• 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. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Precisely. And it goes deeper than that, RE: rather than the prolonged and eternal angst about trading Santana and Liriano and having little to show for their efforts, look at how the Rays deal with their top SPs. Matt Garza is a perfect example, instead of getting hosed, like the Twins did when they sent Garza to the Rays, the Rays got Chris Archer, Sam Fuld and Hak-Ju Lee.

      They also were unafraid to shop Shields and get maximum value in return. What the heck, they are even shamelessly shopping David Price as we speak.
      The Rays definitely know how to lock up early and how to sell high. The flip side is that if the Twins followed this message there are many on this site that would be extremely critical. They would be hating the Twins for being cheap. Can't have it both ways. Personally, I would follow their model but we would be able to keep a couple more top tier guys as our revenue is 40-50M more than the Rays.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      The Twins gave up a lot more to get those assets than the Cubs did to get their assets.
      But the assets the Twins received are also far superior.

      Good trade for the Cubs. Good trade for the Twins.
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Good comparative breakdown. But.......

      The Cubs also got two slots for the International Draft from these moves, that helped them in locking up the #1, #3 and #22 rated players. If Strop continues pitching anywhere close to his current lights out level, he too is a very cheaply acquired asset and cheap forward- cost asset, either to the Cubs team or as a trading chip down the road. And Arrieta is basically a much cheaper costing repeat-version of the bet they made on Feldman.

      And they stand a much better chance of gaining value in a trade for Villenueva than the Twins do in trading Correia.
      Strop and Arrieta both have some level of upside, but that's been discussed to death already. My point was from a pure $$$'s standpoint, I'm not sure those two are worth the extra $7.5M the Cubs spent -- especially in relation to the overwhelming love they are getting here for it.

      Even if we add the $388k Int'l slot, that crumb isn't what got them the #1, #3, and #22 rated Int'l players and it seems a bit disingenuous to insinuate that it did. None of those three you cited signed for less than $1.625M.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      How much more credit do you want people to give him for the Span and Revere trade? Seems most everyone on this board has said he did a good job with those trades.
      The board is acting like he wasn't aggressive nor creative last offseason. I would consider that both aggressive and creative.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      The board is acting like he wasn't aggressive nor creative last offseason. I would consider that both aggressive and creative.
      1) What was creative in doing a deal with a club that had been pining for Denard Span for the last 3 years?

      2) What was creative in doing a deal with a club that called out of the blue and made TR an offer he couldn't refuse?

      Kudos to TR for acting aggressively with these 2 deals and doing what had to be done to change the direction of the club back in the right direction, but I see no creativity on his part in the process. And thie Twins situation required, and had the room available in financial terms to be even more aggressive.

      The Cubs are being far more creative and aggressive in digging out of a much deeper hole- and admitting publicly that they are in full-rebuild.
    1. Thegrin's Avatar
      Thegrin -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      1) What was creative in doing a deal with a club that had been pining for Denard Span for the last 3 years?

      2) What was creative in doing a deal with a club that called out of the blue and made TR an offer he couldn't refuse?

      Kudos to TR for acting aggressively with these 2 deals and doing what had to be done to change the direction of the club back in the right direction, but I see no creativity on his part in the process. And thie Twins situation required, and had the room available in financial terms to be even more aggressive.

      The Cubs are being far more creative and aggressive in digging out of a much deeper hole- and admitting publicly that they are in full-rebuild.
      If and when May and or Myers don't turn out to be Major League pitchers, you will probably be complaining about Ryan's "poor judgement". Being a Major League General Manager is a tough job. You need to take risks and some people will be critical no matter what you do.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by jay View Post
      Strop and Arrieta both have some level of upside, but that's been discussed to death already. My point was from a pure $$$'s standpoint, I'm not sure those two are worth the extra $7.5M the Cubs spent -- especially in relation to the overwhelming love they are getting here for it.

      Even if we add the $388k Int'l slot, that crumb isn't what got them the #1, #3, and #22 rated Int'l players and it seems a bit disingenuous to insinuate that it did. None of those three you cited signed for less than $1.625M.
      Not disingenuous at all. In the world of International bonus money, #388K is hardly a "crumb". Had the Cubs stopped their flurry of multiple international signings before their recent signing of Tseng, these additional acquired monies would have kept the Cubs from going over thresholds levels for maximum overage signing penalties. This "crumb" would have kept the Cubs in the game for signing international players in both 2014 and 2015 for more than $250K.

      That strategy changed in the last few days, as apparently Tseng's potential availability became more possible (and simultaneous apparent unwillingness by the Twins to outbid the Cubs), and changed the Cubs initial strategy at the time of the Feldman trade to only sign players within the spending limits, and accept the penalties for the $1.059M overage of their pool limit as an acceptable tradeoff for acquiring Tseng's potential talents.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thegrin View Post
      If and when May and or Myers don't turn out to be Major League pitchers, you will probably be complaining about Ryan's "poor judgement". Being a Major League General Manager is a tough job. You need to take risks and some people will be critical no matter what you do.
      Did you miss the part of my post that said: "Kudos to TR for acting aggressively and doing what had to be done to change the direction of the club back in the right direction"?
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      The Cubs are being far more creative and aggressive in digging out of a much deeper hole- and admitting publicly that they are in full-rebuild.
      I'll grant you aggressive and creative, but remains to ve seen if they are effective. And I'm not sure Cubs were in a bigger hole when Epstein took over compared to the Twins and Ryan.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Not disingenuous at all. In the world of International bonus money, #388K is hardly a "crumb". Had the Cubs stopped their flurry of multiple international signings before their recent signing of Tseng, these additional acquired monies would have kept the Cubs from going over thresholds levels for maximum overage signing penalties. This "crumb" would have kept the Cubs in the game for signing international players in both 2014 and 2015 for more than $250K.

      That strategy changed in the last few days, as apparently Tseng's potential availability became more possible (and simultaneous apparent unwillingness by the Twins to outbid the Cubs), and changed the Cubs initial strategy at the time of the Feldman trade to only sign players within the spending limits, and accept the penalties for the $1.059M overage of their pool limit as an acceptable tradeoff for acquiring Tseng's potential talents.
      I'm not sure of your math here. Cubs were over before they got Tseng. The Twins would have had to go over their budget to acquire him, not sure that is the best strategy. It remains to be seen if this is wiser long term strategy. Cubs will have a decent sized pool and won't be able to sign a guy above $250k, not sure if taking yourself out of next year is worth that.
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