The system has changed this year, with the introduction of qualifying offers for compensation purposes rather than arbitration, but the basic principle has not.
Money talks, and those conversations begin in earnest this weekend.
In most cases, when it comes to free agency, bet the over, as teams on the cusp of contention — or those desperate to get back to October — tend to get cavalier about the price tags when offseason shopping.
With qualifying offers already in place — it’s set at $13.3 million for 2013 — players have until Friday at midnight to decide whether to accept. Those who don’t will cost their next club a draft pick as compensation if they sign elsewhere.
Here’s a cross-section list based on relative market value this winter.
A perennial MVP candidate. Concerns over lingering health issues and ongoing battle with drug addiction should keep the outfielder well below the $200-million threshold.
Prediction: Brewers, five years, $125 million.
Another X-factor because of his struggles with social anxiety disorder. The right-hander still is the best starter on the open market, and that’s worth plenty.
Prediction: Angels, six years, $130 million.
The outfielder turns 30 in December, so he’s going to start losing speed over the length of this next contract. With Scott Boras as his agent, he won’t lose much money.
Prediction: Nationals, five years, $76 million.
Like your home runs with a healthy side order of strikeouts? The outfielder has power but has trouble getting on base to utilize his speed. Nice fit for Citizens Bank Park.
Prediction: Phillies, six years, $94 million.
Yankees helped raise his Q rating, but Swisher has value as a switch hitter with a discerning eye at the plate and decent pop. Good investment for teams that don’t play in October.
Prediction: Padres, four years, $48 million.