Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Three Million - The Line In The Sand

The Bucco bye-bye boys and what they’re worth today:

-- 1B Adam LaRoche supposedly turned down a 2-year/$13M $17M offer from Giants; San Fran and the O’s are said to be the only teams interested in him. He made $7.05M in 2009 with his last Pirate contract.

-- RF Xavier Nady signed a one-year/$6.65M with the Yankees for 2009, avoiding his last arbitration season, and then had TJ surgery. He’s a free agent this year.

-- RHP Matt Capps signed a $3.5M contract with Washington with $425K in bonuses.

-- LF Jason Bay inked a deal with the Mets for 4-years/$66M, including a vesting option for 2014 that could bring the total to $80M over five years. The contract contains a $17M option for 2014 that vests if Bay reaches 600 plate appearances in 2013 or 500 in both 2012 and 2013; both are easily attainable if he remains healthy.

-- RHP Jesse Chavez had a $402K contract in 2009. He won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2012.

-- LHP John Grabow became the first MLB free agent to reach a new deal when he signed a 2-year/$7.5M contract with the Chicago Cubs.

-- SS Jack Wilson signed with Seattle for 2-years/$10M and can earn $250K a year in performance bonuses. The M’s avoided the $8.4M option with a $600K buyout under Wilson’s old Bucco deal. He reportedly rejected a Pirate offer for two years and $8M.

-- The Giants swapped 2B Freddy Sanchez's $8.1M Pittsburgh option for a two-year/$12M deal. He supposedly turned down a 2-year/$10M offer by the Bucs.

-- RHP Ian Snell has a year and $4.25M remaining on his deal with $6.75M and $9.25M club options for 2011-12.

-- LHP Tom Gorzelanny is entering his first year of arbitration. He made $433K in 2009, and the Cubs have tendered him.
-- LHP Sean Burnett is arbitration-eligible this year, and the Nat’s tendered him a contract offer. Burney earned $408,500 in 2009.

-- LF Nyjer Morgan won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2012. He earned $411,500 in 2009.

-- CF Nate McLouth has $4.5M and $6.5M due to him from the Braves in the next two years, with a $10.65M club option ($1.25M buyout) for 2012.

-- LHP Damaso Marte signed a 3 year/$12M deal with the Yankees in 2009, after the Bronx Bombers turned down his $6M Pirate option.

-- RHP Salomon Torres made $3.333M in 2008 and retired in 2009, even though Milwaukee exercised his $3.75M option.

And this tells us what? Well, it sure draws the line in the sand – when you make $3M, you’re on the Bucco gonzo list, at least in this stage of the Pirates’ development.

So if we were Paul Maholm ($4.5M), Akinora Iwamura ($4.25M), Ryan Doumit ($3.55M) or Zach Duke (he made $2.2M in 2009 and is up for arbitration that's sure to net him more than $3M), we wouldn’t get real comfortable.

The first exception to the "trade down" rule was in Iwamura's case, when the team dealt Jesse Chavez, affordable and under team control until 2014, for a guy in his walk year with a real MLB contract.

We'll see about him; the Pirates say they'll try to resign him if he's a fit, but we suspect he's another July trade waiting to happen.

Still, it'd be nice to see a couple of players land here and plug a hole or two while the farm raises its crop. Maybe someone like, oh, Xavier long as he doesn't ask for $3M.

(Unless otherwise noted, the contract info was taken from Cot's Contracts.)


MarkInDallas said...

Just a correction...The LaRoche offer from the Giants was $17M, not $13...

You might have just been joking about the $3M, but I think that if you make that much and you aren't worth more than what you are getting paid, then Huntington is going to look to move you for pieces that could be worth more.

Huntington is apparently determined not to "overpay".

Ron Ieraci said...

Ah, Mark, with my fat thumbs, I knew I'd screw up one of the numbers. Good lookin' out.

And I wasn't joking about $3M. I don't think it's an overvalued figure in many cases, but seems to be the Bucs magic number.

Again, that's for this point in their development; I would hope in the future as they become more competitive that the contracts would reflect better performance.

MarkInDallas said...

How do you explain the fact that he re-upped Adam LaRoche at $7M last year? Why not just cut him loose? Obviously, they figured he was going to be worth something to them and another team if he played well enough - which he just barely did.

They offered Freddy and Jack more than $3M per year to play. Now, they didn't take it, but if it weren't for the "Jack wants Freddy to stay" thing, Wilson probably would have worked something out with them.

The Grabow price wasn't just an arbitrary $2.9M because that's all they want to pay per player price. They simply felt he wasn't worth more than 1 win.

If you take a look at the contracts they have offered, the Pirates are trying to pay $3M per WAR. That is absolutely clear when you look at the contracts they offered.

They figured Freddy's offer at 1.67 WAR and Jack's at 1.33 WAR. Adam LaRoche's $7M comes to 2.33 WAR, and he was actually worth 2.4 WAR (though hardly any of that came with the Pirates).

If you look at Freddy's $8M option, that would have been 2.67 WAR at $3M per. Freddy was coming off seasons of 3.2, 4.8 and 3.7 WAR when that option was signed. Then he had seasons of .3 and 2.3, and the option suddenly looked very expensive.

Jack just had seasons of 1.5 and 1.9 WAR, so assuming a 1.3 WAR average for the next 2 seasons seems pretty reasonable.

Sadly, the apparent $3M ceiling is simply a product of these players not being projected to be worth all that much in terms wins on the field.

Now, as far a Zach Duke et al...There's a good chance that Duke will indeed be traded in 2010, not because he's not worth the money, but because there are other options that will take his place that are just as good (or better) and cheaper, like Lincoln and Veal when he hits the rotation.

Ron Ieraci said...

Poorly stated on my part, Mark, and well stated on yours. What I meant to say is that when a player approaches a positive WAR value - I think 1.0 WAR translates into $3.5M contractually - is when the Bucs begin to sharpen their pencils regarding value and determine if a player is worth his agent's request - or not.

And while I'm not quite as sold on the database theory of economics, it's probably as defendable as anything other evaluation system.

Sorry about the confusion - it's not the $3M that triggers the movement; the $3M triggers the value/performance calculation.

MarkInDallas said...

Yes, I'll go with you on that for sure, although they might even start considering it before that.

Karstens was DFA'd because he was a super two and out of options and they felt they could get equal value on the open market.

Seems they aren't going to spend many nickles without thinking whether it's smart or not.

WilliamJPellas said...

Adam LaRoche is truly delusional if he honestly thinks he'll get more than $8.5 million per. I think he's been spending too much time with the deer and the antelopes!

Ron Ieraci said...

Hey guys - always nice to hear a little enlightened conversation. Mark, we'll see what the salary situation is when they finally have a settled lineup and how they fill the holes, maybe as soon as 2011. I'm just a little leery that they're too dependent on a computer profile without weighing the other factors in their value calculation, like need.

Will, I agree about LaRoche; I think he turned down a overpay. Who knows; maybe he dallied and it got pulled. And I'm guardedly optimistic about Tabata; I hope they're not rushing him.