Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Off Season Winners: Sign Early!

*Over the next few days, Jorge Says No! will highlight some of the major winners from the off season. Even in this terrible economy, there were some lucky ones who did well! We'll highlight how and why each player wound up with a favorable deal.*

With spring training only two weeks away, there are still a number of quality free agents out there on the market. So many players came into this off season with high hopes of a huge deal, only to be let down by the deflating economy and terrible market. As it turns out, those players who signed early wound up getting the best contracts as teams gradually decided not to spend money.


-Damaso Marte: With a large group of left handed relief pitchers on the free agent market this season, Marte decided to quickly re-up with the Yankees. Even though he put up pedestrian numbers with the Yankees, Marte still received a 3 year/$12 million dollar contract that seemed to be in line with what quality relief pitchers should receive.

However, this market has proven to be a different animal all together. Left handed specialists are struggling to garner up interest as Dennys Reyes, Joe Beimel and Will Ohman remain unsigned. In years past, these guys would have been locks to receive long term deals, but now it appears likely that both guys might have to settle for one year deals.

Statistically, there is no difference between Marte, Ohman, and Beimel. Hell, Marte might even be the worst out of the three. However, because Marte immediately re-signed with the Yankees, he was able to get the big contract while the other guys sit back and wait for suitors.

-Edgar Renteria: When the Tigers acquired Renteria after the 2007 season, they expected Renteria to deliver huge numbers and provide solid defense at shortstop. Instead, the Tigers were stuck with an under performing defensive liability, who failed to live up to expectations.

Despite this, the Giants still decided to sign Renteria, who was not offered arbitration, to a 2 year worth $18.5 million bucks. That contract, which seems normal in most off seasons, now looks excessive as Orland Cabrera, who put up better numbers than Renteria in 2008, remains unsigned. Blame it on Cabrera's type A status, which obligates a team who signs him to give up their first round pick.

Either way, it's ridiculous that Cabrera is left on the sidelines while Renteria gets the big contract. The compensation rules need to be changed.

-Ryan Dempster: I have written about Dempster and the Cubs before: I think the Cubs overpaid for Dempster.

They were eager to strike a deal with Dempster without letting the market dictate his price like the Mets did with Oliver Perez and like the Braves did with Derek Lowe. As a result, both Perez and Lowe signed contracts that were much lower than what they originally anticipated at the beginning of the off season.

The reality of the situation is that I if the Cubs had simply waited longer for the market to develop, I bet they could have gotten a better deal than the 4 year/$52 million dollar contract they ultimately gave Dempster.

But you gotta give Dempster and his agent credit: they were able to maximize his earning potential in a terrible market. How many other players (that are not Yankees) can say that!

So what does this list show us about this off season?
-Sign early, market was good (or at least not as bad...)
-More likely to get a better contract if you quickly resign with a team (interesting...)
-Teams are willing to pay more when they don't have to give up draft picks

UPDATE (6:22 PM): Looks like our friends over at the Orange County Register Angels blog have picked up the article and written a response to it using PECOTA and statistical analysis. Even if they disagree with me, this is some interesting stuff. Definitely worth a read.


Anonymous said...

PECOTA says no.

Josh said...

Anon: Interesting article. I'm honored to be quoted in the Orange County Register blog!

As for the content, I never said that the contract was outlandish. I just think that there is no plausible why Matre should get a three year deal while the other two might have to settle for a one or two year deals.

If you look at Marte's stats over the past few seasons, there is nothing that sticks out and screams this guy must be signed immediately. Sure he has a nice K rate, but besides his 2007 numbers with the Pirates, Marte has simply been above average.

Good player on a bad team.

I would be happy to have any of these three on my team. But I still contend that there is nothing about Marte that warrants a three year deal over the other two guys...and hell, I'll even throw Dennys Reyes into the mix there as well.

thanks for the comment, Anon.