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Projecting the biggest free-agent deals: Paying for power and pitching

J.D. Martinez had his best year in the majors in 2017. Will it help him earn a huge contract this offseason? Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports

Nothing in sports reminds me of a 1980s game show as much as Major League Baseball's free-agent period. There are no roster bonuses or misleading options that teams will never pick up, and non-guaranteed contracts for big names are exceedingly rare. When a baseball team spends $100 million, they actually spend $100 million, figuratively shouting, "No whammies, no whammies, no whammies, STOP!"

As we do every year, with the next season's ZiPS projections percolating in the digital French press, we use the respite after every World Series to project how much the top free-agent signings are worth on a performance-to-dollar basis.

I don't always agree with the computer, naturally, but sometimes the computer wins, such as with Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo last season when I refused to believe that some team wouldn't foolishly overpay him. For the record, ZiPS projected two years, $21 million. He got three and $37.5.

Players are ranked by total projected contract in ZiPS, which models both years and dollars, and in a neutral park.