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Friday, March 10, 2023

Nationals, Keibert Ruiz Agree To Eight-Year Extension

The Nationals are in agreement with young backstop Keibert Ruiz on an eight-year contract extension that guarantees $50MM, as first reported by Wow Deportes (Twitter link). Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post (Twitter link) reports that the contract also contains two club options. The deal buys out three would-be free agent seasons and could extend the team’s window of control two more years if the options are triggered.

It’s a long-term commitment from the rebuilding club to a player they obviously consider their franchise catcher. Washington acquired the switch-hitting Ruiz at the 2021 trade deadline as part of the blockbuster that sent Trea Turner and Max Scherzer to the Dodgers. Ruiz and starter Josiah Gray headlined a four-player return. Both were upper level prospects and Ruiz would get a look as Washington’s primary backstop by the end of the ’21 campaign.

After playing in 23 games down the stretch, Ruiz got the nod as the Opening Day catcher last season. He played in 112 games and tallied 433 plate appearances, though his season was cut short when he had to be hospitalized after he was hit in the groin area by a foul ball. Before that unfortunate conclusion, Ruiz hit .251/.313/.360 in his first full season at the big league level. That offense was a little better than that of the league average catcher, with the league receiving a .228/.295/.368 line from the position.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 10, 2023 at 09:50 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: keibert ruiz, nationals

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: March 11, 2023 at 01:22 AM (#6120128)
At that money you can't really go far wrong. From Ruiz's perspective this looks quite good too. You never know if he turns into the next Realmuto of something. But this deal buys out 2 pre-arb, 3 arb and 3 FA year (plus the two options). Coming up on his first arb year, Sean Murphy just signed for 6/$73 which I think I thought was no bargain. Comping a very young C seems a challenge to me but will assume that Murphy be would a very, very good outcome. Over roughly the same service years, Christian Vazquez will make about $53 M and Ruiz gets that guaranteed now. Assuming there's a little bit of front-loading (small signing bonus or $1 M for each of the pre-arb years), that's not a bad spot to be in. I assume most starting young Cs are lucky to still be regular Cs 8 years on. If you're gonna give a team year 9 and 10 options, you might as well be a C who will be happy to survive long and well enough to get ripped off. :-)
   2. The Duke Posted: March 11, 2023 at 01:23 AM (#6120129)
This is it - they've got him locked up until he's 34. Maybe he can tack on a few million in those last three or four years but this basically is a career contract. Interested to see what they negotiated for the three final years
   3. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 11, 2023 at 10:24 AM (#6120161)
This makes sense for both sides because the contract is happening early enough in his career to still address a lot of risk on Ruiz's part. He had a solid rookie year in 2022 - but he still has two pre-arb years where he wouldn't make any money; where he could get hurt; or where he could demonstrate that what he did in 2022 is pretty representative of his ability.

If the Nationals waited until he had completed another pre-arb year or two before approaching Ruiz about a long-term deal, much of the incentive for Ruiz to sign such a deal is gone (or the money has to be a lot higher). I think teams often want to wait until they are pretty sure the player is going to be durable and quality before offering the money...but then it is putting all the risk on the player, and very little on the team.

This deal feels fair because the risks and rewards seem very similar on both sides.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 11, 2023 at 01:28 PM (#6120179)
Ruiz may have left some money on the table, but that assumes he could stay healthy until free agency. Not that easy for a catcher, The Nationals Wilson Ramos was headed to a huge free agent contract, with a 2016 All-Star & Silver Slugger walk year, only to blow out his knee late in the season chasing down a pop fly. He never made it to $50M.
   5. The Duke Posted: March 11, 2023 at 01:54 PM (#6120183)
So sportrac has this as 10/62.5 (including the two options), but they don't have the annual values. If the Nats weren't changing ownership they should have front loaded the cash so that his ending years would be low when they are back in their window. But with a change coming they probably just followed the projected arb schedule for the cash payouts. What would he have earned in his control years $15-20? So he gets 3 free agent years at $40-45 ish? If he's only so-so maybe his control years are more like $10 and then three years at 50-55?

Seems like a good deal for both teams. I wonder if the Nats will now try a Braves approach with all the young talent

   6. DCA Posted: March 11, 2023 at 03:11 PM (#6120193)
I'm not sure how much money Ramos left on the table. He ended up signing a 2-year deal after the 2016 season, and then was back on the market in 2018 coming off a similarly strong offensive season. If anything, his market value should have been even higher at the point. But he signed another two year deal, and was toast by the end of it, as catchers often are in their 30's.
   7. John Reynard Posted: March 12, 2023 at 04:55 AM (#6120228)
Ruiz left a lot of money on the table to get certainty. The first $50M is worth way more than the next $450M.
   8. The Duke Posted: March 12, 2023 at 11:28 AM (#6120237)
From Twitter: A note on the Keibert Ruiz contract: the free agency years of 2028, 2029 and 2030 carry salaries of $7M, $9M and $9M, respectively. There is a signing bonus and the second year has a higher salary than he would normally receive in a last pre-arb year. In short: it’s front-loaded.
   9. Ron J Posted: March 12, 2023 at 04:01 PM (#6120254)
#7 As long as he has reasonable health and a normal development path yes. Neither is exactly a lock.

I see it about the same way as your summary. Money beyond a certain point is essentially an accounting fiction. I don't know precisely where that point lies, but it's probably somewhere close to what he's guaranteed.
   10. John Reynard Posted: March 12, 2023 at 04:46 PM (#6120259)
I don't know precisely where that point lies, but it's probably somewhere close to what he's guaranteed.

It depends on the person in question's life goals usually. But, most people get 99.5% of the value from the first $20M. You can basically buy a perpetual upper middle class lifestyle with that and take multiple vacations a year as well without having to work unless you choose to do so.

I have just sold my private solo practitioner wealth management practice (I even had two MLB players as clients too, one a HoFer, the other a guy with a long-enough career to make real money at it, but wasn't a great player in anyone's mind....strangely, I got both as referrals from another client who owns a waste management firm.....athletes go to their garbage guy to find financial advice.....or was it just this guy?). I can say with decent confidence that unless you're looking to bend the world itself to your will, beyond $20M is basically gravy. I'd even go further and say beyond $5M is mostly gravy. But, that is post-tax money too. Given how athletes are taxed (and functionally taxed by agents as well), Ruiz is likely to only keep $15-20M of that $50M, even before living a lifestyle. If he's sensible though, he's basically got close to the $20M I'm citing, so, good for him.

I have foolishly undertaken a strange project of my own and have found that projects can easily be money pits. I recommend athletes stay clear of this stuff. Who knew fixing up a 32000 acre island's infrastructure would be so expensive? At least London is paying 1/3rd of the bill since its a UK dependency. In positive news though, if my project works out, it'll provide a model for self sufficiency with carbon neutrality in a scale as small as 32000 acres and 4300 inhabitants.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: March 12, 2023 at 05:23 PM (#6120262)
Ruiz left very little money on the table unless he's about to turn into Realmuto, Contreras, Murphy. I don't know where $450 M came from. And as Duke points out, they've got control through age 33 and he's not likely to make squat after that anyway. Last year only 4 teams (teams) got more than 2 WAR from C and that incl Sea at 2.1 and Atl at 2.2. The O's (Adley), Dodgers (Smith) and Cubs (Contreras) were next in line.

Will Smith will make $5.25 M in his first arb year -- is Ruiz gonna be as good as Smith? Contreras hit the FA jackpot this offseason (still only 5/$87.5) but had made just $22.5 M to this point. As mentioned, the first 8 service years of Christian Vazquez (7 WAR, -2 WAA, 85 OPS+) cost just $23 M and he was able to sign for 3/$30 this offseason (through age 34). Yan Gomes (18 WAR, 5.5 WAA) just finished his 10+ service year and has $38 M in career earnings with 1/$6.5 to go. Travis d'Arnaud (7 WAR, -2 WAA) just finished his 9th service year, total earnings of $34 (with $8 more coming), about $10 through his arb years. Even Realmuto through his arb years cost only $20 M ... then he hit the big jackpot of 5/$115.

So Ruiz comes out very well if he is a standard starting C like Vazquez/Gomes/d'Arnaud; he "left money on the table" if he turns out as good as Realmuto, Contreras, Murphy. I don't know anything about Ruiz but I assume the latter three are not particularly likely outcomes -- but if he does add some power then maybe so.

In short: it’s front-loaded.

With the exception of a monster like Tatis's contract (and maybe the Carroll contract), these contracts always are. It's part of the attraction for both player and team. With a signing bonus (doesn't have to be very big) and a little extra salary in the pre-arb year, the player gets to start living a bit of the good life immediately. Taken together with arb salaries, the team is usually paying the max for arb -- if the numbers you report are correct, Ruiz makes $25 M through his arb years -- more than Realmuto or Contreras, $4 M less than Murphy will make, probably close to Will Smith. That is, he's gonna get paid over the next 5 years like he's the best young C in the game without having to prove he's the best young C in the game. What's not to like?

The team makes it back through cheap FA years and cheap option years. Those first 2 FA years are often surprisingly cheap. Acuna makes the same $17 for his last 2 arb and first 2 FA years. Harris makes $10 in his last arb year then $10 and $12 (that one is really front-loaded) then a $15/$5 option followed by a $20/$5 option.

So for the player it's "no injury risk and you can buy your mom a house now" and for the team it's "we might have a huge bargain in 6-7 years." The only question here is whether a player like Ruiz is likely to be a huge bargain in 6 years. If he's Vazquez, Gomes, d'Arnaud then they will have paid him like a star C in his arb years only to be paying him something close to market rate for a solid C in his FA/option years (and that's if his knees still work.)
   12. BDC Posted: March 12, 2023 at 09:39 PM (#6120279)
At the rate I'm going, I figure I'll make my first $20 million well before my 245th birthday.
   13. John Reynard Posted: March 13, 2023 at 03:25 AM (#6120285)
I don't know where $450 M came from.

I was just making a point that the $50M is worth more to most people than the next $450M, which is putting a zero on the end of it (a factor of 10), this is true.

Ruiz just put up 2+ WAR at 23, an age when Sean Murphy was still in AAA. I think his chances to exceed Murphy are higher than you think, even if I think his chance to be Realmuto is slim.

I think Ruiz left money on the table. But, he did it for the right reason, certainty. That first big payout is worth more than everything that comes after it combined for most people.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: March 13, 2023 at 03:32 PM (#6120323)
Last year only 4 teams (teams) got more than 2 WAR from C and that incl Sea at 2.1 and Atl at 2.2. The O's (Adley), Dodgers (Smith) and Cubs (Contreras) were next in line.

D'oh! I was of course looking at a WAA table not a WAR table. Apologies for the confusion.
   15. The Duke Posted: March 14, 2023 at 10:29 PM (#6120445)
The 24-year-old will receive a $3MM signing bonus, with salary breakdowns as follows:

$1MM in 2023
$6MM in 2024
$5MM annually between 2025-27
$7MM in 2028
$9MM annually between 2029-30
Reports last week indicated the deal contained club options covering the 2031 and ’32 seasons, though the value of those provisions hadn’t previously been known. Heyman now pegs the option values at $12MM and $14MM, respectively. There are no buyouts on the options. That structure takes the maximum value of Ruiz’s deal to ten years, $76MM if both club options are exercised.

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