Cost of a Win and Win Above Replacement
Why the distinction?
A "win" is not equivalent to a "win above replacement". These are very different things. A replacement level team, composed of 25 players is valued at approximately 48-52 wins depending on league. So a replacement level player has a win value associated with them.
A single WIN ABOVE REPLACEMENT is defined as the wins generated BEYOND that initial 1.92-2.08 wins/replacement player.
So using 2013's salaries and win totals (this number is always the same unless new teams or more games are added).
Total salaries in 2013: $3,187,568,088
Total wins: 2,430
Replacement level wins: 1,500 (this assumes 50 wins from replacement for each team)
Above replacement wins: 930
$/WIN: $1,311,756.41 (as established yesterday; this doesn't take into account WAR)
What does this mean? If we're judging talent, and surplus value between markets (trade/FA) and internal options, we can place a value on a players production of approximately $3.43 million/ WAR they produce.
Juan Lagares is projected (at 2.7 WAR (not wins). His value at this level is $9,254,229.7. He will be paid around $400,000.
Jacoby Ellsbury is projected at 5.2 WAR. His value at this level is $17,822,961.
*Projections by steamer
But we can't stop there because as we know the competition in the free agent market drives UP the cost of WAR. So acquiring free agent talent will often cost MORE than their actual dollar value. Simple supply/demand economics at play. Easy to understand.
So, let's assume Jacoby is to be had on a 1 year deal, and we know he'll generate 5.2 WAR. Using 6$/WAR in free agency (average of 5 and 7), he would be expected to make $31.2 million. (I'm using a single year to simplify things for this discussion - multi-year deals obviously lower the value on a per year basis but let's KISS for now).
Jacoby is actually being paid $13.4 million MORE than his actually $/WAR value. That's the cost of FA. That's the lesson here.
If you have the money, and you really need the WAR, then by all means spend the extra money to get it. But it's not cheap.