belt2.8$22.4M$8.8M$13.6M

              

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Matt Cain0.6$4.8M$20.833M-$16.033M
    RP Mark Melancon 0.9$7.2M$14.0M-$6.8M
    RF Hunter Pence1.9$15.2M$18.5M-$3.3M

              

    Notes

    • The Giants will gladly take Mark Melancon as a minus-$6.8 million net value to shore up the back of what was a leaky bullpen a year ago. His four-year, $62 million deal was tame compared to the money given to Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen.
    • Few teams have been better at striking early extensions with key players than the Giants. The best of the bunch being the five-year, $35 million deal that Madison Bumgarner agreed to at the onset of his career, which will wind up being an seven-year, $59 million deal once both options are exercised.
    • It's the final year of Matt Cain's massive six-year, $127.5 million extension. The first season of the deal was fine, but he's produced a minus-0.8 WAR and made a total of 73 starts over the past four campaigns.

13. Colorado Rockies (2016 Rank: 23)

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    3B Nolan Arenado /
    3B Nolan Arenado /Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $126 million (16th in MLB)

            

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Jon Gray
    • SS Trevor Story
    • LF David Dahl

    Others: SP Tyler Anderson, SP Chad Bettis, C Tony Wolters, C Tom Murphy, SP Jeff Hoffman

                   

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    3B Nolan Arenado4.7$37.6M$11.75M$25.85M
    CF Charlie Blackmon2.8$22.4M$7.3M$15.1M
    2B DJ LeMahieu1.8$14.4M$4.8M$9.6M

               

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    OF Gerardo Parra-0.3-$2.4M$8.0M-$10.4M
    IF Alexi Amarista-0.9-$7.2M$1.1M-$8.3M
    RP Jason Motte-0.2-$1.6M$5.0M-$6.6M

             

    Notes

    • Ian Desmond (+$1.6M) projects as a modest value this coming season with an $8 million salary. That spikes to an unsightly $22 million in 2018, though, so he could be ticketed for the top of the worst value list next time around.
    • The Rockies bought out two years of arbitration from Nolan Arenado for $29.5 million, and he'll still have one more year of eligibility in 2019 before reaching free agency. Expect the team to make every effort to lock him up on a long-term deal before then.
    • The three-year, $27.5 million contract given to Gerardo Parra looked like a mistake at the time, and after one year and a disastrous minus-2.8 WAR, nothing has changed.

12. New York Mets (2016 Rank: 6)

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    SP Jacob deGrom /
    SP Jacob deGrom /Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $154 million (13th in MLB)

              

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Noah Syndergaard
    • SP Steven Matz
    • OF Michael Conforto

    Others: SP Robert Gsellman, SP Seth Lugo, RP Hansel Robles, IF T.J. Rivera

                

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Jacob deGrom3.7$29.6M$4.05M$25.55M
    SP Matt Harvey2.5$20.0M$5.125M$14.825M
    SP Zack Wheeler1.1$8.8M$0.8M$8.0M

               

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    3B David Wright0.7$5.6M$20.0M-$14.4M
    RF Jay Bruce0.5$4.0M$13.0M-$9.0M
    RP Jerry Blevins0.4$3.2M$5.5M-$2.3M

              

    Notes

    • David Wright has played just 75 total games the past two seasons as he continues to deal with spinal stenosis, and he'll have a tough time living up to his $20 million contract. The 34-year-old is still on the books for $67 million over the next four seasons.
    • The massive four-year, $110 million extension given to Yoenis Cespedes was a move the Mets had to make, but will it provide positive value? His plus-$3.9 million net value for 2017 is a nice start.
    • Noah Syndergaard has the highest zWAR of any pre-arbitration pitcher at 5.5, which ranks fourth among all starting hurlers, trailing only Clayton Kershaw (6.5), Max Scherzer (5.8) and Chris Sale (5.6).

11. Washington Nationals (2016 Rank: 13)

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    SP Max Scherzer /
    SP Max Scherzer /Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $164 million (9th in MLB)

              

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SS Trea Turner
    • SP Joe Ross
    • RP Blake Treinen

    Others: RP Sammy Solis, 1B Clint Robinson, OF Michael Taylor, RP Trevor Gott, RP Enny Romero

                 

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Max Scherzer5.8$46.4M$22.143M$24.257M
    RF Bryce Harper4.4$35.2M$13.625M$21.575M
    3B Anthony Rendon3.3$26.4M$5.8M$20.6M

                 

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    LF Jayson Werth-0.4-$3.2M$21.57M-$24.77M
    1B Ryan Zimmerman-0.5-$4.0M$14.0M-$18.0M
    RP Oliver Perez0.3$2.4M$4.0M-$1.6M

                 

    Notes

    • Only Clayton Kershaw (6.4) has a higher zWAR among pitchers than Max Scherzer (5.8). His salary jumps from $22.143 million the next two seasons to $37.406 million in 2019, but for the time being, he's still a relative bargain.
    • Jayson Werth (0.3) and Ryan Zimmerman (-1.1) combined for a minus-0.8 WAR last season, and ZiPS doesn't see either of them righting the ship. Werth is a free agent next winter, but Zimmerman is still on the books for $46 million over the next three years.
    • Trea Turner (3.5 zWAR) and Joe Ross (2.5 zWAR) are two of the better pre-arbitration players around, and they're both capable of taking a big step forward this coming season. That should help offset some of the extreme negative value of Werth and Zimmerman.

10. Toronto Blue Jays (2016 Rank: 7)

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    3B Josh Donaldson /
    3B Josh Donaldson /Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $163 million (10th in MLB)

             

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Aaron Sanchez
    • RP Roberto Osuna
    • CF Kevin Pillar

    Others: 2B Devon Travis, RP Joe Biagini

               

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    3B Josh Donaldson6.3$50.4M$17.0M$33.4M
    SP Marcus Stroman2.6$20.8M$3.4M$17.4M
    SP J.A. Happ2.4$19.2M$13.0M$6.2M

                 

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    LF Melvin Upton Jr.0.1$0.8M$5.0M-$4.2M
    1B Justin Smoak0.2$1.6M$4.125M-$2.525M
    RP Jason Grilli0.3$2.4M$3.0M-$0.6M

              

    Notes

    • Melvin Upton Jr. would have been an even worse value had it not been for the fact that the Padres are paying $11.45 million of his $16.45 million salary during the upcoming season.
    • The 6.3 zWAR for Josh Donaldson is second only to Mike Trout (8.0) among position players, and he still has one year of arbitration remaining after getting a nice raise from $11.65 million to $17 million this season.
    • Jason Grilli, J.P. Howell and Joe Smith actually tied for the No. 3 worst value spot as all three players had a 0.3 zWAR and $3 million salary for the upcoming campaign. Adding Howell and Smith was a necessity for the inexperienced bullpen, though.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks (2016 Rank: 9)

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    1B Paul Goldschmidt /
    1B Paul Goldschmidt /Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $90 million (25th in MLB)

              

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 3B Jake Lamb
    • SP Robbie Ray
    • RF David Peralta

    Others: 2B Brandon Drury, IF Nick Ahmed, RP Jake Barrett, RP Andrew Chafin

               

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    1B Paul Goldschmidt 4.2$33.6M$8.875M$24.725M
    CF A.J. Pollock2.9$23.2M$6.75M$16.45M
    SP Taijuan Walker1.8$14.4M$2.25M$12.15M

              

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    LF Yasmany Tomas0.0$0M$9.5M-$9.5M
    SP Zack Greinke 3.1$24.8M$33.571M-$8.771M
    IF Daniel Descalso -0.3-$2.4M$1.35M-$3.75M

              

    Notes

    • ZiPS is bullish on both Taijuan Walker (1.8 zWAR, +$12.15M) and Shelby Miller (2.1 zWAR, +$12.1M), and if they can perform at that level alongside Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, the rotation should be in good shape.
    • Yasmany Tomas had a breakout season offensively with an .820 OPS and 31 home runs, but his value is dragged down by his brutal outfield defense (-16 DRS, -16.6 UZR/150).
    • That five-year, $32.05 million extension that Paul Goldschmidt signed looks like one of the best decisions in D-backs franchise history. He'll make $8.875 million this season, $11.1 million next year and has a $14.5 million option for 2019.

8. Seattle Mariners (2016 Rank: 16)

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    3B Kyle Seager /
    3B Kyle Seager /Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $155 million (12th in MLB)

             

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • RP Edwin Diaz
    • C Mike Zunino
    • 1B Dan Vogelbach

    Others: LF Mitch Haniger, RP Dan Altavilla

             

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    3B Kyle Seager4.2$33.6M$11.0M$22.6M
    SP Drew Smyly2.5$20.0M$6.85M$13.15M
    SP James Paxton1.9$15.2M$2.35M$12.85M

            

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RP Marc Rzepczynski0.2$1.6M$5.5M-$3.9M
    SP Felix Hernandez2.9$23.2M$26.857M-$3.657M
    SP Yovani Gallardo0.6$7.2M$9.0M-$1.8M

             

    Notes

    • Yovani Gallardo would climb up a spot on the worst values' list if not for the fact that the Orioles will pay $2 million of his $11 million salary. It's easy to forget how good he was prior to last season, and he could exceed that 0.6 zWAR.
    • Felix Hernandez (-$3.657M) and Robinson Cano (+$4.8M) account for $50.857 million of the team's $155 million payroll, and similar to Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera with the Detroit Tigers, they are by no means overpaid.
    • I'm a big believer in James Paxton this season after he quietly posted a 2.80 FIP that ranked fourth among pitchers with at least 120 innings of work. As long as he stays healthy, he could push toward $20 million-plus in net value.

7. St. Louis Cardinals (2016 Rank: 10)

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    SP Carlos Martinez /
    SP Carlos Martinez /Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $149 million (14th in MLB)

            

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • RF Stephen Piscotty
    • LF Randal Grichuk
    • RP Matt Bowman

    Others: IF Greg Garcia, OF Tommy Pham, RP Miguel Socolovich

             

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Carlos Martinez3.3$26.4M$4.5M$21.9M
    SS Aledmys Diaz2.1$16.8M$2.5M$14.3M
    2B Kolten Wong1.8$14.4M$2.5M$11.9M

             

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RP Trevor Rosenthal0.5$4.0M$6.4M-$2.4M
    RP Jonathan Broxton0.2$1.6M$3.75M-$2.15M
    SP Adam Wainwright2.3$18.4M$19.5M-$1.1M

              

    Notes

    • Zach Duke would have taken the No. 3 spot on the worst values' list with a minus-$1.5 million net value, but he was excluded from this exercise since he's out for the season following Tommy John surgery.
    • The Cardinals gave Carlos Martinez a five-year, $51 million contract this offseason, a record for a player entering his first year of arbitration. He's already taken over as the ace of the staff and still has plenty of room to improve entering his age-25 season.
    • Consecutive 40-save campaigns inflated the arbitration cost of Trevor Rosenthal, and he's now overpaid for a middle reliever. There's still enough potential in his power stuff to make paying him his $6.4 million salary a relatively easy decision, though.

6. Miami Marlins (2016 Rank: 4)

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    LF Christian Yelich /
    LF Christian Yelich /Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $115 million (20th in MLB)

            

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • C J.T. Realmuto
    • SP Adam Conley
    • RP Kyle Barraclough

    Others: SP Dan Straily, 1B Justin Bour, RP Jose Urena, IF Miguel Rojas

             

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    CF Christian Yelich3.1$24.8M$3.5M$21.3M
    RF Giancarlo Stanton3.2$25.6M$14.5M$11.1M
    LF Marcell Ozuna1.8$14.4M$3.5M$10.9M

                

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RP Brad Ziegler0.2$1.6M$7.0M-$5.4M
    OF Ichiro Suzuki-0.2-$1.6M$2.0M-$3.6M
    RP David Phelps0.2$1.6M$4.6M-$3.0M

                

    Notes

    • Christian Yelich gets my vote for most underrated player in baseball, and he quietly has one of the best contracts around with an incredibly reasonable $61.75 million coming his way over the next six years.
    • New additions Jeff Locke (+$3.375M) and Edinson Volquez (+$2.2M) project as positive values, while fellow newcomers Brad Ziegler (-$5.4M) and Junichi Tazawa (-$0.2M) didn't grade out quite as well.
    • The 0.2 zWAR for David Phelps was one of the biggest surprises of all the ZiPS projections. He posted a 2.28 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 114 strikeouts in 86.2 innings last season for a 2.6 WAR and figures to be a key piece of the relief corps once again.

5. Tampa Bay Rays (2016 Rank: 5)

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    SP Chris Archer /
    SP Chris Archer /Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $65 million (29th in MLB)

            

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • RP Alex Colome
    • RF Steven Souza
    • SS Matt Duffy

    Others: SP Blake Snell, SP Matt Andriese, C Curt Casali

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Chris Archer4.4$35.2M$5.917M$29.283M
    CF Kevin Kiermaier3.9$31.2M$2.975M$28.225M
    SP Jake Odorizzi3.0$24.0M$4.1M$19.9M

               

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RP Erasmo Ramirez-0.2-$1.6M$3.125M-$4.725M
    1B Logan Morrison0.1$0.8M$2.5M-$1.7M
    RP Danny Farquhar0.3$2.4M$0.9M$1.5M

            

    Notes

    • Aside from the significant positive net value of both Chris Archer (+$29.283M) and Jake Odorizzi (+$19.9M), the Rays also have a pair of potential standout pre-arbitration arms in Matt Andriese (2.7 zWAR) and Blake Snell (2.3 zWAR).
    • The negative zWAR for Erasmo Ramirez is surprising as he was a valuable multi-inning guy last season with a 3.77 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 90.2 innings over 63 relief appearances and one start for a 0.9 WAR.
    • Colby Rasmus (+$4.6M) and Wilson Ramos (+$12.8M) were the big offseason additions as they'll earn a combined $9 million and should provide some nice support to Evan Longoria (+$14.833M) in the middle of the lineup.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (2016 Rank: 2)

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    CF Starling Marte /
    CF Starling Marte /Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $102 million (22nd in MLB)

             

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SP Jameson Taillon
    • 1B Josh Bell
    • RP Felipe Rivero

    Others: SP Tyler Glasnow, SP Chad Kuhl, IF Alen Hanson, OF Adam Frazier

                      

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    CF Starling Marte3.5$28.0M$5.333M$22.667M
    SP Gerrit Cole3.3$26.4M$3.75M$22.65M
    3B Jung Ho Kang2.7$21.6M$2.75M$18.85M

            

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RP Jared Hughes-0.3-$2.4M$2.825M-$5.225M
    RP Antonio Bastardo0.4$3.2M$6.625M-$3.425M
    RP Daniel Hudson0.4$3.2M$5.5M-$2.3M

            

    Notes

    • After a breakout season in 2015, Gerrit Cole took a step back last season and posted a 1.6 WAR while missing time with a rib injury. ZiPS likes his chances of bouncing back with a 3.3 zWAR, which would make him one of the league's most valuable pitchers.
    • Andrew McCutchen is still in Pittsburgh after an offseason of trade rumors, though he's set to shift from center field to right field. With a 4.0 zWAR, he carries a plus-$17.792 million net value in what could be his final season with the Pirates.
    • The Pirates managed to re-sign Ivan Nova to a three-year, $26 million deal, and he projects for a plus-$5.133 million net value in his first season of that team-friendly deal.

3. Chicago Cubs (2016 Rank: 8)

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    1B Anthony Rizzo /
    1B Anthony Rizzo /Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $176 million (6th in MLB)

              

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • 3B Kris Bryant
    • SS Addison Russell
    • SP Kyle Hendricks

    Others: 2B Javier Baez, LF Kyle Schwarber, C Willson Contreras, RP Mike Montgomery, RP Carl Edwards Jr., IF Tommy La Stella

             

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    1B Anthony Rizzo4.8$38.4M$7.286M$31.114M
    SP Jake Arrieta4.0$32.0M$15.638M$16.362M
    SP Jon Lester4.2$33.6M$25.0M$8.6M

            

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    C Miguel Montero0.6$4.8M$14.0M-$9.2M
    RF Jason Heyward2.3$18.4M$24.0M-$5.6M
    CF Jon Jay0.4$3.2M$8.0M-$4.8M

            

    Notes

    • That crop of pre-arbitration talent negates anything in the way of bad-value contracts that the Cubs have on the books. And really, outside of paying Miguel Montero a hefty $14 million to serve as the backup catcher, there's not a truly "bad" contract.
    • Yes, that includes the Jason Heyward deal. Even in the worst offensive season of his career, he was a 1.5-WAR player, thanks to his glove. Prior to that, he posted back-to-back 6.0-plus-WAR seasons and has nowhere to go but up offensively as he's set to retool his swing.
    • Wade Davis (-$1.2M), Koji Uehara (-$0.4M) and Jon Jay (-$4.8M) are not projected to be positive values, but they filled glaring needs on the roster.

2. Houston Astros (2016 Rank: 1)

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    2B Jose Altuve /
    2B Jose Altuve /Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $125 million (17th in MLB)

             

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SS Carlos Correa
    • 3B Alex Bregman
    • SP Lance McCullers

    Others: RP Ken Giles, RP Chris Devenski, RP Michael Feliz, SP Joe Musgrove

             

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    2B Jose Altuve5.1$40.8M$4.688M$36.112M
    SP Collin McHugh3.4$27.2M$3.85M$23.35M
    RF George Springer3.1$24.8M$3.9M$20.9M

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    DH Carlos Beltran1.0$8.0M$16.0M-$8.0M
    1B Yulieski Gurriel1.4$11.2M$14.0M-$2.8M
    RP Tony Sipp0.4$3.2M$6.0M-$2.8M

              

    Notes

    • There was a grand total of 34 players who checked in with a net value of $20 million or greater, and the Astros were the only club with four as Dallas Keuchel (+$20.45M) joined the three guys listed above.
    • Collin McHugh might have been the biggest surprise of that $20 million club as his 3.4 zWAR was ahead of guys like Gerrit Cole (3.3), Carlos Martinez (3.3), Yu Darvish (3.2), Cole Hamels (3.0), Felix Hernandez (2.9) and Julio Teheran (2.8).
    • The Yankees will pay $5.5 million of Brian McCann's $17 million salary, leaving him with a plus-$6.1 million net for the Astros.

1. Cleveland Indians (2016 Rank: 3)

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    SP Corey Kluber /
    SP Corey Kluber /Pool/Getty Images

    Projected 2017 Payroll: $125 million (17th in MLB)

              

    Notable Pre-Arbitration Players

    • SS Francisco Lindor
    • 3B Jose Ramirez
    • CF Tyler Naquin

    Others: C Carlos Perez, SP Mike Clevinger, RP Hoby Milner

                

    3 Best Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Corey Kluber5.4$43.2M$7.7M$35.5M
    SP Carlos Carrasco4.0$32.0M$6.5M$25.5M
    SP Danny Salazar3.4$27.2M$3.4M$23.8M

               

    3 Worst Values

    Player2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    RP Boone Logan0.4$3.2M$5.5M-$2.3M
    RP Bryan Shaw0.4$3.2M$4.6M-$1.4M
    RP Cody Allen1.0$8.0M$7.35M$0.65M

              

    Notes

    • Corey Kluber was something of a late bloomer with his breakout season coming at the age of 28, and that cut into his earning power. That's good news for the Indians, as his team-friendly $7.7 million salary this coming season gives him the highest net value of any pitcher at plus-$35.5 million.
    • Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million deal in free agency and projects for a plus-$6.133 million net value, thanks to the backloaded nature of that team-record deal.
    • The Indians had 18 players eligible for inclusion among the best and worst values, so the fact that they only have two players with negative net values and neither is of any significance is awfully impressive.

The 2017 Pre-Arbitration Team

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    3B Kris Bryant /
    3B Kris Bryant /Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Here's a look at the best pre-arbitration players, based on zWAR projections:

    Starting Lineup2017 WARValue
    C Gary Sanchez, NYY3.4$27.2M
    1B Josh Bell, PIT1.1$8.8M
    2B Devon Travis, TOR2.5$20.0M
    3B Kris Bryant, CHC5.8$46.4M
    SS Carlos Correa, HOU5.7$45.6M
    LF Andrew Benintendi, BOS2.1$16.8M
    CF Byron Buxton, MIN3.0$28.0M
    RF Mookie Betts, BOS5.7$45.6M
    DH Francisco Lindor, CLE5.3$42.4M
    Pitching Staff2017 WARValue
    SP Noah Syndergaard, NYM5.5$44.0M
    SP Aaron Nola, PHI3.9$31.2M
    SP Kyle Hendricks, CHC3.6$28.8M
    SP Robbie Ray, ARI3.6$28.8M
    SP Aaron Sanchez, TOR3.6$28.8M
    RP Edwin Diaz, SEA1.7$13.6M

    This group is projected for a combined zWAR of 56.5.

The 2017 All-Value Team

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    Bryce Harper /
    Bryce Harper /Matthew Hazlett/Getty Images

    And here's a look at the best values at each position—the All-Value team, if you will:

    Starting Lineup2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    C Jonathan Lucroy, TEX3.2$25.6M$5.25M$20.35M
    1B Anthony Rizzo, CHC4.8$38.4M$7.286M$31.114M
    2B Jose Altuve, HOU5.1$40.8M$4.688M$36.112M
    3B Josh Donaldson, TOR6.3$50.4M$17.0M$33.4M
    SS Xander Bogaerts, BOS3.3$26.4M$4.5M$21.9M
    LF Starling Marte, PIT3.5$28.0M$5.333M$22.667M
    CF Mike Trout, LAA8.0$64.0M$20.083M$43.917M
    RF Bryce Harper, WAS4.4$35.2M$13.625M$21.575M
    DH Manny Machado, BAL5.6$44.8M$11.5M$33.3M
    Pitching Staff2017 WARValue2017 SalaryNet Value
    SP Corey Kluber, CLE5.4$43.2M$7.7M$35.5M
    SP Chris Sale, BOS5.6$44.8M$12.0M$32.8M
    SP Chris Archer, TB4.4$35.2M$5.917M$29.283M
    SP Madison Bumgarner, SF5.1$40.8M$11.7M$29.1M
    SP Jose Quintana, CWS4.4$35.2M$7.0M$28.2M
    RP Dellin Betances, NYY2.0$16.0M$3.0M$13.0M

    This group will cost a total of $136.582 million in 2017 and is projected for a combined zWAR of 71.1, giving it a plus-$432.218 million net value.

    A total of 34 players checked in with a net value over plus-$20 million, down from 48 a year ago:

    C (1): Jonathan Lucroy (+$20.35M)

    1B (2): Anthony Rizzo (+$31.114M), Paul Goldschmidt (+$24.725M)

    2B (2): Jose Altuve (+$36.112M), Brian Dozier (+$23.6M)

    3B (5): Josh Donaldson (+$33.4M), Manny Machado (+$33.3M), Nolan Arenado (+$25.85M), Kyle Seager (+$22.6M), Anthony Rendon (+$20.6M)

    SS (1): Xander Bogaerts (+$21.9M)

    LF (0): N/A

    CF (5): Mike Trout (+$43.917M), Kevin Kiermaier (+$28.225), Starling Marte (+$22.667M), Odubel Herrera (+$22.4M), Christian Yelich (+$21.3M)

    RF (2): Bryce Harper (+$21.575M), George Springer (+$20.9M)

    RHSP (12): Corey Kluber (+$35.5M), Chris Archer (+$29.283M), Jacob deGrom (+$25.55M), Carlos Carrasco (+$25.5M), Kenta Maeda (+$25.0M), Max Scherzer (+$24.257), Danny Salazar (+$23.8M), Kevin Gausman (+$23.75M), Collin McHugh (+$23.35M), Gerrit Cole (+$22.65M), Carlos Martinez (+$21.9M), Michael Pineda (+$20.6M)

    LHSP (4): Chris Sale (+$32.8M), Madison Bumgarner (+$29.1M), Jose Quintana (+$28.2M), Dallas Keuchel (+$20.45M)

                         

    All stats and previous WAR totals courtesy of Baseball Reference

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