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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Inside Baseball | No End In Sight To Baseball’s Messy Winter

$500 million is a complete fantasy.

Speculation is, maybe MLB doesn’t want talk of a $500 million contract, which first appeared on FanRag about Bryce Harper, who along with Manny Machado heads next year’s once-in-a-generation free-agent class (for now). Maybe they want Giancarlo Stanton to remain the record-holder, the agents suggest.

Edit: Didn’t Frazier say he wanted to stay in New York? If that was truly his preference, this would explain why the Mets got a hometown discount.

Many GMs would also tell you how smart they have become about analytics, some even aloud. But how does analytics explain a very good starting third baseman like Todd Frazier getting $17 million over two years when Frazier has been a pretty consistent three-win player in terms of WAR, which would generally suggest he is much more valuable than that, and middle relievers with not a fraction of his impact make as much or more? Is that because they are all so smart?

Jim Furtado Posted: February 11, 2018 at 09:56 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cba, free agency

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   1. JJ1986 Posted: February 11, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5623148)
If MLB is trying to convince the 2019 class not to reach free agency, then they probably should have started a little bit earlier.
   2. McCoy Posted: February 11, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5623161)
Well, they did sign the CBA with the capped lucky tax ceiling years ago. . .
   3. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: February 11, 2018 at 11:56 AM (#5623170)
Did Heymanwrite this or did he just have Boras and a few other agents write it for him? If JDM really has multiple five year/9 figure deals offered to him I think it’s time (actually we are long past time) to recognize that the agents misread the marker for their players.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 11, 2018 at 12:03 PM (#5623174)
Many GMs would also tell you how smart they have become about analytics, some even aloud. But how does analytics explain a very good starting third baseman like Todd Frazier getting $17 million over two years when Frazier has been a pretty consistent three-win player in terms of WAR, which would generally suggest he is much more valuable than that, and middle relievers with not a fraction of his impact make as much or more? Is that because they are all so smart?


They're no that smart. They're still subject to group think, like this reliever fetish. Half these guys they signed were on the waiver wire 2 years ago. Why wouldn't you go looking for the next reclamation project rather than paying up for the fleeting success of the past ones.
   5. McCoy Posted: February 11, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5623177)
Dp
   6. QLE Posted: February 11, 2018 at 12:26 PM (#5623180)
how does analytics explain a very good starting third baseman like Todd Frazier getting $17 million over two years when Frazier has been a pretty consistent three-win player in terms of WAR, which would generally suggest he is much more valuable than that


I didn't think that "GMs will base their offers on however little it takes to get the contract signed" was something that required advanced analysis.....
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 11, 2018 at 01:44 PM (#5623211)
I didn't think that "GMs will base their offers on however little it takes to get the contract signed" was something that required advanced analysis.....

The question remains, why didn't the Yankees, or somebody else, offer him 1/12.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: February 11, 2018 at 03:32 PM (#5623250)
I don't think we're seeing $500 for Harper either. I won't entirely rule out 12/$480 but I don't expect it. I suspect we will see some years paid at $40, maybe something like 3 years at $36, 3 at $38, 3 at $40 and 1-3 years at ... something ($30?) So that's 10/$372 to 12/$432 if I added those silly numbers correctly. Of course some will be signing bonus, not salary, some salary may be deferred, he might receive a 10-year post-career contract as eyeblack consultant, etc.

He will hit HR #500 on Aug 18, 2029 at Wrigley as the Cubs take on the Charlotte Craze. I hate the future.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: February 11, 2018 at 03:37 PM (#5623253)
On that theme, I was a bit surprised at how low Harper's HR total is. Just one season over 30, only one other over 25. So he's on 150 and, at his career pace, even 10 fully healthy years would put him around 450.

I should add #8 is under the assumption he has another very good year but not another 2015 ... or 2014/2016. If he has a stinker year, he might have to "settle" for 10/$300 with an opt-out after 2-3 years. If he has another 2015, we will get to see a battle between analytics and irrational exuberance.
   10. Stevey Posted: February 11, 2018 at 03:38 PM (#5623254)
If JDM really has multiple five year/9 figure deals offered to him I think it’s time (actually we are long past time) to recognize that the agents misread the marker for their players.


Maybe, but if they are all at $100M, then everyone misread the market pretty badly. Front offices are getting smarter, but guys like Martinez still get paid, and MLB has so much money they don't know what to do with it.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: February 11, 2018 at 07:59 PM (#5623316)
Did agents "misread" the market? How would we know? Boras is playing hardball, trying to get one of the teams to crack and add a 6th year at (roughly) the same AAV or to up the AAV over 5 years. He might yet win that battle of chicken (but probably not, or at least not enough to matter). Just because he leaks that he's pushing for 6/$180 doesn't mean he ever actually expected it -- but sometimes he floats ideas and next thing he knows, the local press, fans are pressuring the FO to get the deal done.

And it's not like his clients had choices. Given he was traded, JDM didn't even have to make the rather simple decision to decline the QO. Now if he declined a 5/$140 extension from the DBacks, then the market was misread but otherwise there's no need for Boras to "read the market." And reportedly, JDM has so far only been faced with the decision of which 5/$125 offer to take or to wait it out and so far he's chosen to wait it out ... a decision that doesn't seem to have cost him a penny yet. Is there some advantage to signing 2 months before spring training instead of one week?

The usual disadvantage is that the market might have moved on while he waited. But it didn't, suggesting (if anything) that Boras has correctly read (or controlled) the market. So 5/$125 was on the table in November and it's still on the table, in what way has the market been misread and in what way has that supposed misreading hurt JDM?

I'm not sure what market us fans were expecting. Two years ago, Upton hit the market, two years younger than JD and got 6/$132 that he's parlayed into 7/$150 ... taking him through age 34. JDM reportedly has two offers that take him through age 34 at a higher AAV. Two years ago, Chris Davis did manage to snooker the O's out of 7/$161 that takes him through age 36; JDM at least gets the higher AAV and might yet get his 6th year. (JDM more consistent, Davis with the monster seasons, Davis a bit more durable, WAR 26-29 works out about the same.) And Hosmer, clearly a worse hitter (or less likely to put up any big number seasons hitter), is apparently sitting on 7/$140.

Last year's FA market was pretty blah too even if it moved faster. Remember Bautista ended up signing for the QO, some people (not me) were surprised EE only got 3/$60, Ivan Nova only got 3/$26, Turner and Fowler got Cain-type deals, Trumbo got 3/$38 (and that was generous). And the JDM type player on the market was Cespedes and he got 4/$110 (taking him through age 34) which ain't that different than 5/$125 (taking him through age 34). There weren't any big starters last year but the year before we saw Cueto (a better pitcher) and Zimmermann (a more durable pitcher) sign very similar deals to what Darvish just signed.

You can argue the FA market of the last couple of years has been stagnant for everybody but relievers -- which, sure, is a break with historic increases and a bad sign for players given the increase in revenues -- but this isn't a major drop. The biggest shift is possibly an increased reluctance to take on the age 35-36 seasons -- that change may form the crux of any collusion case that might (but probably won't) emerge.

Teams may have finally learned to avoid obvious blunders like Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder. Maybe they've learned that just because Alfonso Soriano (JD Martinez) is the best player on the market is no reason to treat him like an elite player. But they're still happy to pay big money for many years for (often short-term) quality as the offers for JDM show.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: February 11, 2018 at 08:14 PM (#5623321)
It used to be very, very standard to sign a position player FA, at least a "good" one, through age 36 (at least if that covered at least 5 years). Has that changed?

Heyward 33
Upton 33/34
Fowler 35
Turner 35
EE 36 (but just a 3-year deal)
C Davis 36
Desmond 35 (oops)
A Gordon 35
JDM 34 if 5 years
Hosmer 34 if 7 years
Reddick 33 (not sure he'd have ever gotten a longer one)

Some of that may just be the relative youth of Heyward, Upton, JDM, Hosmer as they reached FA (would anybody have ever signed Heyward for 11 years? I doubt it). It may also be that none of them are major stars except arguably Upton, so we wouldn't expect major contracts.** The tanking/BPro philosophy of "why spend if you suck" has come increasingly into play too ... and in some cases, the players have at least been able to leverage an opt-out in (lopsided) exchange for losing a year or two.

** But meanwhile, Miggy got a massive extension, Trout got a few FA years bought out at $34 per and of course Stanton was just voluntarily acquired for 10/$295 (through age 37, with opt-out, minus whatever the Marlins might have to chip in if he doesn't). There's no evidence yet that the massive stars won't make a mint over a very long period of time.

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