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Tuesday, January 02, 2018

MLB hot stove: Cold-hearted economics freeze out elite free agents

Sure, that will end sometime before the start of the season. All-Star first baseman Eric Hosmer has a seven-year offer from the San Diego Padres, which would make him the highest-paid player in franchise history. Outfielder J.D. Martinez has a five-year offerfrom the Boston Red Sox. Yet, neither have signed a contract.

The top two starting pitchers, Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, have been wined and dined, but still haven’t found a team willing to meet that six- or seven-year asking price.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 02, 2018 at 02:32 PM | 70 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: free agents

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   1. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 02, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5599706)
LOL @ Padres. Wow, that's truly terrible.
   2. Kiguchi Posted: January 02, 2018 at 02:59 PM (#5599713)
Trevor Cahill is only 29?!
   3. The Ghost of Logan Schafer Posted: January 02, 2018 at 03:10 PM (#5599730)
It's hilarious that Jake Arrieta expects someone to pay him $27.5 million at age 37/38. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?
   4. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 02, 2018 at 03:15 PM (#5599734)
I love Jake, truly.... but I think he and his agent (Boras, no?) expect people to buy his 2015 season when clearly, that simply isn't happening again.

I get that it sucks, but that's the way the MLBBA makes it work out.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: January 02, 2018 at 03:28 PM (#5599746)
It seemed like there was about to be a flurry of activity before Christmas, but agreements couldn't be reached and nothing happens during the holiday week, so the flurry will be some time this month. I don't know if we need to ascribe larger narratives, but I guess the writers have to write something.
   6. TomH Posted: January 02, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5599747)
Wow, Machado and Harper can't get big contracts!? Oh wait... he meant THIS year's free agents. Oh. That word "elite"; you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: January 02, 2018 at 04:24 PM (#5599780)
At the right money, 7 years for Hosmer is not an issue. That only takes him through age 34 and there are plenty of reasons to think he'll still be a "useful" player through 33-34 (and plenty of reason why he might not be). He remains a difficult player to assess the "true" talent of -- he's had that on/off pattern that always makes it difficult plus his fancy defensive numbers and his defensive rep are nearly polar opposites.

It's extremely unlikely he'll ever be a great player but that's only a problem if you play him like a great player. That he might be bad enough to release at age 33 is only a problem if you didn't get enough surplus value out of the first 5 years of the contract.

To be clear, depending on where you put $/WAR over the next 7 years, the "right" money is probably in the 7/$125-140 range at best. I will also agree that Hosmer is not a good enough player that you should need to commit 7 years to -- you might regret not having him around for the first 2-3 years but you wouldn't after that. I'll also not that given the Padres have Wil Myers under a long-term contract already (5 more years plus an option), signing Hosmer seems ... is sub-optimal sufficiently polite?

A couple months ago I came up with a dozen comps for Hosmer and saved that P-I report -- I'm not sure what the criteria were other than expansion era and 1B/LF/DH. Those 12 comps seemed pretty good to me -- Grace, D Lee, Konerko, Joyner, Chambliss, Morneau, Matthews Sr, Burrell, Baylor, Sexson, Casey and Carlos May.

May is the extreme case -- he started falling apart at age 26 and didn't see his age 30 season so I'm reasonably confident we can ignore him but he was the one true, total bust. Every other player was still active at 33-34. They are roughly evenly split as 1, 2 and 3-WAR players over these 7 years with Morneau as a 3-WAR player who got hurt. So most likely you'll get 9-16 WAR out of Hosmer through age 34 but a reasonable shot at 20.

That's possibly where the question of his true defensive value comes into play. The gap between his Rfield and his GG rep is probably one win a year -- good defense is a large part of what puts Grace (+49 Rfield) and DLee (+22 after rated below average in the first half of his career) at the top of the comp list and is most of the gap between them and Konerko (-22). Chambliss, Joyner and Morneau were also credited with above-average gloves. Those guys plus Konerko are the top half of the comps list; the players in the 9-12 WAR range were giving away .5-1 win a year on defense according to Rfield.

That suggests that if he really is an above-average 1B then the expectation is probably along the lines of 14-20 WAR over the next 7 years; if he's below-average as Rfield suggests, then you'll probably be lucky to get 14 WAR out of him. Over the next 7 years, 14-20 WAR is probably priced around 150-180 -- Chris Davis's contract give or take.
   8. shoewizard Posted: January 02, 2018 at 05:18 PM (#5599813)

Current search:
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1947 to 2017, Younger than 28, Bats LH, Played at least 50% of games at 1B, (requiring OPS+<=121, ISO>=.135, ISO<=.190, Rfield<=0, WAR/pos>=.01*oWAR and At least 3000 plate appearances), sorted by greatest Adjusted OPS+

Era and style of play probably have something to do with the differences in HR and SB, but Driessen and Hosmer look pretty similar to me in a lot of ways.

Montanez less so, but still interesting to throw in there.

Player            OPS+  ISO Rfield WAR/pos oWAR   PA   AB    H  2B 3B  HR  BB  SO  SB CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Dan Driessen       112 .142  
-17.6    10.3 11.8 3243 2840  776 135 20  76 351 402 112 39 .273 .353 .415 .768
Eric Hosmer        111 .155  
-22.0    14.1 16.2 4393 3991 1132 206 16 127 360 714  60 19 .284 .342 .439 .781
Willie Montanez    107 .139  
-26.1     3.9  6.4 3154 2838  777 149 17  71 253 418  17 25 .274 .333 .413 .746 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/2/2018.
   9. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 02, 2018 at 06:17 PM (#5599836)
The real problem with Hosmer seems to be that he's got far better press than his play probably deserves... It's like he hits all those "intangibles" sweet spots perfectly - the numbers-say-undeserved gold gloves, certainly some memorable "big game" moments, those big moments + essentially being the leader on a team that overperformed compared to expectations, etc.

Maybe there's something to it - a fraction of a win here or there if you add it all up that we can't measure - but I'd hate to pay for it.

Or - maybe there is in the KC water that makes players come down with that every other year, Saberhagen disease.... i.e., he's gone 1.5 WAR, -0.4, 3.5, 0.8, 3.6, 1.0, and 4.0 in his career.

That's a pretty interesting progression - both his "good" years (the odd-numbered ones) and his "bad" years (the even-numbered ones) do consistently nudge upwards.... his good years get slightly better and his bad years slowly climb into at least non-disasters.

   10. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 02, 2018 at 06:28 PM (#5599839)
I love Jake, truly.... but I think he and his agent (Boras, no?) expect people to buy his 2015 season when clearly, that simply isn't happening again.

I mean, it's almost as if teams have come around to the belief that "take the best year of my career, and then pay me at that rate until I'm pushing 40 and will most likely be a sub-replacement-level albatross" isn't a particularly attractive offer, no matter what Boras puts in the binder.
   11. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 02, 2018 at 06:38 PM (#5599844)
I mean, it's almost as if teams have come around to the belief that "take the best year of my career, and then pay me at that rate until I'm pushing 40 and will most likely be a sub-replacement-level albatross" isn't a particularly attractive offer, no matter what Boras puts in the binder.

I still think Charlie Finley's idea to make all players free agents at the end of every season was kind of an interesting thought, as it'd make contracts far more truly meritocratic than they are today. IIRC Marvin Miller breathed a huge sigh of relief when Finley's idea was shot down by the other owners before it ever got to the stage of a formal offer, and it's easy to see why.
   12. Zach Posted: January 02, 2018 at 06:42 PM (#5599846)
I think the defensive concerns about Hosmer are very overblown. If you just watch the guy playing, with no preconceptions about what the defensive stats are saying, you will end up much closer to the "multiple Gold Gloves" side of the fence than the "worst first baseman in the league" side. To paraphrase John Updike, it would take a miracle of placement to be that fluid and visibly competent for an entire year without doing anybody any good.
   13. Zach Posted: January 02, 2018 at 06:53 PM (#5599852)
There might be a generational divide here (internet generations, not birth generations). Pre-WAR sabermetricians tend to focus on offensive stats, and tend to view defensive stats as somewhere between a pleasant daydream and a minefield where overconfident rookies meet their doom.

Post-WAR sabermetricians tend to... look up WAR on Fangraphs and consider the issue settled. Or so it seems from the peanut gallery.

   14. ReggieThomasLives Posted: January 02, 2018 at 09:27 PM (#5599882)
There is a difference between fluidity and range. Jeter never had many errors.
   15. Spahn Insane, stool of Tarantino Posted: January 02, 2018 at 09:54 PM (#5599887)
I don’t get the fuss over Hosmer, and never have. It’s not just that he’s been so inconsistent it’s hard to get a read on his true talent level—it’s that even at his absolute best he’s just not that good. I’ll acknowledge the possibility that, given his youth, he might not have peaked yet (apart from all the silly intangible shite and the high draft pick pedigree), but I’m glad it’s not my team that’s about to pay him what it’ll cost to find out.
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: January 02, 2018 at 10:30 PM (#5599900)

There is a difference between fluidity and range. Jeter never had many errors.


True, but Jeter was being compared with other shortstops, who also looked fluid and moved well. Hosmer is being compared with a lot of guys who simply don't look as athletic and move as well as he seems to.

I have no trouble believing that Jeter was much, much closer to his stathead rep on defense than his popular one. I'm much less certain about Hosmer (or, for that matter, first basemen in general).

   17. Spahn Insane, stool of Tarantino Posted: January 02, 2018 at 10:32 PM (#5599901)
Per mlb.com, the Cards are going after Hosmer. As a Cub fan, I wish them success in their pursuit. One-up those Pads, boys!
   18. Walt Davis Posted: January 02, 2018 at 11:08 PM (#5599905)
#8 ... FWIW, Driessen had 10 WAR, 0 WAA from ages 28-34 in a bit less than about 5 full seasons of PT. Per bWAR, he remained solid on the basepaths and with the glove, lost a good chunk of PT to the 81 strike and fell apart at age 33. He fits in the lower rung of the comps I came up with -- obviously not the desired outcome but not a FA disaster.

#13 ... I'd say it's more like 3 camps, not related to age/saber history ...

1) I don't have any good idea how good a defender this guy is but folks who work really hard at it say he rates as "X" ... better than any number I can come up with.

2) All defensive stats are unreliable to let's assume they contain no info and ignore them.

3) The defensive stats I don't believe are obviously nuts but I won't mention that for players that I like.

It's sensible to downplay outrageous numbers that come out of nowhere and I wouldn't be surprised if regularly crazy Rfield numbers are over-stating things ... but consistently well above-average Rfield is enough for me to consider a guy a top defender and try to value him accordingly. FWIW, while the Heyward contract is looking worse and worse, it's because his bat has completely collapsed at ages 26-27 while he's remained an excellent defensive player. In his particular case, the supposedly more reliable offensive projections turned out to be crap while the defensive ones seem spot on.

it’s that even at his absolute best he’s just not that good

That seems a bit harsh. Sure Hosmer's not THAT good but nobody seems to think he is -- just one AS game (the year all the Royals made it) and some lower ballot MVP love (2 mentions, best finish 14th). Nobody is mistaking him for Rizzo or anything. But, at his best, he's been a 3.5-4 WAR player ... possibly even a 5-WAR player in 2017 if his defense is average or better (4.8 oWAR, won the GG). If Hosmer is going to give a team about 17-18 WAR over the next 5 years then 7/$150-180 is reasonable.

I personally wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pole and I see even less reason to make concessions in terms of money/years to win him over but I can see how a team could view him as a young, solid player who will age well ... I actually kinda think he is a young, solid player who will age well. But I don't want to overstate things. From 21-27, Justin Upton had 24 WAR, 22 oWAR; for those ages, Hosmer is at 14 WAR, 16 oWAR. That's a big gap and Upton has ended up around 7/$150 (5/$106 in his recent extension). If 7/$150 is "fair" for Upton then Hosmer probably shouldn't do any better than about 7/$100 ... which means you'd never sign him for 7 years anyway.

I'm pretty sure I'd rather have Moustakas, especially since nobody's talking about him so seems like he's going to be pretty cheap. And unless SD has a 3B prospect I don't know about (quite possible), SD should be much more interested in him too.

   19. QLE Posted: January 02, 2018 at 11:22 PM (#5599907)
#12 and #13- I'm not sure how these arguments serve as a defense of Hosmer, in one major regard:

Even if we ignore arguments concerning defense and set WAR to the side, we're left with a guy whose OPS+ has never been higher than 132 and has twice fallen below 100, doesn't walk much, seems to have no speed, has marginal power at best, and whose batting average frequently has not been sufficient to make up for these issues. Among first basemen whose careers started at around the same time, he's clearly inferior to Goldschmidt, Rizzo, and Freeman, and the one advantage he has over Brandon Belt is durability.

To a degree, Hosmer is the Steve Garvey of our time- except that Garvey's seven-year peak (1974 through 1980) was considerably better than the seven years we've seen so far from Hosmer. Garvey's been a sabermetric punching bag since the dawn of sabermetrics- it should not be a surprise that Hosmer would get the same reaction.
   20. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 02, 2018 at 11:36 PM (#5599912)
Hosmer is being compared with a lot of guys who simply don't look as athletic and move as well as he seems to.

Is that really the case now? Median 1B seems pretty athletic to me. They're just aren't a bunch of slow-footed, lumbering 1B who are absolutely terrible anymore. And one of them (Tommy Joseph) is out of a job for 2018.

This isn't Lake Wobegon. Not everybody can be a little bit above average.
   21. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 02, 2018 at 11:39 PM (#5599913)
I'm pretty sure I'd rather have Moustakas, especially since nobody's talking about him so seems like he's going to be pretty cheap. And unless SD has a 3B prospect I don't know about (quite possible), SD should be much more interested in him too.

Padres just acquired Headley for 3B. Not sure that the upgrade from Headley to Moustakas is going to be worth the free agent premium, even if they get him at a bit of a discount. And then there's the question of exactly what to do with Headley.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: January 03, 2018 at 12:38 AM (#5599916)
Median 1B seems pretty athletic to me. They're just aren't a bunch of slow-footed, lumbering 1B who are absolutely terrible anymore.


Perhaps a little more than they used to be, but not terribly so. Hosmer sure strikes me as more nimble than Yonder, Miggy, Napoli, Abreu and a few others, certainly more than you would say about Jeter vs. the AL shortstopping field.

And I didn't say I believe he's well above average. Just that I'm more likely to believe his defense falls in the middle of his reputation and his metrics than I am about the aforementioned Jeter.
   23. Sunday silence Posted: January 03, 2018 at 07:59 AM (#5599927)
Walt's posts bring up an interesting, non Hosmer, related point: How do we see the future value of WAR?

Walter seems to be in the camp that says WAR will inflate gradually perhaps only a Million or so in the next say 5 years.

BUt here on BTF and in other forums, you often see people routinely argue that "Player X is worth $100 M cause even if he's only a 2 WAR player WAR will continue to go up."

People argue like this quite often. Where is the truth and do we have any evidence that the price of WAR will go up? For instance doesnt the luxury tax sort of impose an artificial ceiling on salaries?
   24. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 03, 2018 at 08:53 AM (#5599940)
BUt here on BTF and in other forums, you often see people routinely argue that "Player X is worth $100 M cause even if he's only a 2 WAR player WAR will continue to go up."


IDK.... seems like we've been using 7-8 mil per WAR for about 5 years now, so it seems like we're seeing stagflation not inflation.
   25. McCoy Posted: January 03, 2018 at 09:36 AM (#5599947)
I've argued it before but no team is dropping 18 to 25 million a year for a league average FA. Teams just don't do that.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2018 at 09:42 AM (#5599949)
I've argued it before but no team is dropping 18 to 25 million a year for a league average FA. Teams just don't do that.

MLBTR reprorts that Hosmer has offers of 7/140 from SD, and 7/147 from KC. Apparently some teams do.
   27. McCoy Posted: January 03, 2018 at 09:47 AM (#5599950)
Except they don't think he is going to put up 2.5 WAR next year.
   28. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 03, 2018 at 09:47 AM (#5599952)
While he's under-water career-wise -- as you might expect given his odd/even WAR numbers, Hosmer goes a bit worse than one WAA below even in his even-numbered years and a bit better than one WAA in his odd-numbered years (career high 1.7 WAA last year).

It all depends on whether you think that he's Jeckyll, Hyde, or splitting the difference between the two...

   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2018 at 09:57 AM (#5599955)
Except they don't think he is going to put up 2.5 WAR next year.

That's just as dumb.
   30. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 03, 2018 at 09:58 AM (#5599957)
At the right money, 7 years for Hosmer is not an issue.


This is true, but people don't actually care. I mean, Nick Markakis as $11m per year is actually not a bad deal in today's market. But, ya know. No one wants a guy just making what he's paid.
   31. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 03, 2018 at 09:59 AM (#5599959)
Digging into his advanced batting metrics -- the value differentials look like they're entirely a matter of higher BABIPs in odd-numbered years. His ISO is fairly consistent - or least, somewhat linear/doesn't follow the every other year trend. Nothing else - beyond the obvious follows/proxies you'd expect based on +/- 30-50 points or so in BABIP - follows his every other year trend.

Looking at batted balls on FG -- he does seem to have a higher LD% in his good (odd-numbered) years, but that's the only variance I see there.
   32. McCoy Posted: January 03, 2018 at 10:01 AM (#5599962)
Hey, somebody has to sign Gary Matthews Jr.
   33. Rally Posted: January 03, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5600010)
BUt here on BTF and in other forums, you often see people routinely argue that "Player X is worth $100 M cause even if he's only a 2 WAR player WAR will continue to go up."


If $/WAR inflates, that still makes no sense, especially for the kind of player we have to pay open market price for (i.e., not service time controlled). Such players will almost always be over 27, so their WAR is declining. You might be justified paying him 20 million for 1 year, but players who have options don't like one year deals. So you have to look at him as a 1.5 WAR player in year 2, 1.0 in year 3, and useless by year 5. So even if his value is 20 million per year right now, no way you've want to pay 100 million.

The exceptions to the rule of free agents being older than 27 are the guys who were good really young and likely superstars once they hit the market. Like Machado and Harper, who will be 26 on opening day 2019. The only other free agents under 27 are the non-tender players who their current team doesn't even want for a one year paycheck.
   34. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 03, 2018 at 11:26 AM (#5600031)
I think that at some point the cable rights bubble is going to pop, and then teams that banked on the $/WIN value increasing indefinitely are going to get caught with a ton of dead money on their books.
   35. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 03, 2018 at 11:28 AM (#5600035)
I mean, Nick Markakis as $11m per year is actually not a bad deal in today's market.


It's still kind of a bad deal in that a deal that's on the $/WIN baseline is more valuable for an elite talent than a pedestrian one because there are a lot more of the latter than of the former.

And also because of the opportunity cost. It locks the Braves into a one-win everyday player, and restricts their ability to pay for someone better.
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 03, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5600044)
IDK.... seems like we've been using 7-8 mil per WAR for about 5 years now, so it seems like we're seeing stagflation not inflation.

Where's the flation in that?
   37. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: January 03, 2018 at 01:00 PM (#5600131)
We probably shouldn't be looking at $/WAR so linearlly, anyway.
1) Teams pay (and should pay) more per E(player wins) for high win players than low win players.
2) The replacement level fluctuates throughout the year -- it's higher in the offseason than once rosters are locked down.
   38. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 03, 2018 at 02:21 PM (#5600215)
Morneau is a great comp, I think; possibly John Olerud, too. I'd been comparing Hosmer to Adrian Gonzalez for years but at this point I don't see Hosmer as capable of putting up 30-40 HR seasons.

If Hosmer stays healthy, I think he'll return enough value to make a seven-year deal worthwhile.

-- MWE
   39. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 03, 2018 at 02:34 PM (#5600227)
I think that at some point the cable rights bubble is going to pop, and then teams that banked on the $/WIN value increasing indefinitely are going to get caught with a ton of dead money on their books.

Bingo, except most of the cable contracts are long-term so it will take a while for the effects to be widely felt and it will hit teams at different times. But if/when it pops, what we're going to see is a team without a long-term contract playing with considerably less money than other teams. Teams that have lucrative long-term deals with large media companies are probably safe. For example, unless Charter Communications goes bankrupt, the Dodgers are going to continue to get their $335M/yr or whatever.

The team that might be the first to get a disappointing regional cable deal is the Miami Marlins. Paying $1.2B or whatever for the team was basically a gamble that they could secure a highly lucrative television deal in 2020. Between changing dynamics in cable as well as the rapid dismantling of the Marlins, that doesn't seem to be a particularly good bet.

It's not out of the realm of possibilities that the expiration of a cable deal could force a team to divest itself of expensive talent in the future, not unlike what we've seen with the Marlins this off-season. Of course, the Marlins didn't lose a revenue stream; they were just horribly mismanaged under Loria.
   40. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 03, 2018 at 02:48 PM (#5600243)
Morneau is a great comp, I think; possibly John Olerud, too.

Eh, Hosmer hasn't produced anything close to Olerud's 1993 season (age 24). Actually, Hosmer's best season (4.0 bWAR in 2017) was just a little more than half as many WAR as Olerud's 1993 (7.7 bWAR).

As discussed at length in past threads, Hosmer doesn't really have any good comps because literally every other 1B with as many PAs as him pre-FA have been light years better offensively. Remember, he's actually been a below average player (-1.2 WAA) over the course of his career.

Giving a below average 1B (or league average, if you want to discount his Mendoza-esque season) 7 years is just nuts. Only slightly less nuts is giving him over $20M AAV. Best of luck to Padres, Royals, or whatever team saddles itself with that albatross of a contract.
   41. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: January 03, 2018 at 03:02 PM (#5600258)
We've been betting that player salaries are going to drop since 1973, and we keep losing. I'm betting that they're going to go up, and I'm not going to stop until they actually stop going up.

And the Marlins were not mismanaged under Loria. His plan was to run a low-expense team and make a profit through revenue sharing. It worked out splendidly.
   42. Nasty Nate Posted: January 03, 2018 at 03:04 PM (#5600261)
Giving a below average 1B (or league average, if you want to discount his Mendoza-esque season) 7 years is just nuts. Only slightly less nuts is giving him over $20M AAV.
Apologies for being pedantic, but giving 7 years is only nuts because of the high AAV. Or to put it another way, the crazy part would be guaranteeing Hosmer $140m - but once you do, you might as well get as many years as possible out of him.
   43. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 03, 2018 at 04:04 PM (#5600331)
Apologies for being pedantic, but giving 7 years is only nuts because of the high AAV. Or to put it another way, the crazy part would be guaranteeing Hosmer $140m - but once you do, you might as well get as many years as possible out of him.

Well sure, there's some AAV at which a 7 year commitment becomes trivial. I'm confining my consideration to something approaching market rate.

The fundamental questions are what is Hosmer's baseline for his age 28 season and what his rate of decline will be. Boras apparently thinks (or at least is advocating) the floor should be 4 wins (what he was worth in 2017). That's ridiculous--he's more like a 2-3 win player (Steamer has him at 2.6). Still remaining is the question of how quickly he'll decline.

There's a pretty good chance that we've already seen the best season that Hosmer is going to put up. So let's assume that he has something approaching a normal aging pattern for a 1B. Then we're looking at something like (assume no inflation for simplicity):
- age 28: 2.5 ($20M value, at $8M/win)
- age 29: 2.5 ($20M)
- age 30: 2.5 ($20M)
- age 31: 2.0 ($16M)
- age 32: 1.5 ($12M)
- age 33: 1.0 ($8M)
- age 34: 0.5 ($4M)

Or 12.5 wins ($100M of value if $8M/yr).

Of course, Hosmer has far more variance than the typical 28 year-old free agent (also not driven by health concerns), but that doesn't help his case for a better-than-average aging curve. Basically Hosmer is guy that I wouldn't mind having under contract for the next couple years, but in my view he'll be a mediocre player in his early 30s.

If you set the baseline higher or assume a more Graceful (pun intended) age curve, then you'll get a different result. But it's hard for me to see how he's going to provide anywhere close to $140M in value or worth a roster spot in the final years of that contract. And there's virtually no chance that he provides any surplus value at something like $140M/7yr. He's just not that good a player.
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2018 at 06:58 PM (#5600481)
I think that at some point the cable rights bubble is going to pop, and then teams that banked on the $/WIN value increasing indefinitely are going to get caught with a ton of dead money on their books.

Why do we think MLB would earn less selling its product a la carte?
   45. Captain Supporter Posted: January 03, 2018 at 08:22 PM (#5600505)
1) I don't have any good idea how good a defender this guy is but folks who work really hard at it say he rates as "X" ... better than any number I can come up with.

2) All defensive stats are unreliable to let's assume they contain no info and ignore them.

3) The defensive stats I don't believe are obviously nuts but I won't mention that for players that I like.


No. 1 is just a way of saying that unreliable stats should be considered more or less reliable because people worked hard on them. Hard work does not necessarily lead to right answers. How about simply being very aware that they are unreliable and rather than ignoring them, reference them but always take the unreliability into account when drawing conclusions from them?
   46. The Duke Posted: January 03, 2018 at 09:33 PM (#5600524)
This all sounds like the Jason Heyward discussion. I feel for the team that makes the same mistake - and I hope it’s not the Cards
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2018 at 09:25 AM (#5600611)
This all sounds like the Jason Heyward discussion. I feel for the team that makes the same mistake - and I hope it’s not the Cards

It seems fundamentally different to me. With Heyward, the advance numbers were saying he was a 6 WAR player, worth a $200M deal, and lots of people (myself inlcuded) were saying "whoa, no RF with a 115 OPS+ can be good enough on D to be worth 6 wins".

Here, the advanced stats and projections are saying Hosmer's just a tick above average, but teams are racing to pay him like a star based on I don't know what.
   48. PreservedFish Posted: January 04, 2018 at 09:53 AM (#5600626)
teams are racing to pay him like a star

It's only like two teams though, right? The Padres and Royals so far. Makes sense for the Royals to be interested (and despite the fact that they built a wonderful team recently, they're not known for being the craftiest organization out there), and the Padres are one of the most aimless and moribund organizations. And Boras is a wizard.

Hosmer's working off a 4 WAR year, better than that if you like his defense. He's young for a FA. He's athletic and in good shape. He's got a pretty good batting eye. He's always been seen as a player full of potential. We've seen plenty of players parlay one fluke year into a nice contract.

Seems to me that Boras is doing the damn best he can to leverage Hosmer's recent success and "potential" into somewhat inflated offers from the dumbest of teams.



   49. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2018 at 09:56 AM (#5600628)
It's only like two teams though, right?

Right. But isn't it always only two teams that are involved in the big overpays? Were there 4 or 5 teams willing to match Heyward's contract?
   50. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2018 at 11:43 AM (#5600732)
There are now refutations about the reports of the Royals and Padres supposed offers: https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/eric-hosmer-multiple-7-year-offers-royals-padres-rumors-free-agent.html
   51. PreservedFish Posted: January 04, 2018 at 11:58 AM (#5600753)
If it's two dumb teams then I don't think it's quite appropriate to say that "teams are racing to pay him like a star." There are undoubtedly many, many teams that have the same view of Hosmer as we do here.

For the record I've stated a bunch of times that I think it's quite likely that Hosmer will be a fine acquisition and will play well, consistent 3+ WAR. I think he's a no-brainer for $100M (say 4 years @ $25M). So I guess it's not surprising to see him pull in as much as $140M.
   52. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 04, 2018 at 12:03 PM (#5600758)
There are undoubtedly many, many teams that have the same view of Hosmer as we do here.

Well, no more than 28.
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5600773)
For the record I've stated a bunch of times that I think it's quite likely that Hosmer will be a fine acquisition and will play well, consistent 3+ WAR. I think he's a no-brainer for $100M (say 4 years @ $25M).

But bat only players, with mediocre bats, just don't get paid like that. They certainly don't get locked up long term.

I really can't see giving Hosmer more than Santana or Encarnacion got.
   54. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 04, 2018 at 12:15 PM (#5600774)
There are now refutations about the reports of the Royals and Padres supposed offers


Yeah, it sounds like SD is willing to go to 7 years but not to $20M AAV. And KC is maybe willing to match but not beat that. Boras of course wants more years and more AAV, but reports of multiple teams having lost their minds over Hosmer just may be a tad bit premature.
   55. PreservedFish Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:12 PM (#5600944)
That Hosmer is 28 years old is significant. Santana will be 32. (Encarnacion was older still.) And Hosmer just had a better offensive year than Santana has ever had, believe it or not.

I mean, I know it's crazy, I guess I'm just trying to argue that it's not super crazy, just regular crazy.
   56. jmurph Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:27 PM (#5600958)
That Hosmer is 28 years old is significant. Santana will be 32. (Encarnacion was older still.) And Hosmer just had a better offensive year than Santana has ever had, believe it or not.

I mean, I know it's crazy, I guess I'm just trying to argue that it's not super crazy, just regular crazy.

Yeah I understand the lack of enthusiasm for Hosmer, but the Santana love strikes me as equally odd.
   57. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:34 PM (#5600969)
Yeah I understand the lack of enthusiasm for Hosmer, but the Santana love strikes me as equally odd.

He's a 3 win player every year.
   58. BDC Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:34 PM (#5600970)
That Hosmer is 28 years old is significant. Santana will be 32

Yes, Santana will be guaranteed about $20M a year through age 34, and Hosmer at 7/140 would be guaranteed $20M through age 34. That's maybe not the right way to look at it, but it's one way to look at it :)
   59. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:38 PM (#5600973)
Yes, Santana will be guaranteed about $20M a year through age 34, and Hosmer at 7/140 would be guaranteed $20M through age 34. That's maybe not the right way to look at it, but it's one way to look at it :)

The main difference is that we have more information about Santana (namely how he performed in his age 28-31 seasons), whereas all we can do is project Hosmer's. And Hosmer's late 20s/early 30s are more uncertain than normal because of the high variance of his previous seasons.
   60. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:40 PM (#5600978)
Yes, Santana will be guaranteed about $20M a year through age 34, and Hosmer at 7/140 would be guaranteed $20M through age 34. That's maybe not the right way to look at it, but it's one way to look at it :)

A 3 win player at 31, has a far better chance of being worth 3 wins at 34, than a 3 win player at 28 has of being a 3 war player at 34.
   61. jmurph Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:41 PM (#5600980)
He's a 3 win player every year.

Sure, he's also about to turn 32. I'm not sure I'd want his contract, either.
   62. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:43 PM (#5600981)
Sure, he's also about to turn 32. I'm not sure I'd want his contract, either.

I'm just saying, there's a lot less risk on a 3 year deal than a 7. Even with an older player.
   63. jmurph Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:47 PM (#5600988)
I'm just saying, there's a lot less risk on a 3 year deal than a 7. Even with an older player.

Yeah I get that, theoretically you probably don't want to give anyone 7 years. But what would make sense for a guy like Hosmer, at his age, for 4 or 5 years?
   64. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 04, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5600993)
Yeah I get that, theoretically you probably don't want to give anyone 7 years. But what would make sense for a guy like Hosmer, at his age, for 4 or 5 years?

I wouldn't extend him a contract for more than $64M/4yr. Only going to commit multiple years if there is a significant AAV discount given his high level of uncertainty.
   65. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2018 at 04:02 PM (#5601007)
Yeah I get that, theoretically you probably don't want to give anyone 7 years. But what would make sense for a guy like Hosmer, at his age, for 4 or 5 years?

It's more his ability level than his age. 4 years makes sense. I just don't want to lock into a guy who frequently put up below average seasons in his 30's.

You sign a 6 WAR player for 7 years because it's hard to get 6 WAR players, so that's the price you play. Every year there are 3 WAR 1Bs available. Why do I want to lock one up?
   66. jmurph Posted: January 04, 2018 at 04:05 PM (#5601008)
I'm searching for comparable recently signed contracts. Wil Myers (he's really missing some letters in that name, for the record) is getting 22.5 per year for his age 29-31 seasons and Hosmer has, eyeballing it, 3 years better than his best. I don't know, the relative youth makes the Hosmer thing tricky, as well as the career year. It's not like it's super late for a guy to have a breakout year at age 27, is it? Especially if he already had a couple solid years in the recent past? Presumably not a path for superstardom, sure.

   67. jmurph Posted: January 04, 2018 at 04:09 PM (#5601010)
Every year there are 3 WAR 1Bs available. Why do I want to lock one up?

Hmm I think there aren't, though? I'm skimming through contracts here (I've never actually played with this before, it's great, you can sort by year signed).

I'm not trying to be argumentative, just honestly exploring this. Again for the record, I wouldn't want Boston to give him 7 years 140. And I get the case for no long term contracts to non-elite players.
   68. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: January 04, 2018 at 10:49 PM (#5601177)
He's got a pretty good batting eye.


Is that really true? His career high in walks is last year's 66. In today's game, that's not anything to take note of. I'm not sure it's anything to take note of in any recent iteration of the game. His eye isn't good enough that he can have a bad BA year and put up a good OBP.
   69. SoSH U at work Posted: January 04, 2018 at 11:32 PM (#5601193)
And Hosmer's late 20s/early 30s are more uncertain than normal because of the high variance of his previous seasons.


I've been wondering if that's true. Does an inconsistent past make a player harder to project/more likely to continue to be inconsistent? In other words, is he consistent, or has he simply been inconsistent, but we shouldn't forecast more of the same?

   70. DanG Posted: January 05, 2018 at 08:15 AM (#5601244)
Similar 1B to Hosmer ages 25-27:

Player          WAROPSRfield   PA From   To
Wally Joyner    10.0  124    9.5 1970 1987 1989
Joe Judge       10.0  119   
-6.0 1900 1919 1921
Kent Hrbek       9.8  125    3.5 1866 1985 1987
Mark Grace       9.6  115   12.0 1961 1989 1991
Tony Clark       9.5  125    2.5 1963 1997 1999
Lee May          9.1  123    4.0 1916 1968 1970
'Eric Hosmer     8.7  119  -13.0 2005 2015 2017'
Willie Upshaw    8.7  119    9.0 1936 1982 1984
Don Hurst        8.3  121   
-5.0 1842 1931 1933
Richie Sexson    8.0  123   
-2.2 1926 2000 2002
Andres Galarraga 8.0  126    2.5 1623 1986 1988
Derrek Lee       7.9  125  
-14.5 1956 2001 2003
Mark Trumbo      7.5  115    8.0 1837 2011 2013 

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