It depends. I’ll get to that…
I watched Moneyball today. I read (and loved) the book twice–as I do with most of Michael Lewis‘ works–and I really enjoyed the movie. I’ll leave it at that and save you from the five billionth review. Anyway, here’s how I started a post on Jayson Werth‘s contact back in December, referencing (and providing a re-telling of) another of Lewis’ works, The Big Short:
When a [super agent] helped him [to sign a free agent] that seemed perfect in every way, [Mike Rizzo] asked the [agent]. “I appreciate this, but I just want to know one thing: How are you going to fu*k me?”
Heh-heh-heh, c’mon, [I’d] never do that, the trader started to say, but [Mike], though perfectly polite, was insistent… And the [agent] explained how he was going to fu*k him. And [Mike signed the free agent].
In other words, the Nationals got hosed. After his disappointing 2011 season, a season in which you’d have hoped he’d have held at least most of his value, it’s hard to argue that point. If his decline continues to be this rapid, the contract will be far worse than really any of us thought.
The way I arrived at my distaste of his deal, using Tom Tango’s framework, was to take his current WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and regress it over the life of his contract by about 0.5 WAR per season, 0.7 after age 34. I also assumed a current cost per win of about $5 million and an inflation rate of five percent per year.
Truth be told, I did the same thing for Carl Crawford, and I determined he could be worth around $140 million over the life of a seven-year contract–It looks like he has some work to do in years two through seven! But, for the record, I didn’t like either deal, even though the Crawford deal looked alright on paper (read Excel).
Why am I telling you any of this? Well, someone (@LoganDobson) suggested that they’d be willing to pay Jimmy Rollins $50 million to get him to San Francisco. He wants five years, so we’ll just assume that looks like $10 per year for five wonderful seasons.
My first reaction was… Well I thought it was absurd. Paying $50 million for the age 33-38 seasons of a player doesn’t exactly jump off the page as brilliant. But when I applied the Tango framework to test it–the very same I used to analyze Crawford and Werth (and Beltre)–it turned out to be fair value. I guess money just doesn’t buy you what it used to.
Here’s how it works out:
Rollins was worth around 3.7 wins this season according to both FanGraphs and Baseball-reference, the rare agreement between this quarreling couple. If he regresses by 0.5 wins in 2012, his age-33 season, then by 0.7 wins in years 2-5, he’ll be worth 8.8 wins over five seasons (3.0, 2.5, 1.8, 1.1, 0.4). In his first two seasons he’d be worth a surplus of about $8 million. In year three he’d be just about right, a dime. And in the final two seasons he’d probably be overpaid by about the same, a dime. Put it all together and he’s worth $49 million over five years.
Is Rollins worth $50 million over five years? Would the Giants be smart to go after him for this kind of money? It’s tough to say. I will say this, though: A shortstop that can both handle the stick and the actual position would be a welcome addition. You know, because Miguel Tejada couldn’t do either despite what we were told (and knew ourselves). And despite the fact that Rollins comes in the familiar veteran package, he won’t send Chris, Otis and I into cardiac arrest like Orlando Cabrera nearly did. We simply cannot handle another veteran of that ilk.
At least I can’t. Another one-year band-aid, this time in the form of one Alex Gonzalez or another, might be too much for me to handle. Unless, of course, the Jays are willing reverse their Yunel Escobar trade–Unlikely considering they’ve been the team pillaging the foolish most often lately.
Again, I’m not sold one way or the other, but sometimes something you can depend on is worth its weight in gold.
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