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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

MLB Buzz: Trade talk, deals and rumors

I’m not a hardcore anti-Hosmer guy. In the *right deal* he could be a quality acquisition. The deals he already has on the table, however, would be past my comfort zone, if I were the guy writing the checks.

Hosmer seeking deal longer than seven years
The representatives of free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer have continuously been “pushing for a contract of more than seven years,” a source told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi on Wednesday.

Morosi also notes that with the Royals dealing Brandon Moss to the A’s earlier in the week, Kansas City became a better fit to re-sign Hosmer, and the club’s “capacity to pay him” has increased.

Hosmer, 28, reportedly has a $140 million offer on the table from the Padres and a $147 million proposal from the Royals, but he is hoping a potential suitor might reach a bit higher.

The left-handed-hitting first baseman recorded a career-best batting line of .318/.385/.498 and tied a career high with 25 homers in 2017 with Kansas City. He also played in all 162 games last season and has appeared in at least 128 games in every season of his career.

Hosmer, taken with the No. 3 overall pick by the Royals in the 2008 Draft, is a .284/.342/.439 career hitter with 127 home runs and 566 RBIs in seven big league seasons, all of which have come with Kansas City.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 31, 2018 at 05:32 PM | 94 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: free agents, rumors

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   1. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 31, 2018 at 05:42 PM (#5616818)
Mookie Betts gets $10.5M in arbitration. Red Sox had offered $7.5M.
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 31, 2018 at 05:47 PM (#5616823)
The representatives of free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer have continuously been “pushing for a contract of more than seven years,” a source told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi on Wednesday.

But yeah, it's clearly collusion.
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: January 31, 2018 at 06:19 PM (#5616835)
what freaking team would give Hosmer a 7 year deal, or a 5 year deal even? Both of those would be incredibly stupid, 4 years with a favorable player option I can see.... but a career 111 ops+ first baseman is sure as hell ain't worth a 7 year deal. (unless of course that is 7 years for 100mil total....)

4 years for 70mil would be about the maximum he should get. If he's receiving any offer better than that, he should take it. (he's the poor man's version of Bret Saberhagen of position players, who is entering his traditional down year for the first year of his contract)
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: January 31, 2018 at 06:26 PM (#5616840)
Mookie Betts gets $10.5M in arbitration. Red Sox had offered $7.5M.


Jeezus, whoever his agent is, they deserve every penny they just got..... The 7.5 seemed a bit generous for a first year arby player. 10.5 is absurd amount for a guy with his service time.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 31, 2018 at 06:27 PM (#5616841)
Hosmer, 28, reportedly has a $140 million offer on the table from the Padres and a $147 million proposal from the Royals, but he is hoping a potential suitor might reach a bit higher.

Man, he should take one of those, before they come to their senses.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: January 31, 2018 at 07:28 PM (#5616866)
Mookie Betts gets $10.5M in arbitration.

Per b-r, this brings his career earnings to more than Mookie Wilson's. :-) (not inflation-adjusted obviously)

Jeezus, whoever his agent is, they deserve every penny they just got..... The 7.5 seemed a bit generous for a first year arby player. 10.5 is absurd amount for a guy with his service time.

The world has changed. The Cubs and Bryant settled at $10.85 and he has less service time than Mookie. Betts has 24 WAR in less than 3.5 seasons. He is second among position players in WAR for 2015-17.

Now it's true that Manny Machado is almost exactly two years ahead of Betts. He had 18 WAR heading into arb, 16 over his previous three years. He got (or more likely settled at) $5 M. But Betts is two years later and 6 WAR ahead.

Trout is exactly 3 years ahead and, as part of his buyout, got $6 M. He was as far ahead of Betts as Betts is of Machado. But that's a bit misleading as his 2nd year was $16 ... all told paid $42 M over his 3 arb years so averaging about $14. We'll have to see what Mookie looks like next year but this is probably part of a progression along the lines of $10.5, $16, $22, averaging about $16.

The Red Sox bid was too low. $7.5 M was a risk and recall the arb only gets to choose between the two proposals. So all we know is the arb thought that "fair" was at least $9 M. I suspect they win at $8.5, maybe even $8 but $7.5 was about the minimum an arb was going to award a player of this caliber.

On Hosmer and contract length ... This is what you expect a young FA to go for. He's just finished his age 27 season, has another 4-5 years of his prime left. He'd like to hit the magical age 36 which was practically de rigeur over the last decade. Doesn't mean teams should give it to him but he sure doesn't want to be FA again entering his age 35 season if he can avoid it. This seems to be a situation screaming for an opt-out ... assuming some team has decided to offer 7, they don't have a lot to lose in offering him an opt-out after 4. They'll get ages 28-31, probably stuck with him for 32-34 but if he really does break out then they'll have a decision to make but probably still a pretty easy one.

It seems to me to be counter-productive to cite his career stats though. Not that it's radically different but for the last 3 years it's a 119 OPS+, including coming off a career-best 132. He's also much younger than other players of this type and so in/entering his prime so that 132 last year might well be what his current level is. Further, WAR doesn't like his defense but clearly enough baseball insiders do that he keeps winning GG.

So some teams look at Hosmer as the 3-5 WAR player he's been in his best years who, like a lot of young players, has been inconsistent but should settle now that he's in his prime. If anything, those teams think WAR under-states his value due to defense.

His "lousy" offensive performance is over-stated. Here's the comp list I've been using. Some guys turned into clunkers but for ages 23-27, he's been better than Derrek Lee and Konerko, basically as good as Grace. The level of defensive competence seems to play a pretty big role in how those guys did for ages 28-34. The better defenders (and Konerko) produced at least 14 WAR up to Grace's 26; the poor defenders (and Casey) produced 7-14. Hosmer the good defender will probably give you about 17-18 WAR over the next 7 years; Hosmer the poor defender will probably give you about 10-11. That's a $60+ M difference in projected value ... over potentially 7 years, that's obviously huge.

So Hosmer the poor defender is 4/$80-90 (depending on where you put $/WAR) while Hosmer the good defender is probably fine around 7/$140-150. Feel free to split the difference at 5/$110 or something. Or 4/$90 with a 3/$60 player option (i.e. the opt-out contract).

Don't get me wrong, even if I project him at 4 years 12 WAR followed by 3 years 6 WAR, that's not the sort of player I go out of my way for in terms of extra years/money. I don't really expect Hosmer to cliff dive at 32-33, I suspect he'll still be in the majors as somebody's mediocre 1B while they await a better option -- but I see no reason to commit my team to that. So I don't disagree with cfb but I can see how he can be viewed as worth the 7 years.

But yeah, it's clearly collusion.

a) I don't know anybody is saying it's CLEARLY collusion; b) Owners collectively switching from nearly always being willing to sign a "star" player through age 36 to only being willing to sign them through ages 33-34 would be collusion.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 31, 2018 at 07:35 PM (#5616868)
On Hosmer and contract length ... This is what you expect a young FA to go for. He's just finished his age 27 season, has another 4-5 years of his prime left. He'd like to hit the magical age 36 which was practically de rigeur over the last decade.

The problem is not his age, it's his ability.

When is history has a player that averaged 2.5 WAR over the last 4 years gotten a 7-year deal?
   8. Zach Posted: January 31, 2018 at 07:35 PM (#5616870)
Longer than seven years? Yeah, Hosmer might be getting a little greedy there.

He's basically trying to sign two free agent deals, back to back, at age 28.
   9. Zach Posted: January 31, 2018 at 07:42 PM (#5616871)
I like Hosmer, and I think his defense is closer to Gold Glove quality (he's won four) than worst in the league, as the metrics say. But there's such a thing as uncertainty in life! A lot can happen in eight years.
   10. Zach Posted: January 31, 2018 at 07:48 PM (#5616875)
Pure speculation: I wonder if Hosmer had his eyes on a $200 million deal. Nobody broke from the pack on the AAV front, so now his agents want to extend the length in order to meet the headline figure.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 31, 2018 at 07:59 PM (#5616881)
a) I don't know anybody is saying it's CLEARLY collusion

Oh, there definitely have been people here saying that over the last week or so.
   12. Rally Posted: January 31, 2018 at 08:17 PM (#5616894)
When is history has a player that averaged 2.5 WAR over the last 4 years gotten a 7-year deal?


I was thinking of Carlos Lee, but that was “only” a six year deal. And even Carlos had over 12 WAR the previous 4 seasons.
   13. Rally Posted: January 31, 2018 at 08:23 PM (#5616898)
Wayne Garland had only 4.4 WAR before signing his famous 10 year contract.

How was he a free agent anyway? He had only played 4 seasons, and 3 of those were partial years.
   14. Bruce Markusen Posted: January 31, 2018 at 08:43 PM (#5616909)
Garland played the 1976 season without signing his contract. That made him a free agent in the same way as McNally and Messersmith had become free agents after the 1975 season.

Most of the players in that first full free agent class (winter of 1976-77) became free agents because they had accrued six years of service time and their contracts had expired. Garland was one of the few who used the old Messersmith/McNally loophole to become a free agent, even though he did not have the service time.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: January 31, 2018 at 10:42 PM (#5616975)
Most of the players in that first full free agent class (winter of 1976-77) became free agents because they had accrued six years of service time and their contracts had expired. Garland was one of the few who used the old Messersmith/McNally loophole to become a free agent, even though he did not have the service time.


I'm curious, was Ted Simmons the first player to try and create that loophole, or had other players done that before him?? (checking google now----it seems he actually was the first, but that is just based upon a couple of websites)

Excellent article on Simmons from here
   16. Walt Davis Posted: January 31, 2018 at 11:09 PM (#5616990)
Once again, it matters a lot which years you want to use for Hosmer. Last year he was 4 WAR (4.8 oWAR). Over the last 3 it's 8.6; over the last 5 it's 12.9. Start at one of his lousy years and the WAR/year goes down.

But yes, the age matters. Most FAs are becoming FAs after their prime years. When has a player who had 13 WAR over ages 23-27 ended up signing a big FA contract? Probably lots of times because they added ages 28-31 to their age 27 and had a really nice run. How often does an FA of any type get a 7-year deal? With few exceptions when they've become an FA before age 30. There are only a handful of examples -- ARod, Heyward, Fielder spring to mind. They were all better than Hosmer but they got 10, 8 and 9 years. There are also pre-FA extensions that have run for several years. It's got very little to do with number of years and a lot to do with the age range covered by the contract.

But the first answer to the question is Elvis Andrus who got an 8-year pre-FA buyout, putting up 14.7 WAR, 13.9 oWAR from 2010-14 -- nearly the same as Hosmer except EH was -7 in Rfield and EA was +6.

BUT IT STILL ALL COMES DOWN TO WHAT YOU THINK HIS DEFENSE REALLY IS!!!!! It is pretty pointless for anybody to make a statement about Hosmer's past much less his future until you state how good/bad of a defender you think he is.

He has 13 WAR over the last 5 years if he's a slightly below-average defender as bWAR says. But if he's worthy of 4 GG in those 5 years then bWAR is under-rating him to the tune of 3-4 wins. Maybe you want to play it safe and put him in between in which case they've under-rated him by 1.5-2 wins. So Hosmer either has been a 2.5 WAR player, a not quite 3 WAR player or a 3.3 WAR player. On the one hand, those are tiny differences ... on the other hand, that's potentially a differnce of $6 M in AAV and lasting as a starting quality 1B for an extra 1-2 years. It makes a good difference in the comp projection too. It's not a huge difference but, except for Casey, those players all reached at least 12 oWAR. I'd WAG Hosmer to about 15 oWAR over the next 7 years ... deduct 3 wins for below-average defense and he's clearly not worth more than 5/$100 if that; add 3 wins for above-average defense and he's worth about 7/$140.

So yes, if you think he's the 2.5 WAR player now then you don't sign him for 7 years; if you think he's a 3.3 WAR player now, you consider it; if you think he's been a 3.3 WAR player but last year indicated that in his prime he's going to be closer to 4, you strongly consider 7 years if that's what it takes. (assuming an AAV around $20-22)

Two other good comps for Hosmer are Baines and Oliver. Both lasted forever, neither was particularly outstanding. From 28-34, Oliver put up 23 WAR ... alas Baines only 13. In terms of athleticism/likely aging, Hosmer is probably somewhere between those two. Oliver is a pretty fitting comp. He was a bit more consistent than Hosmer but he put up just 1.3 WAR at age 26 before breaking out with 4.7 WAR at 27, thanks in part to a career-high 136 OPS+. He was then a 3.5 WAR player (quite consistently) for the next 8 years (with a crap year at 34 but a career year at 35).

But Hosmer definitely has the profile of a guy who will still be in the majors at 33-34. In that comp list I linked, other than Carlos May who was already toast by 27, everybody lasted until 34 except Sexson and Casey who made it to 33.

Anyway, I agree that Hosmer should not have the leverage to push a team to 7 years much less more than that, even if he is a good defender. But, if he is a good defender, he probably also won't leave you regretting 7/$140. That's why something like a 4/7 opt-out contract seems reasonable for good defense Hosmer. If he's bad defense Hosmer then he's Adam LaRoche and I don't go more than 3/$55 or something.
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: January 31, 2018 at 11:27 PM (#5616997)
But Hosmer definitely has the profile of a guy who will still be in the majors at 33-34.


Agreed. He looks like a guy who will be around for several years....it still wouldn't change my mind in any way if I'm a gm..

you strongly consider 7 years if that's what it takes. (assuming an AAV around $20-22)


The only way I give Hosmer 20mil a year would be a one year contract with an option based upon him getting 600 pa...and I fully let the press know that he's not getting 600 pa if he isn't putting up a 120 ops+....but nothing in his profile makes me think of him as a 20mil player for a 5 year contract. His one selling point is his age as a free agent, unfortunately the rest of his resume just doesn't scream as a guy you would want to lock into a long term commitment and potentially block any developing bats you have. Add in that war over rates him for most teams... he only has value to teams that have quality offensive parts at other positions so that they can punt on offense at first for a gold glover, there really aren't a lot of teams that that is a preferred situation. Run prevention is nice, but there is actually a limit to the value it provides, while there is no real limit to the value of run production (meaning if I have a team of 8 young Andruw Jones and a team of 8 young Derek Jeter's.... I'm better off with the Jeter's.... (note this isn't an accurate simile, just two names I grabbed from memory...but if you have a team of 8 defense first players relative to positions, vs a team of 8 offense first players, even if their war is equivalent(and you assume it's accurate) I'll take the offense guys going forward. Of course that is an extreme comparison)


His skill set or at least a two war player at his position, could be repeated by plenty of minor league players without spending the money for a relatively limited player. I just do not see any reason to spend big on Hosmer..... and absolutely not a 20mil a year player, regardless of any projection of his war.
   18. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: January 31, 2018 at 11:39 PM (#5617005)
The left-handed-hitting first baseman recorded a career-best batting line of .318/.385/.498 and tied a career high with 25 homers in 2017 with Kansas City.

Slip just a little from those age-27 numbers and you're basically looking at Wally Joyner: .289/.362/.440, 16 HR / 162 games at 1B. Who wants to be locked into that at premium dollars for many years?
   19. ptodd Posted: February 01, 2018 at 01:57 AM (#5617034)
Since when is a contract covering a players age 28-34 or even 28-36 years considered excessive. Hosmer may have had his breakout year last year at age 27 and in a park where he may learn to elevate with more success may do great things. That his offense is still hard to project may be justification to keep his AAV down, but not the years. Hosmer should be looking for an opt out after year 2 so he can capitalize on a clear break out.

It seems clear there are collusive forces. Either years or AAV are being suppressed, if not both . Santana got the AAV but not the years. Cain got years but not the AAV, but most have fallen short on both, or had no offers
   20. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: February 01, 2018 at 05:01 AM (#5617037)
That his offense is still hard to project may be justification to keep his AAV down, but not the years.

It's justification to do both. Longer contracts are a way to reward elite players, while keeping their AAV managable. Fungible players like Hosmer have never gotten 7-9 year deals. There is no way any sane team should commit to that kind of risk.

It seems clear there are collusive forces. Either years or AAV are being suppressed, if not both . Santana got the AAV but not the years. Cain got years but not the AAV, but most have fallen short on both, or had no offers

This sounds like conspiracy nonsense. For starters, I have not seen any credible source claim that any major league caliber player has gotten no offer at all.

That some players have not found a market for their services that they had dreamed of... well that happens every year.

The fact is, it is a fairly uninspiring class of FA's, and all the players have either significant red flags, or are just not that good.
   21. bfan Posted: February 01, 2018 at 06:56 AM (#5617041)
Collusion? How about an egregious conflict of interest by Boras. He is making Hosmer ask for more money than he should, to the detriment of taking a deal he is worth (risking getting nothing), for the sole purpose of propping up the salary market for his other client, Martinez. Or, you could make the argument running the other way. See how easy it is to throw these accusations out there, and create a viable story around them?
   22. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 01, 2018 at 08:34 AM (#5617056)
That his offense is still hard to project may be justification to keep his AAV down, but not the years.


But I doubt that Hosmer is asking for more years at a lower AAV. He's asking for more years at the same AAV or higher.
   23. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 01, 2018 at 08:49 AM (#5617061)
Other evidence of 'clear collusive forces' at work includes the failure of Oscar voters to acknowledge the Baywatch movie and the fact that Right Said Fred no longer has a recording contract.
   24. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 01, 2018 at 08:53 AM (#5617063)
I'm too sexy to collude
To sexy to collude
Now look at my nudes.
   25. Nasty Nate Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:01 AM (#5617070)
But I doubt that Hosmer is asking for more years at a lower AAV. He's asking for more years at the same AAV or higher.
Correct. When it's reported that Hosmer (or whoever) is trying to get another year or two from his suitors, we should assume it means another year at the same AAV, or close, as their existing offers.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:09 AM (#5617076)
BUT IT STILL ALL COMES DOWN TO WHAT YOU THINK HIS DEFENSE REALLY IS!!!!! It is pretty pointless for anybody to make a statement about Hosmer's past much less his future until you state how good/bad of a defender you think he is.

Why are you shouting?

I think he's exactly what the numbers say he is. Why would anyone think anything else?

He has 13 WAR over the last 5 years if he's a slightly below-average defender as bWAR says. But if he's worthy of 4 GG in those 5 years then bWAR is under-rating him to the tune of 3-4 wins. Maybe you want to play it safe and put him in between in which case they've under-rated him by 1.5-2 wins.

DRS and UZR both agree here. Why are we giving credence to Gold Gloves. Jeter was still an awful defender.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:12 AM (#5617080)
It's justification to do both. Longer contracts are a way to reward elite players, while keeping their AAV managable. Fungible players like Hosmer have never gotten 7-9 year deals. There is no way any sane team should commit to that kind of risk.


100% correct. Why are people pretending Hosmer is a great player? He's average. Average players get 2 to 3 year deals.
   28. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:19 AM (#5617081)
Oh he's clearly better than average, but he ain't the sort of guy a smart team takes a major financial risk on.
   29. Nasty Nate Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:26 AM (#5617084)
It's justification to do both. Longer contracts are a way to reward elite players, while keeping their AAV managable. Fungible players like Hosmer have never gotten 7-9 year deals. There is no way any sane team should commit to that kind of risk.
100% correct. Why are people pretending Hosmer is a great player? He's average. Average players get 2 to 3 year deals.
I agree, but I think "reward" isn't quite the right way of saying things (like I think it's a little misleading when people say teams "give" FAs contracts). It's just worked out that the interests of teams and medium players have not aligned enough for them to agree on long contracts that both sides like. Similarly, teams and star players in general haven't found common ground on very short deals.
   30. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:35 AM (#5617088)
Petco would eat Hosmer alive.
   31. Darren Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:36 AM (#5617090)
But Hosmer definitely has the profile of a guy who will still be in the majors at 33-34. In that comp list I linked, other than Carlos May who was already toast by 27, everybody lasted until 34 except Sexson and Casey who made it to 33.


You mean ZIPS-#1-comp-for-Hosmer Carlos May? :)

Hosmer's defense is an interesting question, but I think it's worth noting here that the baseline for Hosmer as a bad defender is NOT a 2.5 WAR player going forward. Steamer projects him with essentially average defense and has him at 2.6 WAR. ZIPS puts him at -2 defense and projects him at 1.9. Yikes.

Although he seems disinclined to go this way, Hosmer seems like a really good candidate for a 1-2 year opt-out and a shorter deal. Assuming a team likes him, offer him something like 5/$110MM with an opt-out after a year or 2. If he can repeat or come close to repeating 2017, he'll be a lot more attractive and still be 29 or 30. If not, he's got a guaranteed $100MM. For the team, 5/$110MM is a lot more fun for an up-and-down guy than 7/$150.
   32. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:38 AM (#5617092)

DRS and UZR both agree here. Why are we giving credence to Gold Gloves. Jeter was still an awful defender.


But, what about Silver Sluggers?! Hosmer has more Silver Slugger awards than Joey Votto, and Joey is making $25 million per! ;-)
   33. Darren Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:56 AM (#5617103)
A smart team will swoop in and sign him for 8/$184MM, then move him to RF. He was a +13 UZR in 2015.
   34. Zonk cooks his superfish with raisins Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:57 AM (#5617105)
Petco would eat Hosmer alive.


Meh... doesn't Kauffman still play as a pitcher's park?

As much I see Walt's point -- I guess my biggest problem with Hosmer for anything more than 4-5 years is that he's a 1B.... and if you're betting he's still got upside left and will get to 4 WAR - that's still just a top 10 1B for the most part.

To go 7 years -- with an AAV over 20 mil -- on a 1B, I want a guy I can truly see being a top 3 1B more often than not. Otherwise, I've just spent a good chunk of payroll I'm stuck with for a LONG time on an upside bet.

Maybe if he played a different position - besides LF, I guess - but this is just the sort of security and AAV I really cannot see giving someone like Hosmer. I suppose a 1B is less likely to fall off a cliff (maybe?) than a 2B or CF or C or SS... but you're still likely getting no more than a 'good' player (upside, at his best) at better than that price and longevity.

MAYBE it makes sense for one of the big spenders... though none of them need a 1B... but for KC? SD? No way I'd be interested.
   35. Russ Posted: February 01, 2018 at 10:01 AM (#5617108)
Has there ever been an MLB contract where both sides get options to extend?

It seems like everyone agrees that Hosmer would be OK for 4 years at $80 million, minimum. So let's set that as the base case for the contract. After the fourth year, what if there were two options:

a) Team can exercise the option and extend Hosmer for 3 more years at $70 million.

b) Hosmer can exercise the option and extend the contract for 2 more years at $35 million.

Then the team gets some upside protection if Hosmer is killing it, but they pay more than Hosmer can get right now. But Hosmer gets downside protection if he doesn't think he can do better than $17.5 AAV over the next two years as a free agent.

Maybe the numbers need to be fudged with a bit, but it seems like giving either party the option to pay more to get more guaranteed value would work for both parties.
   36. DL from MN Posted: February 01, 2018 at 10:19 AM (#5617119)
San Diego: 7 years $140M is our final offer

Hosmer: I want 8 years

San Diego: Okay, 8 years $140M. We'll get the paperwork ready
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 01, 2018 at 10:50 AM (#5617137)
I agree, but I think "reward" isn't quite the right way of saying things (like I think it's a little misleading when people say teams "give" FAs contracts). It's just worked out that the interests of teams and medium players have not aligned enough for them to agree on long contracts that both sides like. Similarly, teams and star players in general haven't found common ground on very short deals.

A big part of the problem is that players seem to have completely abandoned the concept of the age-old tradeoff between years of security and maximizing annual salary. Now, they seem to be demanding long-term contracts at the absolute top of their current value. Of course, there's no potential upside for a team in that scenario, and the team bears 100% of the not even risk, but virtual certainty that the player will have at least some age-related decline and thus not deliver his maximum value. And the players are surprised, nay, outraged that teams are finally saying no to this proposition?
   38. McCoy Posted: February 01, 2018 at 10:59 AM (#5617144)
Has there ever been an MLB contract where both sides get options to extend?

Yes. Plenty of times. They are called mutual options
   39. Zonk cooks his superfish with raisins Posted: February 01, 2018 at 11:17 AM (#5617162)
BTW - Walt mentioned Derrek Lee upthread.... That's an interesting comparison.

I know perhaps it's just a fluke - but I keep pointing out with Hosmer... He's been distinctly Saberhagenian -- as in, virtually replacement level one year, ~3 WAR the next, then back to replacement level. Technically, even with his odd/even fluctuation - I suppose he's actually improved in each swimlane... that is -- his bad (even) years have gone -0.4, 0.8, 1.0 and his good (odd) years have gone 1.5, 3.5, 3.6, 4.0.

Lee, OTOH, was pretty darn consistent up to the point the Cubs extended him.... 2 WAR to 3 WAR... then a Cub.... then a monster year (7.7 WAR) in 2005, then hurt in 2006, then back to 3.5 in 2007, a down year at 1.9, before 5.4 in his last full season (then traded late as he ran out of gas).

All told, Lee was worth about 23 WAR to the Cubs.... That seems like the level where Walt says you consider it not a bad idea. I remain unconvinced, but I could get there I guess. I suppose if Hosmer promises to provide that outlier year in a season where I'm contending, I'd be more convinced :-)

   40. Nasty Nate Posted: February 01, 2018 at 11:18 AM (#5617163)
Now, they seem to be demanding long-term contracts at the absolute top of their current value.
Well, to some extent they have always done that. It's just that this year it seems like they are trying a new strategy (the threatened hold out) to get the best deals. I'm skeptical that it will work; there's a reason hold outs in professional sports are almost always by players under contract or otherwise under control, and not by free agents.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 01, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5617177)
Yes. Plenty of times. They are called mutual options

That's different. Russ is talking about two separate unilateral options, i.e. the player has an option he can exercise unilaterally, as does the team. A mutual option requires both parties to exercise.
   42. Nasty Nate Posted: February 01, 2018 at 11:42 AM (#5617186)
If you think about it, all players and teams have the equivalent of the mutual option you describe at the end of their contracts.

I think separate unilateral options are just referred to as mutual options.

   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 01, 2018 at 11:47 AM (#5617196)
If you think about it, all players and teams have the equivalent of the mutual option you describe at the end of their contracts.

Yes, they do. But, there have been mutual options, as I describe, written into contracts.
   44. Darren Posted: February 01, 2018 at 11:57 AM (#5617213)
Now, they seem to be demanding long-term contracts at the absolute top of their current value.


Haven't players always started the bidding as high as possible?
   45. Russ Posted: February 01, 2018 at 12:00 PM (#5617222)
Mutual options


A mutual option is an optional year at the end of a contract. In order for the optional year to become guaranteed, both parties must agree to exercise the option.


What I described is what snapper is saying... two separate unilateral options, which I have not heard about before.

Judging by this nice article from 2012 by Wendy Thurm at Fangraphs, it seems that a club declining their half of a mutual option typically would trigger a buyout by the club to rid themselves of their half of the responsibility of the option. Of course, there could also be contracts that contain only club options that lead to buyouts if the club declines to pick up the option.

So I guess what I've proposed above is something similar to a club option, but instead of leading to a cash buyout where the player gets some cash, but immediately becomes a FA, the player can exercise a player option with fewer years and less money per year (but probably still more overall than the cash buyout).
   46. Nasty Nate Posted: February 01, 2018 at 12:01 PM (#5617223)
Yes, they do. But, there have been mutual options, as I describe, written into contracts.
Yes, and sometimes they are even exercised. Giambi and the Rockies, I think. And someone more recently, but I can't remember. Presumably they were already on the same page and it just saved them the hassle of negotiation.
   47. Stormy JE Posted: February 01, 2018 at 12:03 PM (#5617225)
Collusion? How about an egregious conflict of interest by Boras. He is making Hosmer ask for more money than he should, to the detriment of taking a deal he is worth (risking getting nothing), for the sole purpose of propping up the salary market for his other client, Martinez.
To be clear, that's on the players. A player who hires Boras as his agent is well aware that he's got multiple clients testing the free agency waters every single offseason.
   48. Nasty Nate Posted: February 01, 2018 at 12:06 PM (#5617230)
So I guess what I've proposed above is something similar to a club option, but instead of leading to a cash buyout where the player gets some cash, but immediately becomes a FA, the player can exercise a player option with fewer years and less money per year (but probably still more overall than the cash buyout).
I think these have existed, although I can't remember a specific one.
   49. geonose Posted: February 01, 2018 at 01:06 PM (#5617325)
doesn't Kauffman still play as a pitcher's park?

Common fallacy. Kauffman supresses home runs, but is otherwise a pretty good hitters' park.
   50. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 01, 2018 at 01:14 PM (#5617341)
Haven't players always started the bidding as high as possible?

I dunno, it seems like they've anchored their demands significantly and progressively higher in recent years, and, as 40 points out, they are being more adamant about not coming off of their initial demands. That could just be perception, though.
   51. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 01, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5617355)
Mutual options


The kind of agreement you can count on when the going gets rough.
   52. Walt Davis Posted: February 01, 2018 at 04:41 PM (#5617523)
Slip down a little from those age-27 numbers and you're basically looking at Wally Joyner: .289/.362/.440, 16 HR / 162 games at 1B. Who wants to be locked into that at premium dollars for many years?

He is in the Hosmer comp list I posted. And from 28-34, Joyner put up 16 WAR and still had 5 WAR left over the next two seasons. Even at $8/WAR, that's "worth" $128 M; if we assume $/WAR is probably already at $8.5 (before this year) and will inflate over the next 7, we're probably closer to $9/WAR and that's "worth" $144 M. That 16 WAR came in only about 5.5 seasons worth of play so is about a 3 WAR player over those 7 seasons -- missed half his age 28, the 94 stoppage and regular chunks of time off -- i.e. he was a higher-quality player than that WAR suggests and Hosmer projects to be more durable than that ... but then everybody (incl Joyner) is durable until they aren't.

Again, a Joyner projection isn't enough to give a player real leverage in a negotiation and that 16 WAR is about break-even for a $140 M contract so there's no good reason a team should offer more.

$20 M per year stopped being "premium dollars" a long time ago. Bringing us to ...

#34 -- Tex signed for 8/$180 (or whatever it was) all the way back in 2009. AGon got 7/$154 back in 2012 (as an extension not FA). Prince got 9/$214 back in 2012 too; Votto got a 10-year extension at $225 that takes him through age 39.

No offense but it's naive to think you can get a top 3 1B for anything like 7/$140 in 2018, especially not if he was just 28. If Hosmer was a top 3 1B, we'd be wondering whether he'd get a bigger contract than Stanton but absolutely minimum would be 8/$200 or 9/$225. As far as we know, Hosmer's just asking for Chris Davis money spread over 8 years instead of 7 -- a bad idea for a team but hardly ridiculously over-valuing himself.

#26 -- I'm shouting because you keep missing the point. Nobody is suggesting that a 2.5 WAR player should get 7/$140 or even 5/$100. The sole question is whether Hosmer is a 2.5 WAR player and the answer to that question comes down to two things -- how good is his defense, was last year's offensive breakout his sustainable prime?

Why should we not take his numbers at face value? Beyond the obvious point that we should recognize the uncertainty in all estimates of past value much less the even more uncertain projections of future value, we should question those numbers because it's clear that many baseball insiders (FOs, managers/coaches, etc.) do consider him a good defender and a valuable player. He started in front of Goldschmidt in the WBC for crying out loud. It seems some of them are expecting a hitter closer to the one we saw last year as well. I don't see it, I don't get it but it's pretty clear that some view him very positively and they are professional baseball people and they're all looking at projections now too (not to mention statcast type stuff).

If Hosmer was fielding offers at 3/$50, then we'd be pretty confident in our conclusion that he's a pretty average player. As it is, we only "know" of two teams that have gone beyond that, one of them with an emotional attachment, so it's not as if we should lose all faith in our belief he's a pretty average player. But 7/$140 is a long way from 3/$50 so we're not talking about marginal differences, those FOs think we're missing something big. So what could those be? Defense is the most obvious potential source and we don't have a lot of faith in our defensive evaluations and we don't have any statcast work to help us out. That there's some reason to expect him to repeat his offense over the next few years (or at least retain most of that 4.8 oWAR) is the other obvious potential source of disagreement. Here we probably do have pretty much the same data to work with as they do -- and a simple Marcel of his oWAR comes out at 3.6 ... even as a slightly below-average defender, that's a 3-WAR player and you certainly don't get those at 3/$50 very often. (As I've said many times, his on/off pattern makes him hard to project and it can matter a lot which years you incorporate into your projection.)

There are other little things we "know". Players often enter their hitting prime at 27, Hosmer was right on time. Players who debut early often turn out really well -- Hosmer was full time at 21. He struggled a lot at 22 but was pretty good at 21 and 23, ages when most 1B are either still in the minors or struggling to win the full-time job -- e.g. Joyner wasn't in the majors until 24; neither was Grace; DLee was up early but sent back down and his age 21-23 are much worse than Hosmer's and he didn't really establish himself as an above-average player until 26.

Every "little" indicator we have -- high draft, early debut age with ML-quality full-time performance, durability, defensive rep, athleticism (by 1B standards) -- suggests he is more likely to end up in the top half of his comp group rather than the lower half. That is 18 WAR seems at least a bit more likely than 12. If that's so, then 12 WAR over the next 4 years is a reasonable projection and 3/$50 would be a huge bargain and 5/$100 looks perfectly sensible. You've got to have more faith in 18 WAR than I think is warranted for 7/$140 to enter serious consideration.

And for you of all people to declare faith in defensive numbers is rich. You don't get to completely discount the defensive numbers of Heyward but then declare full faith in those of Hosmer.

But yes, if you think Hosmer is currently a 2.5 WAR player then offering him this contract would be a bad idea. Nobody is arguing otherwise.
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 01, 2018 at 04:56 PM (#5617530)
And for you of all people to declare faith in defensive numbers is rich. You don't get to completely discount the defensive numbers of Heyward but then declare full faith in those of Hosmer.

How so? Hosmer being -5 at 1B is well within the range of normal observations. A guy being +30 in RF is not.

Also, 1B have vvery, very few discretionary plays. OFs have a ton.
   54. TomH Posted: February 01, 2018 at 05:03 PM (#5617535)
Keith Hernandez. The exception to most 1B generalities, including 53 :)
   55. Zonk cooks his superfish with raisins Posted: February 01, 2018 at 05:08 PM (#5617539)
#34 -- Tex signed for 8/$180 (or whatever it was) all the way back in 2009. AGon got 7/$154 back in 2012 (as an extension not FA). Prince got 9/$214 back in 2012 too; Votto got a 10-year extension at $225 that takes him through age 39.

No offense but it's naive to think you can get a top 3 1B for anything like 7/$140 in 2018, especially not if he was just 28. If Hosmer was a top 3 1B, we'd be wondering whether he'd get a bigger contract than Stanton but absolutely minimum would be 8/$200 or 9/$225. As far as we know, Hosmer's just asking for Chris Davis money spread over 8 years instead of 7 -- a bad idea for a team but hardly ridiculously over-valuing himself.


Sure - but that's the thing, Walt...

I don't think anyone would say Hosmer is a top 3 1B right now... Maybe (probably?) everybody says top 10 -- but would anyone go top 3? Even top 5 seems stretching it.

I just don't think you gamble on the idea he could be. Especially not for a 1B.

FTR - I would hate to have Chris Davis' contract, too (and I'm sure the Orioles agree with me).

Teams - even the Dodgers and Yankees - can only afford so many guys making 20-25+ million, signed for forever. I'm not against giving one of those to a 1B - but if I do - it's going to be a guy who is top 3... not someone who might be.

At 1B? If I'm locking down ~150 to 200 mil for 7-8+ years - I'm only doing it with someone like... well, much as this is hardly a good case in point, someone like FA Albert Pujols back when he didn't look like a large oceanic bird with long narrow wings. Yeah, yeah - I know I don't get Pujols for that - I'm paying double that or so.

I'm just saying that at 1B - if I'm going to splurge, it's only going to be on a guy I have a reasonable expectation of being worth the premium... at least for a few years.

   56. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 01, 2018 at 05:15 PM (#5617541)
How so? Hosmer being -5 at 1B is well within the range of normal observations. A guy being +30 in RF is not


Heyward’s top 5 seasons are 32, 24, 20, 18, 18. Clemente’s is 27, 24, 24, 20, 18. Is it possible that Heyward is as good as Clemente, or is Clemente,s also unrealistic?
   57. Zach Posted: February 01, 2018 at 05:18 PM (#5617544)
How so? Hosmer being -5 at 1B is well within the range of normal observations.

Fangraphs has him at -20 for 2016. At first base, -20 should be visible to the naked eye.

Put it this way: Hosmer famously dashed for home in the 2015 World Series, because the scouting report had specially picked out Lucas "Bless his heart, he's a good Bat" Duda's questionable fielding.

For 2015, Fangraphs has Duda one run better than Hosmer.
   58. I Am Merely a Fake Lawyer Posted: February 01, 2018 at 05:24 PM (#5617549)
All y'all know the saber community is responsible for this, right? Cheering on the Cubs' and Astros' tanking -- together with the long standing but foolish saber maxim that if you're going to rebuild you should rebuild -- gave ownership in the vast majority of markets the perfect cover not to spend money.(*)

And now here we are.

Some of us actually warned about this at the time. Ricketts and Crane are still chuckling at the millions they raked in during the Tanking Years.

(*) This isn't the only major factor. The other is the fact that the prospects teams acquire and grow are far better known to fans now, and can be followed far more easily in the minors now than in the pre-Internet days. They're therefore far easier to sell to fanbases relative to established players than they were pre-net.
   59. Nasty Nate Posted: February 01, 2018 at 05:25 PM (#5617550)

No offense but it's naive to think you can get a top 3 1B for anything like 7/$140 in 2018, especially not if he was just 28.
This is correct. You can't get a 28-year superstar at any position for 7/$140 as a free agent.
   60. I Am Merely a Fake Lawyer Posted: February 01, 2018 at 05:29 PM (#5617555)
I give pretty much zero ##### how much MLB players make and maybe a-twentieth of a #### whether owners are colluding, but the answer to the players' financial "problems" is to demand a dramatically quicker path to free agency. Players become free agents far too late in their careers. None of the other Big Four sports have anything like the 8-9 year forced commitment to one organization that MLB has.
   61. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: February 01, 2018 at 05:59 PM (#5617574)
One factor which could be driving down Hosmer's value is the weakness of 1B in the American League right now. There are at least four 1B in the National League I'd easily take over Hosmer, and several others that are close enough. But in the AL it's Abreu, hopefully a rebound from Miggy, and I don't really know. If you can sign Logan Morrison for a fraction and still have a perfectly decent AL 1B, I can understand not wanting to pay full freight on a 7 year deal for someone billed as a superstar.
   62. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: February 01, 2018 at 06:30 PM (#5617587)
Players become free agents far too late in their careers. None of the other Big Four sports have anything like the 8-9 year forced commitment to one organization that MLB has.

Agreed. And it could theoretically be longer than 9 years.

Say a player gets signed when he's 17. Club has four years until he has to be added to the 40 man (or exposed to Rule 5) at the age of 21. They then can option him to the minor for three seasons (so thru his age 24 season) and then have him for an additional 6 years (thru age 30). So that's a total of 13 seasons of club control and few more if they were to expose him to Rule 5 and not add him until he was about to become a minor league free agent.

Change it to a guy who gets signed when he's a bit older, then only 3 pre-option years, up to 3 option year, and then up to 6 cost-controlled years. So as another example: 21+3+3+6=33 years-old before becoming a free agent.

So yeah, there needs to be fewer years before becoming a free agent. I don't know if that's accomplished by reducing the minor league years of control or MLB years of control (or both), but the system should be designed so that most guys reach free agency while they're still in their mid/late 20s.

Reducing the quantity of cost controlled years will also lessen the incentive to "tank" to get high draft picks, which can only be a good thing for MLB as a whole as well.
   63. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 01, 2018 at 06:45 PM (#5617596)
He's been distinctly Saberhagenian


Well in his inconsistency yes, but the main difference is when Saberhagen was good, he was really, really good. Like the best pitcher in baseball good. He put a 7.3, 8.0 and a 9.7! WAR years. Hosmer's best is 4 WAR. Decent but not great.

Sabs would be more like if Joey Votto put up a 3 WAR season every other year, then the comparison would be apt.

Hosmer has never, nor will ever be as good as Saberhagen was when he was on. Hosmer will never put up a 7 WAR season until he actually starts hitting more balls in the air AND gets to more balls then the average 1B. These are the things that most of us don't think will ever happen. Apparently he's a good scooper at the bag, but that .351 BABIP from 2017 is not sustainable and why most of think he should jump on that 7/140 asap.
   64. Zonk cooks his superfish with raisins Posted: February 01, 2018 at 06:46 PM (#5617597)
All y'all know the saber community is responsible for this, right? Cheering on the Cubs' and Astros' tanking -- together with the long standing but foolish saber maxim that if you're going to rebuild you should rebuild -- gave ownership in the vast majority of markets the perfect cover not to spend money.(*)


Yeah - us Cubs and Astros fans have certainly learned our lesson and are intensely interested in your opinions on what we did wrong.

I'll let fans of the team that won its first title ever speak for themselves, but speaking for the fans of the one that won its first in 108 years -- I'll say if you don't like it, go watch soccer.
   65. Zonk cooks his superfish with raisins Posted: February 01, 2018 at 07:02 PM (#5617605)
Just FTR -

I've agreed in other threads with Snapper's idea he's expressed elsewhere - by all means, incorporate a "salary floor" and penalize teams below regarding shared MLB revenue. I'm perfectly fine with the idea that while "tanking" may be the best option for a team to build a winner, profit margins should certainly fall (not rise) with it.

A couple CBAs ago - I might not have agreed... but a team cannot really overspend on the draft or plow money into the international market anymore. Nowadays, your amateur budget is what it is - and the penalties for going overslot are so severe it's no longer worthwhile.
   66. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 01, 2018 at 07:21 PM (#5617609)
All y'all know the saber community is responsible for this, right? Cheering on the Cubs' and Astros' tanking


Well you are partly correct, however outside of not spending money, the biggest advantage to the full tanking is that...well...it seems to work.

As other clubs try it and fail, then I am sure more teams might reconsider the decision. As it stands now, teams look at the Cubs and Astros and think hey we can tear it all down, save some money and become Series champs in a few years! Or maybe they are smart enough and they don't think that, but as you pointed out, it just gives them an excuse to be really cheap for awhile.

The only thing I know is that it doesn't seem to be a good thing when 1/3 of the teams are not really trying....
   67. cardsfanboy Posted: February 01, 2018 at 07:27 PM (#5617612)
Agreed. And it could theoretically be longer than 9 years.

Say a player gets signed when he's 17. Club has four years until he has to be added to the 40 man (or exposed to Rule 5) at the age of 21. They then can option him to the minor for three seasons (so thru his age 24 season) and then have him for an additional 6 years (thru age 30). So that's a total of 13 seasons of club control and few more if they were to expose him to Rule 5 and not add him until he was about to become a minor league free agent.

Change it to a guy who gets signed when he's a bit older, then only 3 pre-option years, up to 3 option year, and then up to 6 cost-controlled years. So as another example: 21+3+3+6=33 years-old before becoming a free agent.

So yeah, there needs to be fewer years before becoming a free agent. I don't know if that's accomplished by reducing the minor league years of control or MLB years of control (or both), but the system should be designed so that most guys reach free agency while they're still in their mid/late 20s.

Reducing the quantity of cost controlled years will also lessen the incentive to "tank" to get high draft picks, which can only be a good thing for MLB as a whole as well.


Yep, there are actually a few guys who fit this profile, and we aren't talking scrubs either, but major league starters (at some point in their career) Carlos Ruiz signed with the Phillies in 1998 when he was 19(?) years old, and didn't reach free agent status until 2013 when he was 34 years old... Tommy Pham of the Cardinals (guy who posted the third best war by position players in the NL this year, his age 29 season, isn't even arbitration eligible.... He was drafted in 2006.


But here is the other thing, if it wasn't for the rules set up, it's very unlikely that either Pham or Ruiz would have been allowed to take up roster space in the minors and even get several years on the 40 man roster making a bit more than table scraps, except that the teams were hoping for some type of future performance.. I'm not defending the system as set up fully, but at the same time those surprising years or careers from guys happen because the team supported them, with the knowledge that they will get a reward for it...

Of course a minor tweak to arbitration is all that is really necessary to fix some of this, and that is that arbitration salary should be aligned with the performance of an equivalent aged player, instead of an equivalent experienced player. (that would of course hurt the young studs to an extent but also reward the late bloomers, and the young studs probably don't have a worry.)
   68. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: February 01, 2018 at 07:34 PM (#5617616)
One small tweak could be that when a guy gets optioned to the minors while on the 40 man roster, he still accrues MLB service time. That is, define MLB service time in terms of days on the 40 man rather than 25 man roster.

So if a team wants to shuttle a guy with options back and forth between AAA and the majors for 3 years, then they're free to do so but they've just burned through his pre-arbitration years.
   69. cardsfanboy Posted: February 01, 2018 at 07:51 PM (#5617623)
68....I like the idea, and I think that what pro-labor people should be pushing is small tweaks, not massive overhauls. I think MLB does the best of the four sports of being fair to labor, owners and the fans, while the NFL is more or less fair to the owners, they don't give a #### about labor or the fans, the NBA is fair to the owners and the players, but don't care about the fans, hockey does a good job to an extent, but there are a few weird rules about international players that seems to hurt the fan experience(the players are happy for the most part, the owners less so, but they are still making money, of course being the clear 4th sport is a big part of that)

Edit: and note that my knowledge is extremely limited in the lesser sports, my comment is based almost entirely upon passive observation....
   70. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:00 PM (#5617661)
Fangraphs has him at -20 for 2016. At first base, -20 should be visible to the naked eye.

No, that's not right. You're reading his total defensive value which includes the positional adjustment.

UZR has him at -8.4, DRS -6
   71. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:01 PM (#5617664)
Heyward’s top 5 seasons are 32, 24, 20, 18, 18. Clemente’s is 27, 24, 24, 20, 18. Is it possible that Heyward is as good as Clemente, or is Clemente,s also unrealistic?

It's possible. Unlikely, since Clemente is considered the best RF ever.
   72. cardsfanboy Posted: February 01, 2018 at 09:44 PM (#5617677)
It's possible. Unlikely, since Clemente is considered the best RF ever.


I don't see why not, reputations are reputations, we have no problem denouncing Derek Jeter's reputation, but when it comes to a sacred cow like Clemente, we can't accept that there might be a few people just as good as him over the past 50 years?

As it is with these things, it's not necessarily that the guy was the best ever defensively at his position, but that he was an elite defender who also hit at an elite level. There is enough evidence out there to support that Bench or Schmidt were not the best defenders in history at their position.... but that they were a rare combination of being elite at both sides of the ball. I think it crosses the line of reason-ability to make an assumption that an elite player on one side of the equation is also the elite player on the other side (whenever someone makes the claim that Willie Mays is the greatest defensive centerfielder of all time, it automatically causes my eyes to roll, the likelihood of that is so astronomically small that it doesn't even deserve a response, even if you are limiting it to guys who played 500 games in the majors. )
   73. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 01, 2018 at 10:06 PM (#5617697)
I think it crosses the line of reason-ability to make an assumption that an elite player on one side of the equation is also the elite player on the other side (whenever someone makes the claim that Willie Mays is the greatest defensive centerfielder of all time, it automatically causes my eyes to roll, the likelihood of that is so astronomically small that it doesn't even deserve a response, even if you are limiting it to guys who played 500 games in the majors. )

I see your point -- what are the odds that out of everyone to play a position over the years, the same guy would be the best both offensively and defensively? -- but as long as we're speculating, wouldn't it also be entirely possible that one player would have freakish athletic ability that would manifest itself on both offense and defense?
   74. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: February 01, 2018 at 10:09 PM (#5617699)
entirely possible that one player would have freakish athletic ability that would manifest itself on both offense and defense?

This.
   75. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 01, 2018 at 10:30 PM (#5617711)
It's possible. Unlikely, since Clemente is considered the best RF ever.


And that’s the final word. No ne else can be considered equal to or better than the best?

BBref list of RF with 20+ fielding runs in a season since 1950 has Clemente, Heyward, and Brian Jordan listed 3 times, Jesse Barfield listed 4 times, Sosa, Kaline, Dwight Evans, and Mookie Betts listed twice. Seems reasonable.
   76. Ziggy's screen name Posted: February 01, 2018 at 10:52 PM (#5617718)
The only thing I know is that it doesn't seem to be a good thing when 1/3 of the teams are not really trying....


I'll disagree. The other 2/3rds of the teams now have an increase probability that they'll make the post-season, and they're much more likely to be in the hunt until the end. That's good for their bottom lines. And the teams that are tanking* are trying to replicate the Cubs and Astros' success, which is good for their bottom lines if they can pull it off. As much as certain Yankees fans complain about big market teams subsidizing failure, it may well be worth it to them to reduce the competition that they face. The difference in revenue between making the playoffs and going home is huge. And if wins are worth more to big market teams (which they are), in order to maximize over all profits what you want is to distribute wins to those teams (even if it means paying the smaller market teams that will not be competitive). I mean, the Rays need to win a few games to make it look good, but at least ceteris paribus you want the Yankees to win more games and the Rays to win fewer.

And, as this off-season has demonstrated, this situation has the added benefit that it cuts down on demand for free agents, and so, presumably, reduces the size of the contracts that they can command. In fact, it does this in two ways. The tanking teams aren't buying, and for the others, if you have a relatively good chance of getting to the post season anyway, the incentive to buy free agents is reduced.

*I doubt that anyone is actually TRYING to lose, which sometimes gets suggested. They are just going cheap for a while - effectively shifting resources from the present to the future.
   77. cardsfanboy Posted: February 01, 2018 at 11:08 PM (#5617728)
but as long as we're speculating, wouldn't it also be entirely possible that one player would have freakish athletic ability that would manifest itself on both offense and defense?


I do not disagree at all with this speculation, but that doesn't mean it's going to go on for all eternity.... from a logic perspective there has almost always been teams with two elite centerfielders defensively who had to move one to right field simply because... and it doesn't seem unreasonable to think that those teams might have done it for two or three years, enough to establish an elite level defender....


from a rational point of view, if the guy isn't playing a premium defensive position (for those slow on the uptake, that means, catcher, short, center and maybe second, but probably not) that there is a good chance that a person who is qualified to play those premium positions might get moved off of them for a few seasons because of a superior defender (this is not something that Clemente can claim happened) and therefor those guys getting moved off of those positions might actually be better than the best all time at that position.


I still do not get the Clemente argument as the clearly best right fielder of all time... it's a non-defensive position to begin with, it's value is limited, anyway, and if you bag on someone like Andruw Jones's numbers, you can't take Clemente's seriously......I do not for a second think that Clemente wasn't a great fielder, and an elite one at that, but so is Heyward, or Brian Jordan (and even Larry Walker) and the difference between them is negligible, the difference is of course the offense that Clemente provided.
   78. GuyM Posted: February 02, 2018 at 06:56 AM (#5617773)
but as long as we're speculating, wouldn't it also be entirely possible that one player would have freakish athletic ability that would manifest itself on both offense and defense

Possible, but extremely unlikely. At some basic level, say among all males age 16-40, the two abilities would be highly correlated. Even at the level of high school ball, we know that C, SS, CF are often among a team's best hitters. But the higher the level of competition, the less this is true. And by the time you get to MLB, there is a negative correlation: the better you hit, the worse you field (on average). The two tasks just aren't similar enough to maintain the correlation (as opposed to swimming free style vs butterfly, where the same athlete may excel at both). Whereas, if foot speed was the major factor in offensive success, then we might well see the same player being the best hitter and fielder in CF.

This also becomes less likely over time. Today the talent is so elite on both sides of the ball that the probability of the same player being the best hitter and fielder at a position becomes very unlikely (but never impossible). So it's far more likely that this happened at times in the 1920s or 1930s than today.
   79. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 02, 2018 at 09:01 AM (#5617793)
And that’s the final word. No ne else can be considered equal to or better than the best?

BBref list of RF with 20+ fielding runs in a season since 1950 has Clemente, Heyward, and Brian Jordan listed 3 times, Jesse Barfield listed 4 times, Sosa, Kaline, Dwight Evans, and Mookie Betts listed twice. Seems reasonable.


And I said, it's possible. Heyward could legitimately be +20 in RF (I don't believe anyone is +30). But, there's been enough work done around OF defense to make me question it. It might be true, but if I was a team, I wouldn't pay for it. And if I had a vote, I wouldn't put a player in the HoF based on unprecedented defensive numbers (i.e. Andruw Jones).

And guess what? The MLB market didn't pay for it. Heyward wasn't valued as a 6 WAR player.
   80. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: February 02, 2018 at 09:10 AM (#5617796)
Tommy Pham of the Cardinals (guy who posted the third best war by position players in the NL this year, his age 29 season, isn't even arbitration eligible.... He was drafted in 2006


Wow, I had no idea he had that nice of a year.
   81. GuyM Posted: February 02, 2018 at 10:45 AM (#5617883)
One way to put older and more recent fielders on a relatively even playing field is to look at Total Zone runs rather than fielding runs, which B-Ref continues to provide even for recent/current players. That way you aren't comparing DRS apples to TZ oranges.

If you do that for RFs, Clemente is easily at the top in career TZ runs at 204, with Barfield a distant second at 149. But, if you do this as a rate (per 150 games), then three guys are well ahead of Clemente.
TZ Runs per 150 games:
Jordan 25.1
Heyward 20.0
Barfield 18.5
Clemente 13.9
(Betts is at 22.5, but that's based on only about 2 seasons in RF, plus there's the Fenway complexity.)

The notion that Clemente is still the best ever (on a rate basis) does seem unlikely. Really, it's incredibly impressive that he's still the 4th best (among those with substantial careers).

   82. Rally Posted: February 02, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5617916)
Clemente started winning gold gloves when he hit .351 and topped 20 homers for the first time. He was a great fielder (+51 TZ runs) from 1957-58 but not much of a hitter yet. We can excuse the 1957 season since it was the first year of gold gloves and it was an MLB award, not separate by league.

He kept winning gold gloves from that point to his final season. And it looks like he earned them all too, or at least was a reasonable choice, +31 runs for his final two seasons. He's a rare case of aging extremely well. Per 650 PA his TZ is better in his 30s than in his 20s. Dwight Evans had Clemente like ratings in his 20s, but his TZ wasn't so great in his 30s and he ended up playing a lot at 1B and DH.

Barfield through age 32 is ahead of Clemente, +161 to +135. But he just didn't last, out of baseball at 33 while Roberto had 5 more years of gold glove (+70) defense in him, and might have had more if not for the plane crash.
   83. Rally Posted: February 02, 2018 at 11:22 AM (#5617920)
Clemente is like the RF Willie Mays, playing exceptional defense past the age where most players decline or move off to other positions. But if you look at them at their peaks, there is a handful of players who rated just as well or better for shorter time periods.
   84. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 02, 2018 at 11:28 AM (#5617927)
This also becomes less likely over time. Today the talent is so elite on both sides of the ball that the probability of the same player being the best hitter and fielder at a position becomes very unlikely (but never impossible). So it's far more likely that this happened at times in the 1920s or 1930s than today.

This strikes me as probably true.

However...

And by the time you get to MLB, there is a negative correlation: the better you hit, the worse you field (on average).

Aren't there a lot of confounding variables? For starters, MLB to some extent selects for players who have polarized abilities in terms of offense vs. defense - if you're bad at one, you have to be really good at the other to stick in the majors. Also, I wonder how much of the perception of a negative correlation is merely received "wisdom" and/or bias? As in, many/most of the best hitters have been bigger, stronger guys who just looked like they wouldn't be good fielders. Given the historical inability to accurately evaluate defense, I would bet a lot of the "negative correlation" comes from that dynamic. On the flip side, look at how many little scrawny guys who couldn't hit were viewed as good fielders because, well, they had to be good at something and they had the whole "scrappy white guy = moral virtue" thing going for them.
   85. GuyM Posted: February 02, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5617938)
For starters, MLB to some extent selects for players who have polarized abilities in terms of offense vs. defense - if you're bad at one, you have to be really good at the other to stick in the majors.

Yes, of course. This is why hitting and fielding are negatively correlated in MLB.

Also, I wonder how much of the perception of a negative correlation is merely received "wisdom" and/or bias?

I can't speak to what the perception is (whose perception?), but the negative correlation is definitely real. You can see that simply by looking at the average offensive performance by position: LF/RF/1B hit much better than SS/C/CF.
   86. GuyM Posted: February 02, 2018 at 11:47 AM (#5617948)
Interesting fact about Jordan (who apparently didn't get enough credit for his fielding): he put up huge numbers while playing alongside Andruw Jones. That's one piece of evidence against the notion that Andruw's numbers were inflated by taking plays away from adjoining fielders.
   87. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 02, 2018 at 11:48 AM (#5617949)
But aren't you really arguing causation, i.e. that there is something about being a good offensive player that negatively affects a player's defense (or that good offense/bad defense are spurious effects of another set of variables) such that there's a reason, beyond pure percentages, that the top offensive player is almost certainly not the top defensive player? Maybe I'm misunderstanding you.
   88. GuyM Posted: February 02, 2018 at 12:03 PM (#5617973)
87: I'm not arguing that being a good hitter literally makes you a worse fielder (though that could be true on the margins, if height/weight beyond a certain point limits speed and/or agility). I'm just saying the two skills (hitting and fielding) are very weakly related by the time you get to professional ball, so the likelihood of one player being the best hitter *and* the best fielder at a position -- P(best hitter) * P(best fielder) -- is a very small number.
   89. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 02, 2018 at 02:14 PM (#5618135)
I'm just saying the two skills (hitting and fielding) are very weakly related by the time you get to professional ball, so the likelihood of one player being the best hitter *and* the best fielder at a position -- P(best hitter) * P(best fielder) -- is a very small number.

OK, I get you on that. But isn't that a little different than saying there's inverse proportionality? If two skills are weakly related, the odds of one person having both sets would be reduced, but you wouldn't necessarily get a negative correlation.
   90. DCA Posted: February 02, 2018 at 02:19 PM (#5618145)
At this point, the set of players who can be strongly argued to be the best ever at their positions both offensively and defensively is {Barry Bonds}. And even that takes some luck. If Andy Van Slyke doesn't get traded for Tony Pena, Bonds likely plays out a large chunk of his career in CF where he'd still be tops offensively but probably not among the best defensively.

A few other positions can be weakly argued:

Catcher (Bench might have had it at one point, but Piazza is much better offensively)
Third Base (Schmidt is good defensively but Brooks clearly better)
Center Field (Mays; but it's hard not to put Mantle and/or Cobb above him on offense)
   91. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 02, 2018 at 03:02 PM (#5618191)
90 - fair point. I don't think it really changes the nature of the discussion to broaden it out to, say, "among the top 3-5 ever both offensively and defensively," does it?
   92. Rally Posted: February 02, 2018 at 03:20 PM (#5618209)
Not sure how that discussion (best at both hitting and fielding) got started with Clemente. He was a great hitter, and in the conversation for greatest defensive RF, but he's clearly not the best hitting RF of all time. You've got Ruth and Aaron to start with. There are a bunch of others ahead as well, whether you go by batting runs or OPS+.

The guys who stay at a position for a long enough time to be considered among the alltime greats will tend to be both great hitters and fielders. If you have just the glove you'll only last until you lose a step. If you have just the bat they'll move you to an easier position, maybe even a no-position like DH when you get older.
   93. GuyM Posted: February 02, 2018 at 04:41 PM (#5618271)
I don't think it really changes the nature of the discussion to broaden it out to, say, "among the top 3-5 ever both offensively and defensively," does it?

I think this depends on whether we are talking about career fielding or peak fielding. If it's cumulative runs saved, then as Rally says it won't be that surprising to find guys who are top 5 in both. But if you are talking about peak fielding talent (which to most people I think is what comes to mind when we talk about "the best" SS/CF etc.), then I think it will still be relatively rare. Bonds is an exception here.

What's *really* unlikely is a player who is top 5 in both hitting and fielding, across all positions. I suppose Wagner fit the bill. But it seems unlikely we will ever see that in the modern game.
   94. DCA Posted: February 02, 2018 at 05:11 PM (#5618305)
What's *really* unlikely is a player who is top 5 in both hitting and fielding, across all positions.

For a career, maybe. But a lot of guys might have been there for a year or three. Basically, when a good glove SS/CF puts up an MVP season

Yount 1982
Trammell 1987
Ripken 83 and 91
A-Rod a couple of times
Bonds 1990-93
Trout 2012 if you believe the fielding stats
Rickey 1985

Not saying it's a sure thing, but you could argue it. Best chance today would be Lindor, probably. Trout hasn't looked like a top 5 CF glove recently, much less top 5 overall defensively.

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