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Thread: Article: The rising cost of relief pitching

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    Owner All-Star Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    Article: The rising cost of relief pitching


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    It's utterly absurd, the 8 million per win(or 9). You're telling me in true dollars Joe Mauer is a 40-45 million dollar player? Or on the opposite end that Alexi Casilla would fetch 8 million a year on the open market. That 8-9 million dollar figure has been looked at with pretty extreme skepticism.

    Not to mention your narrative just doesn't fit. Why would the Diamondbacks decline a reasonable ~4 million option on Matt Lindstrom when @ the 9 million a year figure he'd actually be worth closer to 6. Then lets examine the facts from last year. Taking a nice three year WAR average the vast majority of RP averaged nearer to the commonly quoted 5 million a year then that 9 million figure. Pretty much everyone except Valverde(exercised option) and Papelbon(early FA signing). After that there was value to be had. It's pretty clear the League contract is a significant overpay.

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    I think one of the bigger flaws in determining the cost of the win from a relief pitcher standpoint is the super volatile nature of all but the best relievers.

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    Owner All-Star Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    It's utterly absurd, the 8 million per win(or 9). You're telling me in true dollars...
    I'm not saying that, the president of a major league baseball team who is statistically inclined is saying that. As he mentioned in his interview, his office has run all the studies.



    Not to mention your narrative just doesn't fit. Why would the Diamondbacks...
    Of course, as I mentioned, this does not mean that all teams will abide by that pay scale. In the case of the Dodgers, they must have projected that League would fare well in his next three years and compared it to the thin crop of consistent relievers and decided to pay him on that scale. If $9 million, like Sharpiro said, is the actually cost for a win and League performs on par with his prior performances, he will be "worth" that in the end.

    The D'Backs, on the other hand, may have had other plans to spend that kind of money or similar not use the WAR value in that kind of capacity when valuating talent. The Twins, Rays, etc, will certainly not work on that level but it doesn't mean the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Rangers are not working with those dollars.

    Last, one of the reasons that the past contracts (particularly the long-term ones) likely do not match that $8-9M range is because of what Sharpiro said. Players performances tend to decline over the course of a contract and it is likely that teams would adjust their AAV to match that decline.

    In the end, while League's contract may wind up being on the higher end of the spectrum this year, I believe you are going to see larger contracts and dollars going towards relievers than previously anticipated.

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    Owner All-Star Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    I think one of the bigger flaws in determining the cost of the win from a relief pitcher standpoint is the super volatile nature of all but the best relievers.
    It's one of the reasons I commend the Twins front office for not getting involved in signing free agent relief pitchers to long-term deals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
    I think one of the bigger flaws in determining the cost of the win from a relief pitcher standpoint is the super volatile nature of all but the best relievers.
    It's one of the reasons I commend the Twins front office for not getting involved in signing free agent relief pitchers to long-term deals.
    Yup, totally agree.
    With finite resources, best not to gamble them on long term deals for relief pitchers.

  7. #7
    when i read this article, all i could think about was how the twins could exploit this annually by flipping relievers when they're out of contention. to me, the relief market is the key to a small market (or medium market) team building assets, whether it be by trading for prospects or acquiring picks via free agency.

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    Article: The rising cost of relief pitching


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    Twins Moderator All-Star diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
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    Call me old school, but overpaying for relievers seems foolish and stupid. I'm all in favor of getting some hard throwing relievers for late innings, but those can be added cheaply via draft and free agent scrap heap signings.

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    So this must make the Twins genius's for picking an army of RP'ers?

    I'm not sure I'm buying the whole article though. The data point is League and he was signed by a team that has shown it's basically willing to light money on fire if it feels like it. I also don't really understand this 8-9M/win number that they are throwing out there. Fangraphs has been using 4-5M/win which seems much more reasonable. Greinke is a 5 WAR pitcher and he'll probably get 20M/year. 8-9M/win suggests that Greinke should get paid 40-45M/yr this offseason.

  11. #11
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    Fangraphs has been using 4-5M/win which seems much more reasonable. Greinke is a 5 WAR pitcher and he'll probably get 20M/year. 8-9M/win suggests that Greinke should get paid 40-45M/yr this offseason.
    Again, that's the Indians assessment of the market so it's possible that they are viewing it incorrectly. But the fact is MLB revenue streams have been increasing (the MLBAM payouts, the broadcast rights, etc) and therefore each incremental win for a team is likely now worth more than when Fangraphs first created the "value" statistic. Teams now have more money to use to purchase this win. This then drives the free agent market higher each off-season. (By the way, a great read on this subject is "Diamond Dollars" by Vince Generro).

    I believe the top of the class free agents will likely get close to the $9M per win per year (or a variation of that). Also, as I mentioned above and as Sharpiro was getting at, is that the 8-9M/win is not applicable to the long-term deal as they take in account a player's declining skills as well. So, it's possible that if you were to sign Greinke to a one-year only deal, he's value would likely be $40-45 million, but over the course of 6, 7, 8 years, the team is projecting diminishing returns and adjusts the AAV accordingly.

    Finally, as I mentioned, not all teams abide by that rules and that's where the notion of market inefficiencies exist. Players who are difficult to project because of injuries, lack of playing time, etc, present an opportunity for team like the Twins to acquire them at a below market rate -- like was the case of Josh Willingham whose age, injury history and defensive liability gave the Twins significant performance at a below market rate.

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