Value in baseball is relative. Robinson Cano, for example, is expected to contribute plenty of on-field value to the Seattle Mariners, but they're paying for every bit of it (and then some) thanks to his $240 million contract. True value comes when teams can get contributions from players that exceed the salaries the player is earning, such as Mike Trout's making approximately $1 million total in his first two years total despite being the game's best player in each of those seasons.
But Trout is an outlier, and the Angels' insanely beneficial cost/benefit position is about to change as he moves out of his cost-controlled years and into either wildly expensive arbitration years or a massive long-term contract. The Angels will still get his production, they'll just very soon be paying him considerably more to do so. If we're searching for the true king of excess value, we need an elite player who not only has been already been underpaid relative to his production, but one who is signed to a deal that will likely continue to underpay him for years to come.
As we unveil baseball's top 10 third basemen today as part of the BBTN100, we're not just pointing out that Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays is the best overall third baseman in baseball. We're noting both that he's been the most valuable player in the game over the six seasons since his debut, and that the incredibly team-friendly deals he's had with Tampa Bay make him still the best value in the game.