When it comes to free agency, only a few players a year are of the quality where they’re practically guaranteed nine-figure salaries just for showing up. Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta will receive dump trucks full of currency whether their ERA is 1.00 or 9.00 in October. For the players who don’t obviously stand out from the pack, a big playoff run is a nice tiebreaker when competing for contracts. And those games can change the projections too, with the most recent good example being Daniel Murphy, who saw his 2016 OPS ZiPS projection jump 40 points just from his postseason performance. To this end, let’s run down the free agents who have an additional financial incentive this postseason.
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals: If all you knew about this year’s free agents was their 2017 stat line, you’d expect Hosmer to earn a large payday fairly easily. He has put up an .896 OPS, his best in the majors by nearly 80 points, he’s hitting .323, and for the sabermetric set, he has put up career highs in both popular flavors of WAR. But a couple of “buts” stand out. First, Hosmer has never actually put up two league-average seasons back-to-back, let alone consecutive years at the All-Star level he has been at during his best stretches. Teams take postseason magical doings with less seriousness than they did 30 years ago, but for a first baseman looking to stand out, failing to hit a .650 OPS in your past four postseason series won’t nudge people off the fence, even noting his famous bit of baserunning against Lucas Duda.