Friday, December 9, 2011

Matt Moore: The Pre-Arb Contract Extension and Brett Lawrie

Every team in baseball should do this. Today, the Tampa Bay Rays announced they had locked up Matt Moore through at least 2016 at $14M, with three club options tacked on the end.

Why do players sign these types of deals? Sure, they get the pleasure of a guaranteed multi-million dollar deal, but they also forgo the chance to earn hundreds of millions of dollars as soon as their six years are up. Moore is a pitcher, which increases his chance of injury of failure to make adjustments, either fate of which many top pitching prospects have fallen to in recent years, notably Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Homer Bailey, and to a point, Edwin Jackson.

It's one thing to follow what Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and recently Matt Kemp have done, and another altogether to sign a player with a next-to-nothing amount of Major League service.

Deals of this kind operation under the assumption that if the player doesn't perform anywhere near expectations, the team will be saddled with a dead-weight contract. But, what kind of standards does Moore have to play to to live up to his salary? The answer: very low ones. Using my number of $2.4M per WAR (as Moore did not sign the contract before a full market), Moore will have to produce 5.8 wins. He could easily do that in 2012-2013 combined, if the Rays plan on giving him a starting gig right away.
I suppose the player's willingness to sign this type of contract depends on the individual player, but the Toronto Blue Jays need to sign Brett Lawrie to a similar contract, and soon. Sure, they probably won't have any problem retaining him if they wait a few years and using the Ryan Braun template, but this is about the reward of saving a ton of money at a disproportionate risk.

1 comment:

  1. I realize that this post is relatively old, but I'm interested in the economics of baseball (I write about it at I'm also particularly interested in Brett Lawrie. I had been holding onto him forever in my keeper league as my "third baseman of the future" and seeing him as a future 25Hr/.280 average kind of guy year to year. I finally flipped him for some starting pitching which I desperately needed. As a Brewer fan, I'm worried that he's going to prosper too much and make the Shaun Marcum deal eventually look terrible (though since he got them to the playoffs in 2011, it's hard to quantify the value of that)...

    Anyway, cheers