Predicting where free agents will sign and how much they will be paid is an annual tradition for MLB fans and analysts alike, and this year is no exception.
However, the basis for those contract predictions is not always clear.
Are they based on recent market trends? A specific past signing? Simply pulled out of a hat?
In the spirit of contextualizing things, we used recent contracts awarded to comparable players while factoring age, performance and position to forecast the following contracts for nine of the market's top free agents.
Not all of the comparisons were perfect, and that was addressed before making a final determination on what each player's contract will look like this offseason.
SS Marcus Semien
Player Comparison: Josh Donaldson
Contract: One-year, $23 million deal from Atlanta Braves on Nov. 26, 2018
After a five-year run in which he averaged 6.6 WAR, won an MVP award and established himself as one of the best players in baseball, Josh Donaldson had a disastrous contract year in 2018.
He played in just 52 games while nursing a nagging calf injury and hit .246 with a 119 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR.
He ended up settling for a one-year deal from the Atlanta Braves in free agency that paid him $23 million, an identical figure to what he earned in 2018 during his final year of arbitration.
That's how we'll use that contract as a projection for Marcus Semien.
The 30-year-old finished third in AL MVP voting during a breakout 2019 season in which he tallied 8.9 WAR while posting a 139 OPS+ with 43 doubles, 33 home runs, 92 RBI and 123 runs scored.
However, those numbers plummeted to a .223/.305/.374 line and 0.3 WAR during the shortened 2020 season, leaving him as one of the biggest wild cards on the free-agent market.
He earned $13 million in 2020 in his final year of arbitration, and a one-year deal at that same salary will give him an opportunity to rebuild his stock without taking a pay cut.
Contract Prediction: One year, $13 million