AI-Predicted Top 20 Free Agents for 2020

NOTE: This post consolidates my findings from position player predictions and pitcher predictions at www.baseball-pop.com into a single list of top 2020 Free Agents and predicted contract terms.

The new hurry-up-and-wait cadence of MLB Free Agency has begun for 2020, and while we may not have multiple $300M bonanzas like last year, we still have some major names and big-dollar contracts set to be signed.

To anticipate who would sign for how much, I put the problem to AI and Automated Machine Learning to help predict contract terms. With player performance data and contracts from the last 10 years to learn from, I designed AI models that identified which measures of player performance and market conditions helped predict contract terms, then built the models that most accurately told me what to expect for this off-season. There is a long list of variables that ultimately played into the projects, but they were a mix of advanced performance stats like WAR, xFIP, and WPA; market indicators like league-wide spending; player traits like age and position; as well as important non-baseball factors like who represents the player as their agent. For performance stats, I also included a mix of periods, such as prior 3-years and prior 5-years for key stats.

The results are below for the Top 20 projected contracts by Total Contract Value. Much goes as expected, with Gerrit Cole in-line for a massive $275M pay-day. As the off-season progresses, I will continually update these projections, as each deal signed offers valuable information that can be used to improve the AI.

Top 20 Free Agent Contracts for 2020

#1 Gerrit Cole Starter 29 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$274,485,114 7 $39,212,159

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

7.4 16.8  Boras Corp. 

#2 Stephen Strasburg Starter 31 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$206,065,010 6 $34,344,168

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

5.7 14  Boras Corp. 

#3 Anthony Rendon 3B 30 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$147,447,750 7 $21,063,964

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

7.0 19.9  Boras Corp. 

#4 Hyun-Jin Ryu Starter 27 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$113,541,881 5 $22,708,376

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

4.8 7.3  Boras Corp. 

#5 Josh Donaldson 3B 34 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$108,630,669 6 $18,105,112

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

4.9 11.3  MVP Spts 

#6 Jake Odorizzi Starter 30 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$85,831,512 5 $17,166,302

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

4.3 6.9  Excel 

#7 Madison Bumgarner Starter 30 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$51,978,363 3 $17,326,121

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

3.2 6.2  Legacy 

#8 Will Smith Reliever 30 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$48,409,955 4 $12,102,489

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

1.2 3.2  CAA 

#9 Zack Wheeler Starter 30 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$47,120,554 3 $15,706,851

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

4.7 9.1  Jet Spts 

#10 Nicholas Castellanos 3B 28 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$46,652,562 3 $15,550,854

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

2.8 7.3  SportsMeter 

#11 Marcell Ozuna LF 29 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$42,310,406 2 $21,155,203

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

2.6 10.4  MDR Spts 

#12 Jose Abreu 1B 33 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$30,826,025 3 $10,275,342

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

1.9 7.4  ISE 

#13 Michael Pineda Starter 31 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$27,448,562 2 $13,724,281

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

2.7 3.7  ISE 

#14 Howie Kendrick LF 36 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$20,224,974 2 $10,112,487

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

2.9 5  Reynolds Spts 

#15 Kyle Gibson Starter 32 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$20,004,229 2 $10,002,114

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

2.6 6.2  Rowley Spts 

#16 Brett Gardner LF 36 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$20,001,269 2 $10,000,634

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

3.6 10.2  Pro Star 

#17 Kole Calhoun RF 32 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$19,730,050 2 $9,865,025

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

2.5 4.6  $                                  –   

#18 Yasiel Puig RF 29 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$18,321,945 1 $18,321,945

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

1.2 5.9  Beverly Hills 

#19 Jordan Lyles Reliever 29 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$17,943,391 2 $8,971,695

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

1.6 1.9  Ballengee 

#20 Jordan Lyles Reliever 29 years 

Total Contract Value: Years: Average Annual Value:

$17,943,391 2 $8,971,695

2019 WAR 2017-2019 WAR Agent

1.6 1.9  Ballengee 

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One reply to “AI-Predicted Top 20 Free Agents for 2020”

  1. […] weeks ago, I published my first projections for this year’s free agency period. Since then, Will Smith signed a 3-year, $39M contract with a club option for a 4th year, which was […]

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