• Pitching and Playoffs: Farm, Free Agency, or Trades?

    How did the most successful teams of 2013 make it to the playoffs? Was it through the Farm System/Draft, Free Agency, or Trades? Any guesses which was the most expensive of the 3 areas? And which was the most successful (regardless of salary)?

    Below are the 2013 rotations which are ordered by post-season rotation order and then secondarily, for the #4 & #5 starters, by their contributions during the regular season.

    Boston Red Sox

    1. Jon Lester – Farm system – $11.625M – 15-8 W-L 3.75 ERA 213.1 IP 177 SO
    2. John Lackey – FA - $16.5M – 10-13 W-L 3.52 ERA 189.1 IP 161 SO
    3. Clay Buchholz – Farm system – $5.5M – 12-1 W-L 1.74 ERA 108.1 IP 96 SO
    4. Felix Doubront – Farm system – $519K – 11-6 W-L 4.32 ERA 162.1 IP 139 SO
    5. Ryan Dempster – FA – $13.25M – 8-9 W-L 4.57 ERA 171.1 IP 157 SO


    Detroit Tigers


    1. Justin Verlander – Farm System - $20M 13-12 W-L 3.46 ERA 218.1 IP 217 SO
    2. Max Scherzer – Trade - $6.7M – 21-3 W-L 2.90 ERA 214.1 IP 240 SO
    3. Anibal Sanchez – Trade - $8.8M – 14-8 W-L 2.57 ERA 182 IP 202 SO
    4. Doug Fister – Trade - $4M – 14-9 W-L 3.67 ERA 208.2 IP 159 SO
    5. Rick Porcello – Farm System - $5.1M 13-8 W-L 4.32 ERA 177 IP 142 SO


    Oakland Athletics


    1. Bartolo Colon – FA - $3M – 18-6 W-L 2.65 ERA 190.1 IP 117
    2. Sonny Gray – Farm system - $490K – 5-3 W-L 2.67 ERA 64 IP 67 SO
    3. Jarrod Parker – Farm System (trade w/ ARZ as Class AA, #26 Overall Prospect) - $495K - 12-8 W-L 3.97 ERA 197 IP 134 SO
    4. AJ Griffin – Farm System - $493K – 14-10 W-L 3.83 ERA 200 IP 171 SO
    5. Dan Straily – Farm System - $493K – 10-8 W-L 3.96 ERA 152.1 IP 124 SO


    Tampa Bay Rays


    1. David Price – Farm System – $10.1m – 10-8 W-L 3.33 ERA 186.2 IP 151 SO
    2. Matt Moore – Farm System – $1M – 17-4 W-L 3.29 ERA 150.1 IP 143 SO
    3. Alex Cobb – Farm System – $502K – 11-3 W-L 2.76 143.1 IP 134 SO
    4. Jeremy Hellickson – Farm System – $503K – 12-10 W-L 5.17 ERA 174 IP 135 SO
    5. Chris Archer – Farm System - $500K – 9-7 W-L 3.22 ERA 128.2 IP 101 SO


    Atlanta Braves


    1. Kris Medlen – Farm System - $505K – 13-9 W-L 3.21 ERA 204.2 IP 181 SO
    2. Mike Minor – Farm System - $2.6M – 15-12 W-L 3.11 ERA 197 IP 157 SO
    3. Julio Teheran – Farm System - $490K – 14-8 W-L 3.20 ERA 185.2 IP 170 SO
    4. Paul Maholm – Trade - $6.5M – 10-11 W-L 4.41 ERA 153 IP 105 SO
    5. Tim Hudson – Trade - $9M – 8-7 W-L 3.97 ERA 131.1 IP 95 SO


    Los Angeles Dodgers


    1. Clayton Kershaw – Farm System - $11M – 16-9 W-L 1.83 ERA 236 IP 232 SO
    2. Zack Greinke – FA - $19M – 15-4 W-L 2.63 ERA 177.2 IP 148 SO
    3. Hyun-jin Ryu FA - $6M – 14-8 W-L 3.00 ERA 192 IP 154 SO
    4. Ricky Nolasco – Trade - $11.5M – 13-11 W-L 3.70 ERA 199.1 IP 165 SO
    5. Chris Capuano – FA - $6M – 4-7 W-L 4.26 ERA 105.2 IP 81 SO


    Pittsburgh Pirates


    1. Francisco Liriano – FA - $1M – 16-8 W-L 3.02 ERA 161 IP 163 SO
    2. AJ Burnett – FA - $16.5M – 10-11 W-L 3.30 ERA 191 IP 209 SO
    3. Gerrit Cole – Farm System - $490K 10-7 W-L 3.22 ERA 117.1 IP 100 SO
    4. Jeff Locke – Farm System (Trade w/ Braves when in Class A) - $498K – 10-7 W-L 3.52 ERA 166.1 IP 125 SO
    5. Charlie Morton – Trade - $2M – 7-4 W-L 3.26 ERA 116 IP 85 SO


    St. Louis Cardinals


    1. Adam Wainwright – Farm System (trade w/ Braves as Class AA, #18 Overall Prospect) - $12M - 19-9 W-L 2.94 ERA 241.2 IP 219 SO
    2. Shelby Miller – Farm System - $490K 15-9 W-L 3.06 ERA 173.1 IP 169 SO
    3. Michael Wacha – Farm System - $490K 4-1 W-L 2.78 ERA 64.2 IP 65 SO
    4. Joe Kelly – Farm System $493K – 10-5 W-L 2.69 ERA 124 IP 79 SO
    5. Lance Lynn – Farm System - $513K – 15-10 W-L 3.97 ERA 201.2 IP 198 SO


    So if you were tallying, you would get this breakdown of the rotations by team:


    All but two had their ace come through their farm system. Bartolo Colon and Francisco Liarino have proved to be one-year wonders. And at $3M and $1M respectively, they were steals, but hardly predictable contributors.

    Apart from those two free agent finds, six free agents combined for a 61-52 W-L record, while having a combined price tag of $77.25M. Add Liriano and Colon back to the mix and it's 95-66.

    Here's a look over the past 4 years of FA starting pitcher to back up the post-season numbers from this year.

    One could run a little optimization application to figure out the optimal price to pay for Free Agent Pitching. (I'll run this later)

    Lesson: Don't overpay for Free Agents. Only in 2011 did the highest paid free agent starting pitcher, Cliff Lee, have the most wins.

    So what's the best method for teams, including the Twins, in 2014 (and beyond) to develop a pitching staff?
    • Farm System
    • Cheap FA flyers
    • Continue to add more power arms via 2014 MLB Draft
    • Trades that yield prospects


    Maybe, just maybe, Terry Ryan doesn't sound like such a stooge anymore.
    This article was originally published in blog: Pitching and Playoffs: Through the Farm System, Free Agency, or Trades? started by twinsfan34
    Comments 49 Comments
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      So basically they are unlikely to lose a draft pick, right? You can sign most free agents and not lose a pick.

      Also, the point was....should they fix the coaching and development processes, and again, I don't see how signing good free agents effects that.....
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      Draft pick compensation was a bigger part of it prior to the CBA. Why do you think Tampa Bay and Oakland do not sign FA pitchers? For that matter, does it make sense to you why they look to deal their best players when they are approaching free agency? I don't mean this to be a precursor to my answer, I am wondering why you think they manage their roster in this way.

      Great observation. One would think this would open up teams from being more aggressive in that 'middle tier' free agency area (under the compensatory loss of pick price range).

      This is a great Question:

      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      For that matter, does it make sense to you why they look to deal their best players when they are approaching free agency?
      And under the new CBA, will they still continue to do it?

      It appears the Devil Rays are looking to deal David Price or at least highly entertaining the idea.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      TB doesn't sign FAs because they have no money to do so......do you really think they would never sign any FAs if they had $50-100MM more in revenue? They also don't sign FA pitchers because they are actually good at drafting and developing pitchers, so they don't need to sign FA pitchers.

      Oakland, actually, did sign an expensive Cuban recently. The also do not sign expensive pitchers because they are are good at developing them, and they have a ballpark that allows them to sign less expensive pitchers and still be successful with them. Also, they have no revenue. Again, if they had another $100MM in revenue, you don't think they'd ever sign a FA?

      I think many of you have cause and effect and root cause really wrong.

      I only have two years or revenue numbers and I am not going to take time to look beyond 2011 & 2012. Had Tampa bay had an additional $100M in revenue they would have ranked 3rd in 2011 and 5th in 2012. At any rate, being affordable is a relative term. Technically, any team could afford to sign any player depending on your definition of afford.

      The Ray’s and the A’s don’t sign them because their production/dollar of salary is poor. Elite free agents have a very poor production/salary ratio. If you are the NYY, LAD, or Boston, you can afford between 8-9M/player on the 25 man roster. The next tier (PHI,CHC,SF) you can afford somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5M. The Twins can afford roughly $4M and the Ray’s $3M per player. If you are the Twins and you sign two FAs for $40M/yr and you already have Mauer, assuming a $110M budget, you have 2.14M/player for the remaining 22 roster spots. The economics just don’t work even under the best case scenario that the player produces for the length of the contract.

      When I said the Twins should focus on getting as good as the A’s and Ray’s at frafting and developing talent, you asked why developing talent and signing FAs could or should not co-exist. Now you say Oakland and Tampa Bay does not need to sign free agents because they are good at drafting and developing. I am confused. Additionally, one 4 year 36M player does not make for a practice. A Cespedes type signing is a very rare occurrence and a 4/36 for an international player where the contract will encompass the players prime is a very different thing than signing an injury prone Ellsbury to 5-6/110-130M. VERY different. How many examples can you come up with of teams in the bottom half of the league in terms of revenue signing players to the type of deal Ellsbury will receive? I can’t come up with one in the last few years. They all went to top 10 revenue teams.

      2nd tier FAs can be acquired on 2-4 years deals and those can make sense for the Twins anytime, especially right now.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Cespedes is still more than any FA contract the Twins have signed, EVER.

      I'm not sure what you are confused on. Nothing about any of this explains how signing free agents prevents you from being good at developing people.

      Agreed, having Mauer makes it harder to stay under $110MM and sign other big FAs, that is an issue.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      I only have two years or revenue numbers and I am not going to take time to look beyond 2011 & 2012. Had Tampa bay had an additional $100M in revenue they would have ranked 3rd in 2011 and 5th in 2012. At any rate, being affordable is a relative term. Technically, any team could afford to sign any player depending on your definition of afford.

      The Ray’s and the A’s don’t sign them because their production/dollar of salary is poor. Elite free agents have a very poor production/salary ratio. If you are the NYY, LAD, or Boston, you can afford between 8-9M/player on the 25 man roster. The next tier (PHI,CHC,SF) you can afford somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5M. The Twins can afford roughly $4M and the Ray’s $3M per player. If you are the Twins and you sign two FAs for $40M/yr and you already have Mauer, assuming a $110M budget, you have 2.14M/player for the remaining 22 roster spots. The economics just don’t work even under the best case scenario that the player produces for the length of the contract.

      When I said the Twins should focus on getting as good as the A’s and Ray’s at frafting and developing talent, you asked why developing talent and signing FAs could or should not co-exist. Now you say Oakland and Tampa Bay does not need to sign free agents because they are good at drafting and developing. I am confused. Additionally, one 4 year 36M player does not make for a practice. A Cespedes type signing is a very rare occurrence and a 4/36 for an international player where the contract will encompass the players prime is a very different thing than signing an injury prone Ellsbury to 5-6/110-130M. VERY different. How many examples can you come up with of teams in the bottom half of the league in terms of revenue signing players to the type of deal Ellsbury will receive? I can’t come up with one in the last few years. They all went to top 10 revenue teams.

      2nd tier FAs can be acquired on 2-4 years deals and those can make sense for the Twins anytime, especially right now.
      Is there an answer to the question somewhere in there? Why would signing free agents prevent drafting and developing your own?
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Is there an answer to the question somewhere in there? Why would signing free agents prevent drafting and developing your own?
      The prevailing argument on this site (from those that argue against free agents) and from "the man" himself is that free agents are "short cuts" and we don't need them. We accept our suffering and the suffering of the fans as necessary. Signing free agents would be counter to and might actually mitigate said suffering.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post
      Great observation. One would think this would open up teams from being more aggressive in that 'middle tier' free agency area (under the compensatory loss of pick price range).

      This is a great Question:



      And under the new CBA, will they still continue to do it?

      It appears the Devil Rays are looking to deal David Price or at least highly entertaining the idea.
      Just like they dealt Shields, I think they'll deal them as long as they can get more for value for them than they would get from a qualifying offer. For Shields, they got a near major league ready player with all six years of team control, much better than a supplemental pick and the risk involved in developing the player.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      "Fixing the draft problem"? Replace those responsible--presumably from teams that excel in that skill.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Is there an answer to the question somewhere in there? Why would signing free agents prevent drafting and developing your own?

      If that is what you get out of this post, any further discussion is pointless.

      Let's be reasonable. I don't see anyone suggesting the Twins should not sign free agents. The general theme is not sign 5+ year guys. I have stated on a few occasions they should be very agressive on the best quality FAs that can be signed to 2-3 year deals and even 4 years of the situation is right. I asked before and I will ask again, give me examples of teams in the bottom half in terms of revenue that have signed top free agents that were not resigns. Let's make this reasonable given there have been $150M-250M contracts in the past few years. Lets say anything over $60M.
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