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Thursday, April 05, 2018

Passan: What Charlie Blackmon’s deal says about the present and future of baseball

Passan takes a look at the Blackmon contract in the context of the slow winter market.

The question, of course, becomes less about Blackmon in that case and more about where the dollars that in the past might have gone to him go. Because over the last few offseasons, teams have made it abundantly clear the answer is not older players.

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 05, 2018 at 01:48 PM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: charlie blackmon, dollah dollah bills, y'all, rockies

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   1. Khrushin it bro Posted: April 05, 2018 at 02:03 PM (#5648712)
I hope this enables teams to retain more of their stars. Better to overpay a guy the fanbase loves than some joe shmoe who strikes out 5 times in his first home game.
   2. Batman Posted: April 05, 2018 at 02:12 PM (#5648717)
Uhhh, he changed his name to Giancarlo Shmoe a few years ago.
   3. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: April 05, 2018 at 02:20 PM (#5648727)
On the one hand, he's an absolute beast at Coors - and just merely good on the road... but OTOH, it's not like Coors is going away for the Rockies.

I have to admit - I have a bit of a grudge against Blackmon... The combination of speed + power + Coors had me chasing him my roto league going back to 2012. I gave up chasing him for 2014 - and he finally breaks out. I overpaid for him in 2016 (not that it wasn't a fine season, but I needed 2015's SBs... not the HRs). I took a pass on a reasonable auction price (coulda had him at $27) for 2017, and he goes bonkers.

I suggest Rox fans get a GoFundMe going to pay me off in exchange for never pursuing him again for my team because if I do, he'll go south in a hurry.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 05, 2018 at 02:21 PM (#5648728)
it's not like Coors is going away for the Rockies.
Hey, it's older than Turner Field.
   5. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 05, 2018 at 02:24 PM (#5648731)
Uhhh, he changed his name to Giancarlo Shmoe a few years ago.
This is Primate-quality stuff.
   6. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 05, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5648738)
On the broadcast last night, some of his teammates were talking about how great his work ethic is, and you can see that in his stats. This is Blackmon's eighth season in the majors, and he has increased his WAR in each of the first seven. Can anyone else make that claim?
   7. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 05, 2018 at 02:28 PM (#5648741)
I had Blackmon at the top of the "we won't be able to lure Harper to Atlanta" list of outfielders. Now I'm back to the fall back "Alex has a good relationship with Josh Donaldson!"
   8. Batman Posted: April 05, 2018 at 02:36 PM (#5648757)
This is Blackmon's eighth season in the majors, and he has increased his WAR in each of the first seven. Can anyone else make that claim?
If you go by hitting only, Babe Ruth came close. His first eight years were:
0.0
1.7
1.6
2.1
4.6
8.3
11.8
12.2

That third year cost him membership in the Charlie Blackmon Club.
   9. Blastin Posted: April 05, 2018 at 02:44 PM (#5648775)
Better to overpay a guy the fanbase loves than some joe shmoe who strikes out 5 times in his first home game.


Yeah, what a bum! He's definitely going to have a terrible season!

One game is a good sample size!

(What? Like, what?)
   10. Khrushin it bro Posted: April 05, 2018 at 04:42 PM (#5648892)
He got booed or so I heard.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: April 05, 2018 at 04:59 PM (#5648901)
It seems reasonable enough. It's 5 FA years for $94 M, possibly $102, takes him through his age 37 season and, if the article is correct, ages 36-37 are his options, not the team's. The Rox are paying for 10-12 WAR over ages 33-37 which seems somewhere between realistic and optimistic. I would guess that the number-crunchers don't like this deal all that much given the Rox already had control for 2018 and he's likely to project as near useless by 37 (although that's just an additional $10 M if he is near useless).

I suppose that's another way to look at the deal. The age 37 year is a player option at $10 with "escalators" that can take it to $18. I don't know how easy those escalators are to meet but if they don't kick in**, this is not that much different than a contract that runs through age 36 with an expensive team option for age 37 with a $10 M buyout. In short, it's close to a 4/$94 extension which is Upton/Heyward AAV which is pretty good money for those ages. Slightly better from the Rox perspective since he has to play to get the last $10 M.

Given the age, this is probably a better deal from the player's perspective than JDM's deal. Both technically have opt-outs but it's tough to compare the deals because JDM's opt-outs are worth a lot more while Blackmon is very unlikely to opt out at age 36.

** The way it's phrased at Cots, the escalators sound very easy to trigger, protecting against nothing but immediate career-ending injury. But they aren't phrased very clearly.
   12. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: April 05, 2018 at 05:12 PM (#5648913)
It seems reasonable enough. It's 5 FA years for $94 M, possibly $102, takes him through his age 37 season and, if the article is correct, ages 36-37 are his options, not the team's. The Rox are paying for 10-12 WAR over ages 33-37 which seems somewhere between realistic and optimistic. I would guess that the number-crunchers don't like this deal all that much given the Rox already had control for 2018 and he's likely to project as near useless by 37 (although that's just an additional $10 M if he is near useless).


IDK - Tom's mention of Blackmon's ethic is not the first I've heard... and again, the guy has gone from being a first-time full timer at age 27 to one of the better OFers in baseball. He'll almost certainly have to slide to a corner at some point in this deal - Coors isn't gonna be the sort of place where you want a resume manning CF - but it wouldn't shock me if he ends up being an outlier to normal aging curves.

My opinions are overly colored by roto-hindsight, I admit, but I'm done doubting... well, until I pay $38-40 for him at next year's auction and he immediately goes in the toilet.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: April 05, 2018 at 07:42 PM (#5648990)
Age catches up to almost everybody, no matter how hard they work. He's certainly been excellent the last two seasons but the two before that were quite average. Per bWAR, his CF defense and baserunning are already below-average which is not promising. Maybe he's one of the launch angle success stories.

He's nearly impossible to comp because of his weird career pattern. So instead, just looking at some guys from ages 33-37 who seem sorta similar ...

upside comps are probably Edmonds (19 WAR) or Hunter (19) ... or Kent (22 WAR) as a late-bloomer but a chunk of that is Rpos. Raul Ibanez (15 WAR) doesn't require Blackmon to hold onto his defensive value. Abreu 12, Granderson 10, Byrd 10 are all reasonable outcomes. You start getting into trouble with Werth 8, D Lee 8, Salmon/Holliday 7 ... then Vlad 5, Bernie 5, Cuddyer/Crisp 4. Plenty of hard-workers in there, no major slobs.

Anyway, it seems "fine." I don't think he'd have gotten quite this good a deal in the offseason but the Rox have a good chance of breaking even and some chance of coming out ahead.
   14. I Am Not a Number Posted: April 05, 2018 at 09:56 PM (#5649070)
This is Blackmon's eighth season in the majors, and he has increased his WAR in each of the first seven. Can anyone else make that claim?

Jason Giambi.
   15. puck Posted: April 05, 2018 at 11:24 PM (#5649128)
** The way it's phrased at Cots, the escalators sound very easy to trigger, protecting against nothing but immediate career-ending injury. But they aren't phrased very clearly.


According to Craig Calcaterra:



2023: $10 million Player Option, subject to various bonuses and escalators.

Those bonuses and escalators, which could bring the total value of the contract to $116 million break down like this:

Any season between 2018-2022 in which Blackmon finishes 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in the MVP Voting increases the 2023 salary by $2 million. Any season in which he finishes in 4th or 5th place increases the 2023 salary by $1 million;
If Blackmon has between 400 and 575 Plate Appearances in 2022, his 2023 salary escalates an additional $5 million;
Those two previous points notwithstanding, his 2023 base salary may escalate by no more than $8,000,000 in total due to incentives, so his max salary for 2023 is $18 million.


That that's a little weird. He doesn't get the $5million escalator if he has 600PA's in 2022? That doesn't seem right.
   16. puck Posted: April 05, 2018 at 11:31 PM (#5649132)
I figure part of this contract is some protection if Arenado leaves (hey fans, we signed someone...), and also will help them keep Arenado.

It's 5 FA years for $94 M, possibly $102, takes him through his age 37 season


It's close as he has a July 1 birthday, which is real close to the cutoff, but by bb-ref's standard, the guaranteed FA years in this deal are his age 32-34 seasons. The two options are 35-36. Considering Ian Desmond is making $22 million this season (with the overall deal averaging $14 million, and what they paid for the big 3 relievers this offseason, $21 million doesn't seem to bad. And it doesn't seem so long as to be especially onerous to them. (It's not Tulo or Helton's contract.)
   17. puck Posted: April 05, 2018 at 11:40 PM (#5649135)
I had Blackmon at the top of the "we won't be able to lure Harper to Atlanta" list of outfielders.


Plus Blackmon's from Georgia and a Georgia Tech guy. It did seem kind of natural.

Well, it's a nice story. Blackmon was not a heralded prospect. I figured he'd slide into Ryan Spillborghs' 4th OF role.

Here's a few blurbs from Sickels, who had him as a C+ prospect consistently:

2009:
10) Charlie Blackmon, OF, Grade C+: Great tools, hit well in debut, need to see against better pitching.


2010:
14) Charles Blackmon, OF, Grade C+: Excellent tools, hit well in Cal League but still raw for a college guy. Terrific glove in center.


2011:
11) Charlie Blackmon, OF, Grade C+: I like him a lot and expect he can be a good fourth outfielder with some chance to get beyond that.


2012:
12) Charlie Blackmon, OF, Grade C+: Perfect fourth outfielder profile: some power, some speed, makes contact, solid glove.
   18. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 05, 2018 at 11:45 PM (#5649137)
That that's a little weird. He doesn't get the $5million escalator if he has 600PA's in 2022? That doesn't seem right.
Yeah, I posted about that same thing when I first saw it. I thought maybe there was an additional incentive that kicks in at 576 PA, but there doesn't seem to be. Bizarre. Anyone have any idea what the rationale might be?
   19. Sleepless in Munich Posted: April 06, 2018 at 03:24 AM (#5649159)
Neither Cot's nor Calcaterra's explanation are really clear. Combining them I assume it's the following:


MVP bonuses (2018-2022)
For each finish 1-3 in the years 2018-2022: $2M each
For each finish 4-5 in the years 2018-2022: $1M each

PA (2022 only)
400-424 PA: $0.5M
425-449 PA: $1M
450-474 PA: $1.5M
475-499 PA: $2M
500-524 PA: $2.5M
525-549 PA: $3M
550-574 PA: $4M
575+ PA: $5M

Cap at $8M
His 2023 base salary may escalate by no more than $8M, so his max salary for 2023 is $18M.

   20. Batman Posted: April 06, 2018 at 11:01 AM (#5649240)
I saw a better explanation somewhere, but I can't find it. 19 is right that 575 PA is just the last bump he can reach.
   21. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 06, 2018 at 11:13 AM (#5649247)
Well, it's a nice story. Blackmon was not a heralded prospect. I figured he'd slide into Ryan Spillborghs' 4th OF role.


They essentially chose Blackmon over Dexter Fowler, which I thought was a terrible idea at the time. I was wrong.

On the other hand, this time would have looked a lot better the past couple of years with Blackmon in left, Fowler in center and CarGo in right, leaving Gerardo Parra out of it.

   22. stanmvp48 Posted: April 06, 2018 at 11:50 AM (#5649270)
What do you think of Blackmon as a defensive centerfielder?
   23. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 06, 2018 at 12:20 PM (#5649296)
He seems to get a pretty good jump on the ball and take good routes, although I don't think he's nearly as fast as the Rockies' announcers seem to think. His arm is so-so. I'd rate him about a C+.

The defensive metrics don't especially like Blackmon, but they never like Coors Field outfielders.
   24. stanmvp48 Posted: April 06, 2018 at 12:30 PM (#5649301)
I thought Fowler had a step more range and also had only a fair arm
   25. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 06, 2018 at 12:33 PM (#5649305)
Fowler was definitely faster than Blackmon.
   26. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 06, 2018 at 02:33 PM (#5649389)
The defensive metrics don't especially like Blackmon, but they never like Coors Field outfielders.
Fangraphs went back and did some adjustments to their defensive metrics post hoc for 2012-2016. Blackmon goes from being terrible to merely slightly below average.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: April 06, 2018 at 04:49 PM (#5649437)
Thanks for the correction on the age thing. Makes a difference, should improve it from the Rox' perspective. On defense, I don't know how b-r treats Coors OFs but they're hardly down on Blackmon, it's just -14 over the last 3 years. They really whack him with a -4 on the bases last year.

FWIW, Statcast put his 99th in sprint speed for 2017, in a many way tie -- Lindor, Michael Taylor, Betts, Marte suggest that's not exactly slow. Catch probability had him at -2 which seems pretty bad for a CF -- he's tied with Zobrist and Jay Bruce for example. The year before he was at zero, tied with Fowler, de Shields, Ozuna. Those suggest he's near the bottom of CF or above-average corner at the moment which of course is perfectly fine if he keeps hitting like this.
   28. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 06, 2018 at 11:45 PM (#5649593)
Fangraphs went back and did some adjustments to their defensive metrics post hoc for 2012-2016. Blackmon goes from being terrible to merely slightly below average.



Thanks, that makes sense to me.
   29. ReggieThomasLives Posted: April 07, 2018 at 01:33 PM (#5649696)
When Coors isn’t in your road parks, .276/.337/.447 is some damn good hitting.
   30. Hank Gillette Posted: April 08, 2018 at 04:00 PM (#5649914)
It seems reasonable enough. It's 5 FA years for $94 M, possibly $102, takes him through his age 37 season and, if the article is correct, ages 36-37 are his options, not the team's.


It’s hard to square that with the idea that teams are not willing to pay older players. They may have backed off a little, but $94 million is still serious money in my book.

If the teams are not spending a lot of money on older players, and they don’t have to play younger players a lot, then that’s just more money going towards bottom line profit.
   31. puck Posted: April 08, 2018 at 08:13 PM (#5650002)
Does an extreme hitters' environment like Coors help hitters develop? Not many Rockies hitting prospects have flamed out - Ian Stewart comes to mind. On the other side of the ledger are guys like Seth Smith, Corey Dickerson, who were cromulent, and Blackmon, who's been very good, despite not being very touted. I guess Dahl could fail, but when he's been healthy enough to get on the field, he's hit so far.

Makes having Parra and Desmond around that much more painful.
   32. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 08, 2018 at 08:42 PM (#5650022)

Makes having Parra and Desmond around that much more painful.


The biggest handicap this team has is that they've decided to put non-hitters at the traditional power positions of 1B and LF. Since he came to Colorado, Desmond has a 74 OPS+ and Parra has an 80 - any AAAA scrap-heap first baseman could do better than that.

If they'd put Dahl in LF and bring back someone like Mark Reynolds at first base, they'd have a shot at the division. As is, they're not going to win anything.
   33. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: April 09, 2018 at 08:32 AM (#5650133)
it's not like Coors is going away for the Rockies.

Hey, it's older than Turner Field.


I was surprised to discover that Coors is in the "older half" of MLB stadiums: built in 1995, it's the 13th-oldest stadium in the majors. (If, say, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Toronto's stadiums get abandoned/replaced, it'll be in the top 10!)
   34. Rally Posted: April 09, 2018 at 11:00 AM (#5650189)
He seems to get a pretty good jump on the ball and take good routes, although I don't think he's nearly as fast as the Rockies' announcers seem to think. His arm is so-so. I'd rate him about a C+.


Don't understand how announcers or anyone else can have an opinion on running speed. At this point it's like having an opinion on the weight of an object - irrelevant once you put it on a scale.

Blackmon's sprint speed was 28.1 last year. That's above average for all players, but among CF ranked 40th out of 62 qualifiers.

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