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Off Season Outlook -- Free Agents
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Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Off Season Outlook -- Free Agents (part 2)

This has blossomed into a series. To read the first parts visit these links:
Off Season Outlook -- Pitchers
Off Season Outlook -- Position Players
Off Season Outlook -- Free Agents

I had intended to just leave the free agent topic a little vague, at least until after the World Series. But today, while doing some catching up on reading I may have missed on the internet, I came across this article over at Baseball Prospectus.

The article, entitled Predicting Future Salaries, gives a simple mathematical model to help determine the salaries of free agents. It's a good read, and I suggest you check it out. For those of you who are lazy link clickers (of which I am one), the meat of the article can be summed up by this one sentence.
A player's salary in the first year of a new contract after filing for free agency is generally equal to about .94 * (player's salary last year) + $17,500 * (VORP last year).

Taking that information, and combining with my prospective free agent list that I posted yesterday, I arrived at this. The first column is this years salary, second column is the players VORP from 2004, and the final column is thier expected salary, based on the model.
Player              2004 $    VORP  Expected$

Pedro Martinez 17.50 51.2 $17.35
Carl Pavano 3.80 62.4 $4.66
Brad Radke 10.75 60.1 $11.16
Derek Lowe 4.50 -11.5 $4.03
Paul Byrd 7.00 16.2 $6.86
Russ Ortiz 6.20 33.1 $6.41
Matt Clement 6.00 36.9 $6.29
Jaret Wright 0.85 40.3 $1.50
Chris Carpenter 0.50 41.6 $1.20
Jose Lima 0.95 28.0 $1.38
Odalis Perez 5.00 49.7 $5.57
David Wells 1.25 40.3 $1.88
Wilson Alvarez 1.50 21.0 $1.78
Placido Polanco 3.95 33.0 $4.29
Jeff Kent 9.52 52.1 $9.86
Edgar Renteria 7.25 26.5 $7.28
Nomar Garciaparra 11.50 29.7 $11.33
Mark Bellhorn 0.49 39.1 $1.14
Orlando Cabrera 6.00 15.2 $5.91
Omar Vizquel 6.25 35.5 $6.50
Todd Walker 1.75 27.0 $2.12
Eric Young 1.00 12.8 $1.16
Gabe Kapler 0.75 1.9 $0.74
Todd Hollandswort 1.00 17.1 $1.24
JD Drew 4.25 79.6 $5.39
Carlos Beltran 9.00 68.5 $9.66
Steve Finley 7.00 37.8 $7.24
Jermaine Dye 11.66 27.7 $11.45
Ben Grieve 0.70 12.3 $0.87
Danny Bautista 4.00 11.1 $3.95
Moises Alou 9.50 55.0 $9.89
Jason Varitek 6.90 47.3 $7.31
Mike Matheny 4.00 -0.8 $3.75
Damian Miller 3.00 20.1 $3.17
Mike Redmond 0.84 3.8 $0.86
Eli Marrero 3.00 24.2 $3.24
Ardian Beltre 5.00 90.3 $6.28
Troy Glaus 10.45 21.1 $10.19
Mike Lowell 6.50 53.6 $7.05
Corey Koskie 4.50 25.7 $4.68

As is plainly obvious from the list, the sigle largest contributing factor in determining a players salary is his pay from the previous season.

The problem with the model is that while it correlates for a wide range of players, it's poor at determining the salary of a single specific player. For example, based on the model; Carl Pavano would make $4.66M next season, Brad Radke would make $11.16M next season. The reality is that Pavano will make more that the $4.66M figure, and Radke will make less than the $11.16M figure. They cancel each other out, and make the model work for a large group of players.

I was really excited when I first read the article, and thought it was some sort of magic formula. About halfway through making the list, I realized that it was really just a small manipulation on the previous years salary. Still, I think it has some value, as the estimated salaries are a good "jumping off" point to guess (because that's all you can really do) next season's salaries.

In the article it mentions that they will be taking a closer look at the FA class of '05 to "see if we can discern what its members can expect to make next year." That should be another good read, as they are much smarter than me. It takes a lot for me to admit that.

For those interested in salary to performance models, Sabernomics has a few good links:
MLB Salary Estimator -- Position Players | related article
MLB Salary Estimator -- Pitchers | related article

Just checked some of the site stats... The last person to access this site did so by searching for "Mark Buehrle and Jamie engaged". Also from today, "Twins Suck wallpaper".