The season itself isn't quite over, but it's never too early to peek ahead toward free agency. After all, we're just two months from free agents being able to sign with new teams. Teams are more aggressive at buying out arbitration and free-agent years for their young stars, a long-term trend that became prominent after John Hart, then-GM of the Cleveland Indians, turned the moribund Clevelanders into one of the best franchises of the 1990s.
As a result, building a team in free agency has become more difficult, with a few big stars and a whole lot of also-rans available. With only a few top-tier mercenaries available in the winter -- and this year will be no exception -- most teams will have to do some serious bargain hunting.
So, who are some of the actual bargains out there this winter that won't break the wallet? I've listed five potential bargains below based on what I see as gaps between their perceived and actual values. And for each player, I've included their (very) preliminary 2013 ZiPS projection for their current franchises/parks.
B.J. Upton, CF
2013 ZiPS: .241/.314/.426, 22 HRs, 73 RBIs, 3.2 WAR
It's kind of weird seeing Upton find his way into a bargain list, but since hitting .300/.386/.507 with 24 homers in his first full year at age 22, he's shown very little advancement in his development. (In fact, some might say he's regressed.)