Each MLB Team's Most Overpaid and Underpaid Player

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2019

Each MLB Team's Most Overpaid and Underpaid Player

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Every MLB franchise, from the perennial big spenders to the game's budget-conscious small-market squads, wants to get the most bang for its buck.

    At the same time, all teams are saddled with albatross contracts alongside steal-of-a-deal pacts. With that in mind, let's examine each club's most overpaid and underpaid player. A couple of notes:

    • We focused primarily on 2018 production and 2019 pay, and used MLB Trade Rumors' projections (via Baseball Reference) in the case of arbitration-eligible players.
    • We weighed dollars and stats, obviously, but added a healthy dollop of subjectivity. This isn't a direct cash-to-WAR calculation.
    • Players who have yet to reach arbitration weren't considered since their salaries are dictated by the system and not front-office decisions.
    • Players who have retired or been traded or released didn't factor in.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Overpaid: OF Yasmany Tomas, $15.5 million

    Yasmany Tomas didn't play a big league game in 2018 and slashed .262/.280/.465 for the Arizona Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate.

    Despite that, he'll earn $15.5 million from the Snakes in 2019 even if he again doesn't log an inning at the highest level.

    The six-year, $68.5 million contract the Snakes gave Tomas in December 2014 is looking worse and worse, especially as Arizona slides into a rebuild-retool.

       

    Underpaid: LHP Robbie Ray, $6.1 million projected

    Robbie Ray's ERA ballooned from 2.89 in 2017 to 3.93 in 2018, but the 27-year-old southpaw averaged 12 strikeouts per nine innings and will be a key piece of the Diamondbacks rotation or an enticing wheel-and-deal chip in 2019.

    He's projected to make $6.1 million in his second year of arbitration, which makes him an absolute steal for Arizona and increases his trade value.

Atlanta Braves

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    Overpaid: 3B Josh Donaldson, $23 million

    The Atlanta Braves rolled the dice when they gave Josh Donaldson a one-year, $23 million deal. It could pan out if Donaldson turns back the clock and plays like the guy who won American League MVP honors in 2015.

    On the other hand, he's been limited by injuries the past two seasons and played just 52 games in 2018. He's entering his age-33 season, not typically a time when players experience career renaissances. The up-and-coming Braves had money to spend and wanted a veteran to anchor their young lineup, but this is a serious gamble with a lot of cash riding on it.

       

    Underpaid: OF Ender Inciarte, $5.7 million

    Ender Inciarte is entering the third year of a five-year, $30.5 million extension that includes a $9 million team option for 2022.

    The Braves got more than their money's worth in 2018, as Inciarte stole 28 bases, tallied 43 extra-base hits and won a third straight Gold Glove in center field. Better still, he turned 28 in October and is in the midst of his prime.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Overpaid: 1B Chris Davis, $23 million

    After hitting 47 home runs in 2015 for the Baltimore Orioles, Chris Davis landed a seven-year, $161 million deal. To say it hasn't gone well is the mother of all understatements.

    Davis' production has tailed off since then, and he hit a new low in 2018 with a .168/.243/.296 slash line. Even his power dried up, as he hit just 16 home runs in 128 games. He's owed $23 million annually through 2022, but the O's might be forced to release him before then and simply pay him to stay home.

       

    Underpaid: RHP Mychal Givens, $2 million projected

    Mychal Givens was a useful reliever in 2018, as he averaged 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings over 76.2 frames with a 3.07 FIP and notched nine saves.

    The 28-year-old is entering his first year of arbitration, and he's projected to get an affordable $2 million. With so many relievers on the market, the rebuilding Orioles probably won't trade him this offseason, but he could be an attractive chip at the July non-waiver deadline.

Boston Red Sox

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    Overpaid: RHP Rick Porcello, $21.1 million

    Rick Porcello won 17 games for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox in 2018. He also posted a 4.28 ERA and his highest walk rate (2.3 per nine innings) since 2011.

    He'll make $21.1 million in the final year of a four-year, $82.5 million contract. He turned 30 in December and hasn't posted a sub-4.00 ERA since his 2016 AL Cy Young Award campaign.

    He's an innings-eating, mid-rotation arm getting ace money.

       

    Underpaid: LHP Chris Sale, $15 million

    Despite some shoulder issues, Chris Sale was his usual dominant self in 2018. He posted a 2.11 ERA, averaged a career-best 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings and finished fourth in AL Cy Young Award voting.

    He's entering the final season of an incredibly team-friendly seven-year, $59 million pact he signed with the Chicago White Sox.

    Assuming his shoulder troubles don't flare up again, he'll once again be a bat-missing bargain for the defending champs.

Chicago Cubs

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    Overpaid: RHP Yu Darvish, $20 million

    Last offseason, Yu Darvish inked a six-year, $126 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. In his first season on the North Side, Darvish posted a 4.95 ERA in eight starts and missed the rest of the season with triceps and elbow injuries.

    Ouch.

    The 32-year-old could bounce back in 2019. The Cubs are certainly crossing their fingers he'll do exactly that. At this point, though, he's got albatross written all over him.

       

    Underpaid: INF Javier Baez, $7.1 million projected

    Javier Baez took the jump to superstardom in 2018. The versatile 26-year-old logged significant innings at second base, shortstop and third base. He also hit 34 home runs, tallied 111 RBI, stole 21 bases and finished second in National League MVP voting.

    He's projected to earn $7.1 million in his first year of arbitration. If he keeps producing like he did last season, he won't be that affordable for long.

Chicago White Sox

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    Overpaid: C Welington Castillo, $7.3 million

    The Chicago White Sox don't have much money committed for 2019 and beyond and thus don't have many large salaries on the books.

    That said, they probably regret the two-year, $15 million deal they gave catcher Welington Castillo last offseason. Castillo served an 80-game performance-enhancing drugs suspension and, when he did play, posted a ho-hum .259/.304/.406 slash line.

    He's also entering his age-32 season, suggesting a bounce-back is unlikely.

       

    Underpaid: INF Carlos Sanchez, $4.7 million projected

    Carlos Sanchez put together another solid, under-the-radar season for the ChiSox in 2018. The 26-year-old put in work at third base, second base and shortstop, collected 52 extra-base hits and stole 14 bases.

    He's projected to earn $4.7 million in arbitration. While he doesn't boast the glamor or prospect pedigree of some of the White Sox's other up-and-comers, he's again poised to provide tremendous value.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Overpaid: OF Matt Kemp, $21.8 million

    The Cincinnati Reds shipped a bad contract to the Los Angeles Dodgers when they traded Homer Bailey and the remainder of his six-year, $105 million extension. They took back another overpaid player, however, in outfielder Matt Kemp along with outfielder Yasiel Puig and left-hander Alex Wood.

    Kemp wasn't terrible in 2018; he hit .290 with 21 home runs. But his OPS tumbled from .874 prior to the All-Star break to .719 in the second half. He's 34 years old, clearly on the downslope of his career. His contract will come off the books after 2019, but it's still an odd look for a club that's likely a year or more away from contention in a tough division.

       

    Underpaid: 3B Eugenio Suarez, $7.3 million

    In March 2018, the Reds inked third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a seven-year, $66 million extension. He rewarded them with career bests in batting average (.283), RBI (104), home runs (34) and OPS (.892).

    He's a pillar of Cincinnati's accelerating rebuild. If he continues producing at his '18 level, he'll also be one of the best bargains in the game.

Cleveland Indians

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    Overpaid: 2B Jason Kipnis, $14.7 million

    Jason Kipnis turned in a second consecutive subpar season for the Cleveland Indians in 2018, posting a career-worst .230 batting average and a ho-hum .704 OPS.

    He'll turn 32 in April as he enters the final year of a six-year, $52.5 million contract that isn't looking so good on the back end for the budget-conscious Tribe.

       

    Underpaid: 3B Jose Ramirez, $4.2 million

    Is there a better contract (from a team's standpoint) than the five-year, $26 million extension the Indians gave Jose Ramirez in March 2017?

    Ramirez will earn $4.2 million in 2019 after hitting 39 home runs with 105 RBI and a .939 OPS and finishing third in AL MVP voting.

    There are steals, and then there's highway robbery.

Colorado Rockies

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    Overpaid: INF/OF Ian Desmond, $15 million

    In the second year of a five-year, $70 million deal, Ian Desmond slashed .236/.307/.422 for the Colorado Rockies.

    That's bad for anyone but especially for a guy who plays half his games in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field.

    Desmond turned 33 in September and is on the books through 2021. Don't expect things to get much better.

       

    Underpaid: SS Trevor Story, $6.4 million projected

    After a stellar rookie campaign in 2016 and regression in 2017, Trevor Story established himself last season. The 26-year-old posted career highs in home runs (37), batting average (.291), RBI (108) and OPS (.914) with capable defense at shortstop.

    He's projected to earn $6.4 million in arbitration and is a prime candidate for a long-term extension if he and the Rockies are so inclined.

Detroit Tigers

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    Overpaid: 1B Miguel Cabrera, $30 million

    Miguel Cabrera is an MLB legend and probably a future Hall of Famer. He's also an impending payroll nightmare for the rebuilding Detroit Tigers.

    Cabrera will earn $30 million in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and $32 million in 2022 and 2023. He'll turn 36 in April and was limited by injuries to 38 games in 2018.

    Tigers fans will always have the memories, but this is about to get ugly.

       

    Underpaid: RHP Michael Fulmer, $3 million projected

    This may seem like an odd choice after Michael Fulmer posted a 4.69 ERA in 132.1 shaky innings in 2018. Recall, though, the 25-year-old was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2016 and an All-Star in 2017.

    Given his age and track record, a comeback is more than plausible. If he engineers one, the $3 million he's projected to make in arbitration will be a pittance.

Houston Astros

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    Overpaid: OF Josh Reddick, $13 million

    The Houston Astros don't have any horrific contracts, but Josh Reddick is certainly overpaid after hitting .242 with a .318 on-base percentage and .718 OPS last season.

    The 31-year-old is owed another $13 million in 2020 to wrap up a four-year, $52 million deal but could soon be supplanted in the Astros outfield by top prospect Kyle Tucker.

       

    Underpaid: 2B Jose Altuve, $9.5 million

    Jose Altuve is about to get a lot more expensive. He'll earn $29 million in 2020 and the same amount every season through 2024 as part of a five-year, $151 million extension he signed in March 2018.

    The 'Stros will get him at a bargain rate of $9.5 million in 2019 as they seek to regain their status as alpha dogs in the AL.

    Altuve didn't win a third straight batting title in 2018, but he did hit .316 with an .837 OPS and 17 steals while making his sixth career All-Star appearance.

Kansas City Royals

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Overpaid: OF Alex Gordon, $20 million

    As the Kansas City Royals embark on an overdue rebuild, they'll have to drag along Alex Gordon and his $20 million salary.

    A relic of the Royals 2014-15 glory days, Gordon hit .245 with a .694 OPS in 2018 and rendered himself virtually untradable, even if the Royals were willing to swallow a large portion of cash.

    He'll turn 35 in February. The best news for the Royals is that they can buy him out for $4 million next offseason and say farewell.

       

    Underpaid: C Salvador Perez, $11.2 million

    We're stretching the definition of underpaid, admittedly, but the Royals don't have many post-arbitration bargains on their roster.

    That said, Salvador Perez managed 27 home runs and 80 RBI for a second straight season in 2018 and won his fifth Gold Glove for his work behind the dish.

    Like Gordon, he's a holdover from the Royals' recent run of success, but he's making almost half as much money and could provide veteran leadership as he plays out a five-year, $52.5 million extension that runs through 2021.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Overpaid: 1B Albert Pujols, $28 million

    Like Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols is a legend whose bust will someday reside in Cooperstown. Also like Cabrera, his contract is ugly and getting uglier.

    Pujols will earn $28 million in 2019, $29 million in 2020 and $30 million in 2021 as he finishes up a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

    He's also entering his age-39 season and slashed .245/.289/.411 in 2018. Brace yourselves, Halos faithful. It's not going to get better.

       

    Underpaid: SS Andrelton Simmons, $13 million

    Andrelton Simmons didn't get a lot of fanfare on a mediocre team, but he posted career highs in batting average (.292), on-base percentage (.337) and OPS (.754). He also won a fourth Gold Glove for his exemplary defense and snagged stray AL MVP votes.

    He'll make $13 million in the penultimate year of a seven-year, $58 million pact he signed with the Braves, which is looking quite nice on the back end.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Overpaid: RHP Kenley Jansen, $19.3 million

    Credit the big-spending Los Angeles Dodgers and executive Andrew Friedman for not having any atrocious contracts on the roster. If we're forced to pick, however, we'll single out Kenley Jansen.

    Jansen remains one of the game's best closers. But the 31-year-old posted a suspect 4.03 FIP in 2018 and surrendered a career-high 1.6 home runs per nine innings. Yes, we're picking nits. But those are red flags for a relief pitcher who will earn $19.3 million in 2019, $18 million in 2020 and $20 million in 2021 as he finishes a five-year, $80 million deal.

       

    Underpaid: SS Corey Seager, $2.6 million projected

    After missing most of the 2018 season to Tommy John surgery, Corey Seager is poised to return to the field in 2019.

    Surgery comebacks are never a sure thing, but it's a good bet the 24-year-old shortstop will continue the production that helped him to an All-Star appearance and NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2016 and a second All-Star nod in 2017.

    He's projected to earn $2.6 million in arbitration. For one of the game's most exciting young talents just entering his prime, the Dodgers will take it and smile.

Miami Marlins

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    Overpaid: LHP Wei-Yin Chen, $20 million

    The Miami Marlins are in the business of shedding salary, but they won't be shedding Wei-Yin Chen any time soon.

    The 33-year-old posted a 4.79 ERA and a career-worst 3.2 walks per nine innings in 2018 and is owed $20 million in 2019 and $22 million in 2020 to conclude an ill-advised five-year, $80 million deal.

    Sorry, Fish. You're caught on this contract...hook, line and sinker.

       

    Underpaid: C J.T. Realmuto, $6.1 million projected

    Catcher J.T. Realmuto has churned through the rumor mill this offseason and could be dealt by Miami. If it chooses to keep him, he'll be a significant bargain.

    The 27-year-old posted an .825 OPS with 21 home runs in 2018 and emerged as one of the best catchers in baseball. He's controllable through 2020 and is projected to make $6.1 million in his second year of arbitration.

    The Marlins can afford to wait for a gaudy offer, which could come this offseason or at the 2019 non-waiver deadline.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Overpaid: OF Ryan Braun, $19 million

    Ryan Braun will make $19 million in year four of a five-year, $105 million extension with the Milwaukee Brewers. He contributed to the Brew Crew's 2018 National League Central title and run to the National League Championship Series.

    Yet his .254/.313/.469 slash line doesn't jump off the stat sheet, and he turned 35 in November. Braun has a role on this team as a veteran with postseason experience and an extensive resume, but his sky-high salary is unquestionably hampering cost-conscious Milwaukee.

       

    Underpaid: RHP Jeremy Jeffress, $3.2 million

    An All-Star in 2018, Jeremy Jeffress saved 15 games for Milwaukee while posting a 1.29 ERA with 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings over 76.2 frames.

    He's owed $3.2 million in 2019 and the Brewers could exercise a $4.3 million club option for 2020. If Jeffress approaches last season's numbers, it's a safe bet they will.

Minnesota Twins

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    Overpaid: C Jason Castro, $8 million

    The Minnesota Twins don't have a lot of money to throw around, yet they're hoping to compete in the weak American League Central.

    So it hurts that they'll allocate $8 million to catcher Jason Castro in the final year of a three-year, $24.5 million deal.

    Castro played just 19 games in 2018 before undergoing season-ending knee surgery. In those 19 games, he hit .143. He'll turn 32 in June. Enough said.

       

    Underpaid: OF Eddie Rosario, $5 million projected

    Even as the Twins sunk from playoff qualifiers in 2017 to a sub-.500 squad in 2018, Eddie Rosario continued his ascent.

    After breaking out in '17, Rosario hit .288 with 24 home runs and an .803 OPS and was a significant bright spot for the Twinkies.

    He's projected to earn $5 million in arbitration and, at age 27, could increase his already solid production.

New York Mets

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    Overpaid: 2B Robinson Cano, $24 million

    The New York Mets signaled their intent to go for it in 2019 when they acquired second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners. Both players should make them better next season. Cano, however, comes with serious monetary baggage.

    The 36-year-old is owed $24 million every season through 2023. He produced in 2018 to the tune of a .303 average and .845 OPS, but he's entering his late 30s. A decline is imminent.

    Clearly the Mets want to double down and make a run in the deep National League East. That's their prerogative, but the Cano contract is going to bite them eventually.

       

    Underpaid: Jacob deGrom, $12.9 million projected

    Jacob deGrom is projected to make $12.9 million in his second year of arbitration. That's a lot of coin for most of us, but it's chump change for the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.

    In 2018, deGrom paced baseball with a 1.70 ERA, struck out 269 hitters in 217 innings and finished fifth in NL MVP voting.

    If Mets fans want a reason for optimism next season, it begins with deGrom's right arm.

New York Yankees

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    Overpaid: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, $21.1 million

    The New York Yankees will pay Jacoby Ellsbury $21.1 million in 2019 to be a fourth outfielder at best. Then they'll pay him the same amount in 2020, as they wind down a seven-year, $153 million contract.

    Ellsbury hit like a fourth outfielder in 2017 with a .264 average and .750 OPS, but he missed all of 2018 because of injuries. He turned 35 in September. He might contribute, but there's essentially zero chance he'll live up to the dollars he's earning.

       

    Underpaid: RHP Luis Severino, $5.1 million projected

    Yes, Luis Severino has had his ups and downs. He's an ace-level arm when he's right, however, and will be a key cog in the Yankees' 2019 starting rotation.

    Despite his hiccups, Severino posted a 3.39 ERA in 2018 with 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings. And his 2.95 FIP suggested a degree of bad luck.

    Either way, the $5.1 million he's projected to get in arbitration represents a bottom-shelf bargain for New York.

Oakland Athletics

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    Overpaid: RHP Fernando Rodney, $5.3 million

    The tiny-market Oakland Athletics aren't known for backing up the Brink's truck and have to spend their dollars wisely.

    It hurts, therefore, that they'll pay $5.3 million to Fernando Rodney next season. The veteran reliever posted a suspect 4.03 FIP last season between Minnesota and Oakland and will turn 42 in March.

    He won't kill Oakland's chances of repeating last year's surprise playoff appearance, but his salary doesn't help.

       

    Underpaid: RHP Blake Treinen, $5.8 million projected

    Blake Treinen posted a 0.78 ERA in 80.1 innings for the A's in 2018. He saved 38 games and averaged 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings. The fact that he finished only sixth in AL Cy Young Award voting feels like a snub.

    Meanwhile, he's set to earn $5.8 million in arbitration, which could make him one of the most ludicrously affordable late-innings arms if he can come close to replicating last season's performance.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Overpaid: RHP Jake Arrieta, $25 million

    The Philadelphia Phillies are trying to make the leap from up-and-comer to contender. A veteran arm such as Jake Arrieta should help them in that quest.

    They've also got payroll flexibility, which means the $25 million they owe Arrieta in 2019 and the $20 million they owe him in 2020 won't necessarily prevent significant signings.

    Still, it must be said: $25 million for a pitcher who posted a 4.26 FIP and is entering his age-33 season seems like a lot. We all remember Arrieta's brilliant 2015 NL Cy Young Award season with the Cubs, but those days are probably over.

       

    Underpaid: RHP Aaron Nola, $6.6 million projected

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, Aaron Nola busted out in 2018 with a 2.37 ERA and 224 strikeouts in 212.1 innings and finished third in NL Cy Young Award balloting.

    The 25-year-old is projected to make $6.6 million in arbitration, so Phillies fans can simply average out his and Arrieta's contracts if they want to take the glass-half-full approach.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Overpaid: C Francisco Cervelli, $11.5 million

    The Pittsburgh Pirates don't have an overpaid player on their roster relative to the rest of the league. Yet their highest-paid player in 2019 is an aging catcher, which is an odd look for a penny-pinching franchise straddling the line between retooling and rebuilding.

    Granted, Francisco Cervelli posted an .809 OPS in 104 games in 2018. He has value and could be an interesting trade piece for the Bucs if they find a taker.

    He'll turn 33 in March, however, and at $11.5 million, he's a luxury Pittsburgh literally can't afford.

       

    Underpaid: RHP Keone Kela, $3.2 million projected

    Keone Kela came over from the Texas Rangers in a trade last season and posted a 2.93 ERA in 16 games for the Pirates. Overall, the right-handed reliever averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings and nailed down 24 saves, all of them for Texas.

    Kela will turn 26 in April and is projected to make $3.2 million in arbitration. He'll slot behind closer Felipe Vazquez and could help form one of the most potent late-innings tandems in the NL.

San Diego Padres

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    Overpaid: 1B Eric Hosmer, $21 million

    The San Diego Padres stepped outside the rebuilding box last offseason and signed first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million deal. In year one, Hosmer hit .253 with a .720 OPS and was largely a disappointment.

    He could rebound. He's only 29 years old and has championship-level experience from his days with the Royals, which could benefit the Pads' emerging core.

    For now, though, this seems like money the Friars should have allocated elsewhere.

       

    Underpaid: RHP Kirby Yates, $3 million projected

    Kirby Yates posted a 2.14 ERA in 2018 with 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings and assumed closing duties after the Padres traded Brad Hand prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

    He should be the ninth-inning guy in 2019 and is projected to earn $3 million in arbitration.

    For those keeping score at home, that's a closer for middle-reliever money.

San Francisco Giants

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    Overpaid: RHP Johnny Cueto, $21.8 million

    Johnny Cueto pitched only 53 innings for the San Francisco Giants in 2018 before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. He'll turn 33 in February and might miss the entire 2019 season.

    No matter what, he'll earn $21.8 million next season and the same figure in 2020 and 2021. When he's right, he's one of the most interesting, frequently brilliant hurlers in baseball. But his age and injury set off all sorts of warning lights.

       

    Underpaid: LHP Will Smith, $4.1 million projected

    If the Giants and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi initiate a sell-off late this offseason or at the non-waiver deadline, Will Smith will be among their most valuable pieces.

    Smith posted a 2.07 FIP in 2018 while striking out 12.1 per nine innings and notching 14 saves. He's projected to make $4.1 million in arbitration, which will either make him a bargain for San Francisco or an enticing, cost-controlled bit of trade bait.

Seattle Mariners

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    Overpaid: RHP Felix Hernandez, $27.9 million

    Once upon a time, Felix Hernandez was a king for the Seattle Mariners. Those days, sadly, are over.

    Hernandez posted a career-worst 5.55 ERA in 2018 while matching his career low with 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

    His 2010 AL Cy Young Award and six career All-Star appearances will forever be a part of Seattle lore. At this point, though, he's merely limping through the final season of a seven-year, $175 million deal.

       

    Underpaid: OF Domingo Santana, $2 million projected

    In 2017, Domingo Santana hit 30 home runs and stole 15 bases for the Brewers and appeared to be a star in the making.

    Last season, he crashed to earth and was sent to the minors. Then, the Brewers traded him to the Mariners in December.

    There's reason for optimism, however: Santana's hard contact rate of 40.1 percent was above his career average of 38.5 percent, per FanGraphs. It's possible a change of scenery and a chance to play for a team in pseudo-rebuild mode will rekindle Santana's skills and make the $2 million he's projected to earn via arbitration look like a steal.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Overpaid: OF Dexter Fowler, $16.5 million

    Dexter Fowler will earn $16.5 million from the St. Louis Cardinals in 2019, 2020 and 2021. He's entering his age-33 season and hit .180 in 90 games in an injury-plagued 2018.

    He's a noted clubhouse leader and seems like a guy who could soon slot into a managerial position if he wanted to.

    At this point, however, his dollars-to-stats ratio is seriously harming the Cards.

       

    Underpaid: RHP Miles Mikolas, $8 million

    It's been a cool, winding journey for right hander Miles Mikolas, from toiling in the Japanese league to dominating in MLB.

    Last season, Mikolas finished 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 200.2 innings, and he'll look to repeat his success in 2019. If he can, the $8 million St. Louis owes him in the second year of a two-year, $15.5 million deal will seem like couch-cushion coin.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Overpaid: OF Kevin Kiermaier, $8.2 million

    Kevin Kiermaier has long been a favorite of the defense-minded crowd, who argue value doesn't come from the bat alone.

    Indeed, Kiermaier has snagged a pair of Gold Gloves with the Tampa Bay Rays and annually rates as one of the best defensive center fielders in the game by any metric.

    That said, the Rays are always on a tight budget. Kiermaier is their second-highest-paid player. And last season, he posted career lows in batting average (.217), on-base percentage (.282) and slugging percentage (.370). There's a point where even the glitziest glove can't make up for an anemic bat, and Kiermaier may have reached it.

       

    Underpaid: OF Tommy Pham, $4 million projected

    Tommy Pham hit .343 with a 1.071 OPS in 39 games for the Rays last season after coming over in a trade with the Cardinals. Suffice it to say, he made an impression.

    Overall, Pham hit .275 with 21 home runs and 15 steals, and he should be a key cog in Tampa Bay's 2019 lineup. And with a projected $4 million arbitration price tag, the price is right for the small-market Rays.

Texas Rangers

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    Overpaid: DH/OF Shin-Soo Choo, $21 million

    Shin-Soo Choo enjoyed something of a bounce-back with the Texas Rangers in 2018, as he hit 21 home runs with an .810 OPS.

    On the other hand, he's entering his age-36 season and is a bad fit on a team that should be looking toward a rebuild.

    If Texas is willing to swallow some of the $42 million remaining on Choo's contract, it might be able to move him. But his age and defensive limitations make that unlikely.

       

    Underpaid: OF Nomar Mazara, $3.7 million projected

    Nomar Mazara posted his third consecutive 20-homer season in 2018 while driving in 77 runs and putting up a respectable .753 OPS.

    He'll turn 24 in April and could be on the verge of reaching the next level offensively. The fact that it will only cost the Rangers a projected $3.7 million to see what's in store for Mazara is decidedly good news in Arlington, whether they choose to keep or trade him.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Overpaid: C Russell Martin, $20 million

    The Toronto Blue Jays should look toward a rebuild in the top-heavy American League East, in which the Red Sox and Yankees are gaining serious separation.

    That said, they'll have to suck it up and pay veteran catcher Russell Martin $20 million in what should be his swan-song season north of the border.

    Russell has done great things in a Jays uniform, but he'll turn 36 in February and hit .194 in 90 injury-marred games in 2018.

       

    Underpaid: OF Randal Grichuk, $4.8 million projected

    Randal Grichuk has his limitations, as evidenced by the subpar .301 on-base percentage he posted in 2018. At the same time, the 27-year-old hit 25 home runs with an .803 OPS.

    He's projected to make $4.8 million in arbitration, a tidy bargain for a team that should be trimming salary and preparing for a future anchored by top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Washington Nationals

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    Overpaid: 1B Ryan Zimmerman, $18 million

    After a comeback in 2017, Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman was limited by injury to 85 games in 2018. He's 34 years old. The permanent decline may be upon us.

    Zimmerman has been a National for the entirety of his MLB career. The Nats will pay him $18 million in 2019 and have an $18 million option for 2020. Unless Zimmerman bests Father Time in a big way, it's tough to imagine Washington exercising it.

       

    Underpaid: LHP Sean Doolittle, $6 million

    Left-hander Sean Doolittle anchored the Nationals bullpen in 2018 with a 1.60 ERA, 25 saves, 12 strikeouts per nine innings and an All-Star nod.

    He'll earn $6 million next season on a team option that was probably the Nats' easiest offseason decision. Now, they just have to see about that Bryce Harper guy.

       

    All statistics and contract information courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.