When you think about a particular year's free-agent crop, you think of the big tickets.
At some point in the future, we'll look back at this winter and judge how well the expected massive contracts for Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo worked out -- or, quite possibly, didn't. But focusing on the ever-increasing prices at the top of the market tends to overlook where the true value is found.
For teams that know where to look, there's a class of free agents primed to provide production at a fraction of the cost. We saw this last year with guys like Russell Martin, James Loney and Scott Kazmir. Each was coming off a subpar season but had a history of success, and each contributed substantially this year to a playoff team.
Can we find players who fit a similar profile on this year's market? The Cleveland Indians may have already, reportedly signing useful outfielder David Murphy to a reasonably priced two-year deal Tuesday night, hoping they'll get something more like his excellent 2012 than his down 2013.
Murphy isn't alone, however -- there are others like him.