• Grading Last Year's Free Agent Pitching Market

    In light of John's recent suggestion, I went ahead and compiled the results of the 2013 free agent pitching market. I excluded pitchers that ended up as relievers, and I excluded pitchers such as baseball's version of Gandolf the Gray (Jamie Moyer), who did not sign.

    The pitchers' results have been surprisingly better than I thought they'd be, but I'm not certain that we at Twins Daily would have gotten them right.
    I'm too lazy to look up all of the suggestions from last winter, but the names I remember being tossed around were either unrealistic (Grienke, Sanchez, etc) or have horribly performed (Jackson, Haren, Marcum). Some of the multi-year deals obviously need to be vetted in terms of their length; I suspect guys like Lohse and Greinke will not look so good at the end of their contracts.

    One interesting observation is that the Cubs took three gambles in the FA pitching market. One (Scott Feldman) has worked out very well for them. One (Scott Baker) flushed $5.5M down the toilet. One (Carlos Villanueva) may also net them a prospect. The Cubs are a large market team, so they essentially used $15M this offseason to buy some prospects in what is a lost year for them. Given their fan base will show up no matter how poor a product they put on the field, this isn't a bad strategy for the lovable losers.

    The Good:

    Zack Greinke: 8-2 3.36 ERA in 91 innings. Lost time due to an injury sustained in a fight.
    Jake Peavy: 7-4 4.19 ERA in 73 innings. Also spent time on the DL. Peripherals better than Greinke so far.
    Anibal Sanchez: 7-7 2.85 ERA in 98 innings. Though the record hasnít indicated it, he has pitched like an ace striking out more than 10 per 9 innings and walking fewer than 3 per nine innings.
    Hiroki Kuroda: 9-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 125 innings. Has pitched quite well for the $15M contract the Yankees gave him, though his K rate is significantly lower than the others; he may regress.
    Kyle Lohse: 6-7 with a 3.49 ERA for the Brewers. Peripherals donít look too good, but heís gotten the results thus far and justified his 3 yr./$33M contract.
    Ervin Santana: 6-6 with a 3.18 ERA for the Royals in 130 innings. Has to date justified his 1 yr./$13M contract and will likely be able to parlay that into a multiyear deal this offseason.
    Francisco Liriano: 9-4 with a 2.44 ERA in 81 innings for the Pirates. He signed a $1M deal with a second year option that will likely be picked up. He has been by far the best value deal of the class as heís pitched like an ace. He turned down an offer from the Twins, and Iíd say thereís a good chance he would not have pitched this well had he returned.
    Scott Feldman: 8-6 with a 3.86 ERA. Cubs were able to flip him and his 1 yr./$6M contract for prospects.
    Bartolo Colon: 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA for the Aís. Great value for $3M.

    The mediocre:

    Ryan Dempster: 5-8 with a 4.24 ERA in 110 innings for the Redsox. Heís been just better than league average, and not quite justifying the 2 year $26.5M contract.
    Jeremy Guthrie: 9-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 126 innings for the Royals. I hate to see how this will turn out in years 2 and 3 of his $25M contract.
    Joe Saunders: 9-8 with a 4.28 ERA in 120 innings. Great value from the $6.5M contract he got this offseason.
    Carlos Villanueva: 2-6 with a 4.16 ERA in 84 innings for the Cubs. Signed a 2/$10M contract and has earned his keep.
    Erik Bedard: 3-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 98 innings for the Astros. Could possibly be flipped for a prospect.
    Kevin Correia: I donít think I need to summarize this one. Heís earned his contract, though not much more.
    Jason Marquis: 9-5 with a 4.05 ERA. Probably the best of the mediocre group and cheap at 3M. I somehow doubt he was going back to MN.
    Roberto Hernandez: The player formerly known as Carmona is 5-10 with a 4.9 ERA for the Rays. Only cost $3.25M.

    The Bad:

    Edwin Jackson: 6-10 with a 5.11 ERA in 100 innings. He has not lived up to his potential.
    Brandon McCarthy: 2-4 with a 4.99 ERA in only 66 innings. He was cheap at 2/$16.5M, but has not pitched nearly enough, nor well enough to justify the contract.
    Dan Haren: 4-10 with a 5.61 ERA for the Nationals. Has not justified his 1/$13 Mcontract.
    Shaun Marcum: 1-10 with a 5.29 ERA for the Mets. At least only cost them $4M.
    Joe Blanton: 2-12 with a 5.53 ERA for the Angels. Not worth the 2/$15M contract he signed.
    Roy Oswalt: 0-4 with a 7.64 ERA in only 17 innings for the Rockies. He has pitched well in AA.
    Freddy Garcia: 3-5 with a 5.77 ERA for Baltimore. At least he was cheap.
    Jeff Francis: 2-5 with a 6.58 ERA for the Rockies. Cost $1.5M.
    Chien-Ming Wang: 1-1 with a 7.13 ERA for the Jays in only 24 innings. Singed for $.5M.
    Jonathan Sanchez: 0-3 with an 11.85 ERA for the Pirates.

    The ugly:

    Colby Lewis: Has been paid $2M to not pitch.
    Chris Young: He did not sign a major league deal, so this really didnít not hurt his team. He has not pitched well in AAA thus far.
    Scott Baker: I want get paid $5.5M to never set foot on a mound.
    Daisuke Matsuzaka: Signed a minor league deal and has yet to pitch in the majors.
    Carlos Zambrano: Signed a minor league deal and has yet to pitch in the majors. Has pitched well in the minors.
    Aaron Cook: Signed a minor league deal and is getting shelled in the PCL.
    Kip Wells: Signed a minor league deal and is getting shelled in the PCL.

    Breakdown:
    Good: 9 players
    Mediocre: 8 players
    Bad: 10 players
    Ugly: 7 players

    Since Ryan was clearly looking for shorter term deals, we can look back to see who were the best signings.

    The best contracts overall were for Liriano (who turned down an offer to return), Feldman, and Colon. Both signed short term contracts and have vastly outperformed them. We all know the enigma that is Liriano, so it doesn't bear repeating. There is significant question whether he would have pitched this well in Minnesota.

    Many of the mediocre contracts would have played out similarly to Kevin Correia. None of these guys would be major difference-makers, but most of them would be upgrades to our current rotation.

    Approximately 50% of the players that signed have performed well enough to earn their contracts. Given that a number of the good players, such as Sanchez, Grienke, Liriano, and Lohse weren't likely to come here due to either a large contract or problematic history, Ryan's odds of succeeding were less than that. The Twins would likely be in different shape had they signed Feldman, Colon, and Kuroda this offseason. These were not names that many were arguing for, and at 15M, Kuroda would have sucked up the entire budget. As a result, I'm not sure the posters at Twins Daily would have assembled a much better rotation than what Ryan did, and it most certainly would have cost more.
    This article was originally published in blog: A return to the 2013 FA pitching market half way through the season. started by diehardtwinsfan
    Comments 350 Comments
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      Wow,

      You guys just intpret the information in whatever way satisfies your position. The contracts of Lackey, Lowe, and Burnett when evaluated over the duration of the contract were all poor deals that did not have the intended impact. All performed poorly and/or were injured for prolonged periods. How about our own Johan Sanana. He had a couple great years but that huge investment has not paid off so well. How about Sabathia. He is already falling off and he is signed through 2017.
      Look, I don't doubt that their have been free agent busts (although Burnett probably doesn't fit that label, and Lackey could shed the label with a solid finish this year & next).

      But there have also been unqualified successes -- how good would the Twins of the 2000s have been if they had inked Mike Mussina at the beginning of the decade? Or on the other side of the ball, if they had ponied up for Jim Thome after 2002?

      Now, I wasn't even necessarily arguing for a big splashy signing for this season. We weren't likely to contend anyway, and maybe the available players weren't right. But it would be nice to eventually witness an actual quality free agent pitcher signing by our GM, even on a short-term cheap contract. It's easy to debate the particulars of why he didn't sign Sanchez, Feldman, or Dempster this year... but the fact is, he's never really signed a Sanchez, Feldman, or Dempster ANY year. Not when we were contending, not when we've had payroll to spare, never. Kenny Rogers, Bob Tewksbury, Mike Morgan... that's about it for his FA starter successes. Correia and Pelfrey are better than Ramon Ortiz or Jason Marquis again, but that's a pretty low bar.

      Any quality FA signing by TR would give me great confidence we could actual get out of this rut in less than the 5-6 years it could easily take relying on prospects alone.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      Because the SPs that could make a difference command long-term deals where they are likely to perform significantly below their current level. Any 5-6 year deals right now would have us relying on these Sps in their declining years just when the Twins should be serious contenders again.

      Go back and look at these deals. Sure, some of the really elite guys have worked out. Those guys gone to a handful of teams with significantly greater revenue than the twins. All in all, the track record for these SPs has been more bad than good, especially in the later years. Go back 5 years and look at the 2008 FA Sps.

      John Lackey
      2010 4.40 ERA / 215 innings
      2011 6.41 ERA / 160 innings
      2012 out
      2013 Rebounded nicely so far with a2.95 ERA

      AJ Burnett 5yrs / $82M / 4.80ERA over the 5 years

      Derek Lowe 4 yrs / $60M / 4.67 ERA over the 4 years
      I have actually done research on the 25 largest pitching contracts signed and let me say you are off base here. How about these guys?

      Pedro Martinez: 6 seasons, 212 ERA+, 194 IP/season
      Roy Halladay: 3 Seasons, 159 ERA+, 245 IP/season
      Roy Oswalt: 5 seasons, 121 ERA+, 191 IP/Season
      Mark Buerhle: 4 Seasons, 115 ERA+, 212 IP/Season

      I could continue if you really wanted but what it comes down to is on average over a 5 season contract you'll get 1 injured season, 1 below average season and 3 great to elite seasons. Over the course of the contract an ERA+ of 116 with an average of 200 IP/season excluding the injured year is mean.

      For those of you against signing an elite pitcher I have a question. What percentage of bottom of the barrel pitchers have produced an elite season? Is there a team that has gotten 3 elite seasons out of every 5 pitchers they sign?
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      I think you'll find less hypocrisy than you think. Most of us frustrated with the results were saying not enough done, though I'll admit I thought it would be better than it is.

      Ironically, I think, it's more likely you're seeing some people who took the stance that the rotation would be better are now saying, "Well, what could he have done?" using hindsight to justify their original position.

      For example....



      You use hindsight here, but there are other problems with the argument. For example, there are more than a dozen pitchers in the list that would have improved the Twins rotation, not just three. Some of us point out that fact repeatedly but it seems to get ignored.

      Also, if you're only going to go for low cost starters, you better be better at it than everyone else, but people are using it as an excuse as if it's not his fault that TR limited himself and then wasn't able to improve the rotation.

      Finally, what's silly is people saying we can't be critical of a GM who said starting pitching is the Twins #1 need and that we want to be competitive in September, but we're out of it in July and have the worst rotation in baseball. Seriously?
      Fantastic post.

      It's especially frustrating to me when I see claims that there were "only 2 or 3 realistic options" this past winter.

      Well, yeah, if you go and eliminate all the good options as "unrealistic" beforehand, sure.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Really? How about giving them credit for knowing who not to sign? Give them a little credit for having a scouting department. Considering the many negative comments in regards to those they did sign I find this comment a bit disingenuous.
      Not disingenuous at all. I really would rather have them try and fail then to not try at all. I'm not sure what you're arguing against really. You have claimed many times that there was no way we were getting Sanchez or Greinke or Jackson who are the only pitchers who signed long term deals. If they Twins had signed one of the other pitchers who failed but they were only signed to 1 or 2 year deals then what difference does it make? How is that worse than signing Pelfrey and Correia? It's not like Pelfrey and Correia have done anything to improve this club. We still have the worst starting rotation in baseball. We still aren't competitive. So what exactly would have been lost by signing one of those "failures"?
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      Not disingenuous at all. I really would rather have them try and fail then to not try at all. I'm not sure what you're arguing against really. You have claimed many times that there was no way we were getting Sanchez or Greinke or Jackson who are the only pitchers who signed long term deals. If they Twins had signed one of the other pitchers who failed but they were only signed to 1 or 2 year deals then what difference does it make? How is that worse than signing Pelfrey and Correia? It's not like Pelfrey and Correia have done anything to improve this club. We still have the worst starting rotation in baseball. We still aren't competitive. So what exactly would have been lost by signing one of those "failures"?
      I don't think you can say that they didn't try. They traded for Worley, Meyer, and May and signed Correia, Pelfrey, and Harden. They very much tried... Wether you or I like their effort is a completely different point.

      Also, Correia has improved the club. Pelfrey not so much as he clearly needed some recovery time, though of late, he's been pretty good.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      You guys just intpret the information in whatever way satisfies your position.
      The problem is the argument has got steered into some bizarre need to look at trades/signings only in hindsight and not take in the full picture. It's bizarre to me to use hindsight as the primary tool for predicting whether it's time to make a move now or later. If we're strictly going to use hindsight....wouldn't the Johan case tell us we should never do it? Afterall, here was a fairly young guy, without a ton of innings on his body, a perfect picture of health, AND he came at a relatively tiny price.

      Yet, but what most of the "defend Ryan no matter what" crowd is arguing would tell us that was a horrible move and it educates us how to proceed. I don't see a way we ever get a quality pitcher.

      1. Johan tells us we never trade for one, no matter how perfect it is.
      2. Don't sign any top flight pitchers because 1) you can't because you are too small market and 2) because they'll be bad by their 4th/5th year

      Alex said it perfectly, we heard from these same Ryan defenders that he'd surely be charging in on his white horse to fix the rotation, afterall, how could it not get better? And now, when it's not better we have excuses like: we can't ever do anything because we aren't a big enough market, nobody likes Minnesota, the top guys don't come here, middle guys want too much money and too many years, the stars have not aligned perfectly yet, we have to wait until there are somewhere between 7-30 "good" options right when we most need them in our rebuilding process, and on and on and on)

      Why can't we all just say - Ryan failed to accomplish his goal when there were options on the market, a goal that was easily attainable, and considerable resources to accomplish it? I don't see any other possible conclusion in fairness to all the facts.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      I don't think you can say that they didn't try. They traded for Worley, Meyer, and May and signed Correia, Pelfrey, and Harden. They very much tried... Wether you or I like their effort is a completely different point.

      Also, Correia has improved the club. Pelfrey not so much as he clearly needed some recovery time, though of late, he's been pretty good.
      I need to be more clear with my writing. I am only talking about their approach in FA. I appreciate what Ryan did in acquiring May, Worley and Meyer as it shows a willingness to try and improve this club for the future. I don't know if it will work out but the attempt is what matters to me.

      You are the second person tho claim that Correia has improved the club and I wonder how exactly the Correia signing will help this team return to contention?
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      I have actually done research on the 25 largest pitching contracts signed and let me say you are off base here. How about these guys?

      Pedro Martinez: 6 seasons, 212 ERA+, 194 IP/season
      Roy Halladay: 3 Seasons, 159 ERA+, 245 IP/season
      Roy Oswalt: 5 seasons, 121 ERA+, 191 IP/Season
      Mark Buerhle: 4 Seasons, 115 ERA+, 212 IP/Season

      I could continue if you really wanted but what it comes down to is on average over a 5 season contract you'll get 1 injured season, 1 below average season and 3 great to elite seasons. Over the course of the contract an ERA+ of 116 with an average of 200 IP/season excluding the injured year is mean.

      For those of you against signing an elite pitcher I have a question. What percentage of bottom of the barrel pitchers have produced an elite season? Is there a team that has gotten 3 elite seasons out of every 5 pitchers they sign?
      You are comparing extension guys to free agents. That is pretty meaningless. There is a reason guys are extended vs. allowed to hit free agency.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Fantastic post.

      It's especially frustrating to me when I see claims that there were "only 2 or 3 realistic options" this past winter.

      Well, yeah, if you go and eliminate all the good options as "unrealistic" beforehand, sure.
      I would argue there were 2-3 guys that moved the needle. They were signed by teams that were top five payrolls and playoff contenders. The rest of the options were more or less Correia.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      So, the State of Minnesota, Hennepin County and Twins fans everywhere were defrauded then?
      Of course they were. Every publically subsidized stadium is a massive fraud.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      You are comparing extension guys to free agents. That is pretty meaningless. There is a reason guys are extended vs. allowed to hit free agency.
      Right...because clearly those guys would have been terrible if they had chosen instead to go to free agency instead of resigning with their current team. Elite pitchers make it to free agency because they want to test the waters or because they pitch for a low budget team that cannot afford to resign them.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Seems pretty damning to me considering 2-3 "very good" options are pretty standard. I fail to see how this exit route is helpful. If the best you have is "we're just waiting for that one super awesome FA class when we have basically our choice of good options!"

      I'm not, in the least bit, hopeful.
      Perhaps we can accept the reality that free agency is more or less dead.

      Money is best used locking up players on the roster. Most national writers have arguing this for years.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      So that official Twins FO meme, from as recently as 2011, about being able to compete with the large market teams for talented players- now that we have a new ball park, can officially be laid to rest, then?
      Sure they can. It will just be in the form of locking up their own guys to extensions.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post

      You are the second person tho claim that Correia has improved the club and I wonder how exactly the Correia signing will help this team return to contention?
      It won't... That has been my point all along. Looking at what happened in hindsight tells me that just about any move that Ryan made would have shown at best marginal improvement. And I'd argue that with the exception of somehow managing to get Liriano, Colon, and Santana, none of the other signings would have either (and this ignores other questions like whether the money was there to get all 3 and whether Liriano would still be pitching this well).

      I said it before, and I'm not the only one, but I also think that Sanchez, Greinke, Kuroda and the other good aquisitions wouldn't have signed here for various reasons. We can look back right now and pick and choose whom Ryan should have signed, but the reality is that when we looked forward and said "sign this guy", no one got it right. Therefore, I find it pretty difficult to blame Ryan... not this time at least.

      Interestingly enough, Ryan was in on Liriano and Saunders, though he didn't get them.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      Right...because clearly those guys would have been terrible if they had chosen instead to go to free agency instead of resigning with their current team. Elite pitchers make it to free agency because they want to test the waters or because they pitch for a low budget team that cannot afford to resign them.
      Sure they make free agency. But I would personally respond to free agent examples with other free agent examples to make a valid comparison and to be relatively intellectually honest.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Sure they can. It will just be in the form of locking up their own guys to extensions.
      Like they did with Kubel and Cuddyer...
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      I have actually done research on the 25 largest pitching contracts signed and let me say you are off base here. How about these guys?

      Pedro Martinez: 6 seasons, 212 ERA+, 194 IP/season
      Roy Halladay: 3 Seasons, 159 ERA+, 245 IP/season
      Roy Oswalt: 5 seasons, 121 ERA+, 191 IP/Season
      Mark Buerhle: 4 Seasons, 115 ERA+, 212 IP/Season

      I could continue if you really wanted but what it comes down to is on average over a 5 season contract you'll get 1 injured season, 1 below average season and 3 great to elite seasons. Over the course of the contract an ERA+ of 116 with an average of 200 IP/season excluding the injured year is mean.

      For those of you against signing an elite pitcher I have a question. What percentage of bottom of the barrel pitchers have produced an elite season? Is there a team that has gotten 3 elite seasons out of every 5 pitchers they sign?
      If you wouldn't mind sharing your data, perhaps in a blog post, I bet a lot of us would find that interesting.

      Thanks,
      John
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Perhaps we can accept the reality that free agency is more or less dead.

      Money is best used locking up players on the roster. Most national writers have arguing this for years.
      If that's your position than I think you should just post that. "FA is not an option to improve this club". Rather than mask it in all these other arguments. Personally I wouldn't shut out any avenue because there are only three ways to add to your talent, but we can agree to disagree.

      Much of the discord happens because we are digging past layers of flimsy arguments for the real positions which have boiled down to self-defeat, omitting FA altogether, among others. Those positions may well have merit but I think their proponents hate to even say it because its quite revealing of the depths of their pessimism. That's the real irony, I hold Ryan accountable because I believe he truly can/could have improved this club and failed. Those defending him paint a very bleak picture - he can't fail ultimately because he really can't succeed.

      what on earth could be more negative and pessimistic than that? As a fan, I can't accept that level of self defeat.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      Like they did with Kubel and Cuddyer...
      These are terrible examples. Corner OFs hitting their decline phase that were replaced with minimal problems.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Perhaps we can accept the reality that free agency is more or less dead.

      Money is best used locking up players on the roster. Most national writers have arguing this for years.
      When a franchise has largely failed to produce anybody worth locking up, then some, or even most, of that money needs to be spent in free agency if a team is going to keep mumbling that it's not a rebuilding year, season after dreadful season.

      Free agency is far from dead elsewhere in the division, so it will probably come as a disappointment to Twins fans that they're essentially conceding that phase of roster construction.
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