When you compare what the Rangers paid for Adrian Beltre who was three years older when inking his deal then this really looks like a steal. The last days of negotiations were apparently spent haggling over a no trade clause. Has anyone heard what the resolution to that was?
One thing I think this really shows is how good a deal the Chavez extension was. The A’s signed a guy very comparable to Zimmerman to 6 years at $66 million. It looks bad in retrospect, but it was a bargain at the time and absolutely the right move.
I’m going to guess that most people will see the Zimmerman deal as a win for the Nationals, despite the fact that Chavez’s career path is a realistic possibility.
My recollection of Glaus’s defensive reputation is certainly different from yours, but regardless I’d think a better comparables list would be strictly players whose performance mirrored Zimmerman’s, instead of using reputation.
You can’t really compare contracts earned as free agents to contract extensions given to player’s still under contract. Any non-FA is going to have to settle for less than the FA rate when signing an extension due to decreased leverage.
That would be ideal, but that limits you to four comps, possibly even three, including Ventura. Since there are only 30 3B’s in the majors playing at once, and they won’t all be performing similarly, you have to go back in time, and all of the defensive stats for those years were compiled later. Reputation is the only thing to go on to get a list of guys big enough to be valuable.
Fair enough, but you used market prices in this paragraph:
“If we use the standard $5M per win in 2012/5% annual inflation assumptions, the Nationals would essentially need Zimmerman to produce +16 WAR from 2014-2019 in order to justify this contract. The median production of the six comps from age 29-34? +16 WAR.”
So if the Nats paid market price for wins, didn’t they overpay?
I just want to say that I saw the new contract posted as news on Google News, read some news report about it, and thought to myself, “Man, I wonder what some comps are. I’ll bet FanGraphs has some.” I clicked my bookmark and here it was, all ready. THANKS SO MUCH! You guys are the go-to team for baseball analysis: I appreciate your working on a Sunday. (I wish y’all worked everyday, but I suppose you have to take time off sometime!) Great piece and thanks for the info.
so has offense in baseball though. you’re spanning more than 1 offensive era in generating these comps, no?
Comment by cecilcoop — February 26, 2012 @ 5:33 pm
I’m a little skeptical as if this is a “great” deal for the Nationals..
A lot of Zimmerman’s value is tied up in defense, and his offense is pretty good, but not spectacular. He certainly isn’t a cornerstone offensive player. He’s been injured a couple of times, and that worries me for a player who’s heavily valued in defense. What if his legs go? Then he becomes merely a good 3B.
People will point to him being 11th in WAR over the past six seasons, but, has he been the 11th best player over the past six seasons? Conversely, do you think he’ll be the 11th best player going forward?
Considering his excellent consistency, offensive & defensive skill, injury history, and his great reputation, I would put fair contract value at about 6 years/$80-85 million. However, I doubt that gets the deal done. I think the author put it best, when he said that it isn’t a great deal, but one that keeps the current face of the franchise locked up for a less-than-terrible price.
THIS IS A GOOD CONTRACT…….IF PUJOLS WAS SUCH A TEAM PLAYER HE WOULD HAVE GIVEN THE CARDS A DISCOUNT AND GOTTEN IT DONE INSTEAD OF SELLING HIS SOUL AND MOVING TO HOLLYWOOD…ZIMMERMAN HAS NEVER BEEN THAT KIND OF PLAYER SO IT IS NICE TO SEE HE IS STAYING AT HOME…PUJOLS IS GOING TO LOOOOOVE LIVING IN LOS ANGELES WHERE PEOPLE ONLY CARE ABOUT YOU FOR YOUR MONEY….WELLL GOOD LUCK WITH THAT BIG AL!!!
Shouldn’t Anthony Rendon factor into this decision as well? I would assume the Nats will probably play him at 2B going forward (which may work out fine), but considering Zimmerman had injury problems last year and was still under contract for two seasons maybe this extension is a little more riskier than you think.
I think part of the issues some people have with Zimmerman would be mitigated if they realized how much of a park effect he had to deal with. While 2011 was kind of a waste, in 2010 he might have hit 35 HRs if his home field was a more neutral park (9 Home vs. 16 Away).
I don’t think you want to nitpick over positional projections that might still be at least 2 years into the future (when it comes to prospects, Rendon in particular)… He’s still too far from being in the MLB lineup picture, even though he could be a tremendous player sooner rather than later.
That’s a crock of shit. Pujols was an employee. His contract was up and he went to the best place for him and his family. If the Cardinals wanted to keep him they could have paid fair market for him. And lumping an entire city together by a single stereotype is ignorant. Because I know that St. Louis has that wholesome mid-west stereotype going for it, but in actuality it sports one of the highest crime rates in America. So maybe he just wanted to get away from that filthy meth den of a town.
Nice deal for the Nationals. Zimmerman was turning into an offensive star in 2009 (.377 wOBA) and 2010 (.389 wOBA) before succumbing to major injury in 2011. Injuries are going to be part of the equation for almost every infielder, excluding first basemen, so the most we can ask for is that the players play great when healthy, and Zimmerman has certainly done that. Good power (career .191 ISO), good contact (82% career) – Good deal for both sides, really.
Dave… there is no “standard 5mil/WAR” …It is a number that is non-data based that you keep trotting out enough that everyone for some reason thinks it’s now a valid #. I though SABR communities were beyond memes.
Why not use a data driven, #’s based approach ?(this is a SABR site right)
Why not simply take last years $/WAR and assume 5% inflation? Why do you continue to insist on 11% inflation this year and 5% inflation in all future years?
This idea that 5mil is somehow a “standard” is absurd, and I would think a SABR oriented author would be better than that.
Dave, leverage comes form an outside (alternative) option, and the non-FA has the outside option of waiting until they become a FA and then getting a contract with any other team. In this case it is pretty clean too because they didn’t renegotiate the first two years when there is no FA alternative.
The only reason that the team has more leverage here is that they can offer a little less because they accept the risk that the player will lose lots of value before they become a FA, but that is just an insurance premium, not leverage.
Comment by Barkey Walker — February 26, 2012 @ 8:25 pm
I’m not suggesting that the Nationals shouldn’t have extended Zimmerman because of Rendon, but I do think that it should be noted as part of their decision process. I’d assume the Nats front office at least talked about a switch for Rendon from 3B to 2B.
Well it depends on how accurate you think WAR is. That said, 11th best sees exactly right. I think it’s lack of exposure, and lack of mass media recognition for the value of two-way players and the concept of replacement value.
For what it’s worth, the third baseman on the “most similar” list for Ryan Zimmerman at Baseball-Reference.com: are Scott Rolen, Eric Chavez, David Wright, and Aramis Ramirez. Wright is too young to compare, but Aramis Ramirez is entering his age 34 season. So far, Ramirez has average a little over 3 WAR per season since 2007. One think I notice with a lot of these players is that most of them have seasons with large reductions in PAs due to injury as they get older. I’m not sure if 3d basemen show more susceptibility to injury than other positions. (Shoulder injuries seem to be a vulnerability for the position.) But I’m not sure that calculating the comparables’ WAR on a “per 600 PA” basis is showing us the declining PAs associated with injuries.
No, it doesn’t. I debate how useful WAR in the first place, but it actually means that he was the 11th “most valuable”.
For example, in 2010 Zimmerman had the sixth highest WAR – However, there were 10 or so players who contributed more to their team, but because the standard of a replacement player is higher in the OF and 1B, their WARs are lowered, than if they produced the same offensive and fielding ratings at 3B.
That’s strange that Aramis Ramirez would be Zimmerman’s comp. I always thought of Aramis as a no-gloves guys.
One other thing, Zimmerman is a UVA product and from the Tidewater area, making him something of a local guy. Obviously it doesn’t factor into his baseball value, but maybe gave the Nats an extra incentive to lock him up.
Comment by jeff_bonds — February 26, 2012 @ 10:59 pm
I think the A’s signed Chavez because they strongly suspected the other big hitting infielder on the roster (Miguel Tejada) might have been on the juice.
I too find this whole switch Rendon to 3rd to be more than a little dubious. On the other hand, perhaps young Zimmerman can move himself over to first when the time comes. Now, now, now don’t start with all that ‘value as a third baseman’ stuff. This deal is also about franchise faces that don’t get written about as punks. This is a credibility move and he can play first and be credible too.
Comment by Fiery Furnaces — February 26, 2012 @ 11:22 pm
swtich Rendon to 2nd that is…
Comment by Fiery Furnaces — February 26, 2012 @ 11:23 pm
Just sayin’ mr stat driven – where would you place the value that was missing from your post? 4.5? Can’t say 4 cause that was years ago.
We have this argument every time.
Comment by Fiery Furnaces — February 26, 2012 @ 11:26 pm
I don’t think B-Ref’s similarity scores take into account defense, other than a position adjustment. In general, Aramis Ramirez’s advanced metrics rating aren’t good. In terms of reputation, I have been under the impression that he was viewed as a bad fielder early in his career who worked his way into an average to above-average defender.
A decent deal for the best team in Sports! Thankfully Zimmermann is a super stand up guy, so this contract is easy to say yes too. YES!!
Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — February 27, 2012 @ 12:03 am
Pujols also provided the Cards with ~185M (IIRC) of surplus value during his previous contracts.
If I’m an employee and I’m the main reason my company is thriving and won “Company of the year” twice, and they did so primarily because of the over-value I provide, I’m not looking to necessarily give them ANY type of “discount” to remain with them. If anything, I feel they “owe me” some serious compensation in my next deal … especially when there are other companies that will pay me quite a bit more than their best offer.
We expect athletes to make sacrificial decisions that we would never consider, let alone make.
My concern was that the public outcry to “sign Pujols at any cost” (especially after winning the WS) would lead to StL signing him to a figure that he could never live up to, and they’d be tied to it, justifying it (somewhat) by all the surplus value he provided in the “first half” of his career. AP5 got his money and StL stayed out of a very large contract.
Win for both parties.
Comment by CircleChange11 — February 27, 2012 @ 12:05 am
Hell no, he’s not the 11th best player in baseball over the past six seasons. That fact only exists here….on Fangraphs. bWAR has him as the 39th best POSITION PLAYER in baseball over that same time span, so I’m sure the Nationals looked at that, too. Kind of puts an entirely different perspective on this contract and Ryan Zimmerman’s abilities.
That being said, I think the Nats overpaid but not by too terribly much. They’re giving their fans lots of reasons to come to the ballpark for the next several years. Whatever WAR equation you use, I think Zimmerman will produce +16 WAR if healthy and maybe a little less if he has to battle injuries.
I like the deal. There isn’t just the “average WAR/$” argument. There’s also the “what benefit do the Nats get” question. They surely get more value than just his production from signing “their guy”. RZ is seen as the guy who started the Nats becoming relevant. He’s pretty awesome and if they win a WS or even become a consistent playoff contender over the next few years, even if his production doesn’t quite match the WAR/$, I’m sure the signing will be appreciated.
Basically I feel that the “utility” the team and fans get from keeping him makes it so that he’ll have to be a major bust for this to not seem like a good sign 20 years from now.
Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 27, 2012 @ 12:22 am
What’s problematic for me is ….
1. He’s coming off a season where he missed a lot of games due to injury.
2. He was already signed for 2012 and 2013.
3. Yet they signed him to a “market deal” 6 year extension. So, RZ got  more money and  more years at a point in time where his leverage was reduced.
WAS didn’t get ANY discount for the extension or for the injury 2011?
If WAS was able and willing to do an extension, following 2011 would have been the “perfect” time to get it at a reduced cost.
They could have pointed to the team assuming some risk because of the injury while providing him security for the next 6 years (8 if we include the already existing contract years).
Had WAS waited until after 2012 and got a better gauge on how RZ would come back from an injury season, he’d likely STILL accept a 6/100 contract before entering his 2013 FA year. I say this because he’s  he’s likely not going to get that much of a better deal than that and  if he is injured again in 2012 or doesn’t bounce back as strong, he figures to make a lot less.
The team’s extension essentially treated him as if he came off just another great, consistent year in his career. It’s also his second “injury season”.
Perhaps they’re paying for positional scarcity which I somewhat understand.
Comment by CircleChange11 — February 27, 2012 @ 12:22 am
RZ is seen as the guy who started the Nats becoming relevant.
1. Are the Nats really relevant?
2. The year they had the nation’s attention, it had nothing to do with RZ.
If the Nats reach relevance, it’s going to be all about the Dynamic Duo (Strasburg and Harper), and RZ will continue to be over-looked and or under-valued.
I am not slighting RZ at all, and am actually glad he “got his”. But for the Nats to give some sort of “franchise tag” reward, the Nats really should have experienced more success.
This deal/timing only makes sense if the Nats feel RZ would have gotten a lot more when he hit FA and would not resign with WAS. I’m skeptical that would happen.
It could be that WAS is looking to solidify its name with the rest of the players in the league as a team that’s “serious about it” with Werth, Zim, and the Dynamic Duo.
Are there FA after the 2012 season that make sense for WAS?
Comment by CircleChange11 — February 27, 2012 @ 12:28 am
Another thing about those b-ref comps: they are not time-adjusted at all. We’re comparing Aramis Ramirez in the heart of the steroid era(1998-2004) to Zimmerman’s 2005 to present date, a tougher era to put up good offensive numbers. Despite that, Ramirez only posted a 101 OPS+ in the steroid era, while Zimmerman is at 120 for his career.
Maybe they were looking at the Pujols/Fielder contracts and thinking that 6/100 was a bargain and didn’t want to get into a bidding war with other teams, specifically 2 big market ALE teams that will have 3B concerns at the end of 2013.
Comment by CircleChange11 — February 27, 2012 @ 12:30 am
That’s the part of this deal I like the most, that it is telling both fans and future potential free agents that they are serious about winning. I think the Jayson Werth deal had a similar rationale behind it;unfortunately, well, you know.
I’d like to see an assessment of how no-trade clauses work out for organizations. I suspect they’re not much significant overall. But I’d be interested in what an actual study of such wound up showing.
Majority of the regular readers of this site are aware that the 5mil/WAR that Dave uses is not the standard used in valuing contracts.
Its just the method he prefers, and any reader is free to use whatever ratio he/she wants for their own analysis. We do not even need a new approach for this kind of analysis because readers can decide for themselves what they want to use.
Comment by MalinsDad — February 27, 2012 @ 1:59 am
Look at last year’s # and apply the same inflation rate folk assume exists over the rest of the contract?
Do a regression?
Or you could also apply a 5% inflation scale on a three year average (such that year -2 would be the average, last year would be average +5%, and this year would be +5% of that).
How do we deal with evaluating player skill? Do we just look at last year’s # and round it to up or down to the next whole # for convenience?
I would do one of the following:
1) Take last years value and apply 5% inflation (~4.75)
2) Use a 3 year average (2009-2011) – I think that is 4.33. From there center that on the time period (meaning that would be the 2010 value), 2009 would be -5%, 2011 would be +5% , 2012 would be 5% on top of the 2011 figure… that would come out to 4.77mil
3) Use somthing like a 5-3-1 weighting to get a 2011 $/WAR figure and apply a 5% inflation to that…. that would also come out to ~4.75. (though I think this is more coincidental as that sort or weighted average is not really appropriate as that almost assume no real inflation over that 3 year period)
5mil is a completely arbitrary #… other than it being round, I’ve seen no explanation on why it is used. The fact that it is being labeled as a standard assumption somehow makes it sounds like it is either a real # or based on some actual projection analysis.
I think he would have asked for close to Tulo numbers if he was coming off a three year run instead of an injured, weak season. Three 5+ bWAR or 7+ fWAR seasons in a row would have built a much better resume going into this season, and the club would have perhaps won a few more games and actually be closer to the wildcard in their own estimation. Waiting a year risks that if he has a great year in 3 out of 4 seasons (which is what you want) he’s going to deserve a lot more next year. This was the time to get the deal, next year the dynamic would either be on his side, or his numbers would be such that they probably wouldn’t take the chance on an extension. This deal actually builds in some injury protection since he doesn’t have to give them that 20 million a year performance level for it to work financially, and he’s deferring some of it.
The Nationals really are Ryan Zimmerman’s hometown team. He lives in Virginia and played college ball at UVA.
Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — February 27, 2012 @ 10:43 am
Hell yes there are FA after 2012 that make sense for WAS. Michael Bourn heads the center field class, and is a Boras client.
Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — February 27, 2012 @ 10:49 am
Random irrelevant factoid: Ryan Zimmerman has 8 career walk-off home runs. The all-time record is 12, held by a group of men with names like Foxx, Mantle, and Ruth. The active leaders are Jim Thome (12 at age 41), David Ortiz (9 at age 36), and Ryan Zimmerman (8 at age 27). At the rate he’s going, the Walkoff Kid could have the record sewn up at age 30.
Note: this somewhat shaky research comes from Google.
Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — February 27, 2012 @ 10:54 am
When you look at the three that are actually comps (that is really did play well on the field)… all of a sudden it is a great deal. It’s as if being in good shape helps you age. What a surprise.
Comment by Barkey Walker — February 27, 2012 @ 10:58 am
The people of Anaheim will be shocked to learn they live in Hollywood.
It might make a good Twilight Zone episode.
I believe that there are 12 players with 12 walk off home runs. I’d be somewhat surprised to see Thome increase that number in Philadelphia because you have to be down by a few, at home, and not get pinch run for until the 9th to get one. Now, if the move him to pinch hitter sooner rather than latter, then yes, he could easily have another. Thome would be a great guy to have that record.
That said, it would be awesome to see Zimmerman take on that title and surpass the greats on that list.
Comment by Barkey Walker — February 27, 2012 @ 11:17 am
Yes, Fiery and Hank, where we have no accuracy at all we must have 2-decimal-point precision.
Clearly not written by a Nats fan. Nationals fans are thrilled about Strasburg and Harper, but we love Zim. He is often compared to Cal Ripken. No, he is not to that level, and has had obviously more injuries than the Iron-man, but he is beloved and there is no other player we want as the Face of the Franchise. Zimmerman is not unappreciated in DC.
It would be helpful to include a hyperlink to relevant previous articles when referring to “the standard $5 million per win…5% inflation” in the article. Just so those of us who need the refresher can find it more easily.
I’m going to guess that most people will see the Zimmerman deal as a win for the Nationals, despite the fact that Chavez’s career path is a realistic possibility.”
It’s certainly a possibility, but how realistic? It’s a possibility with just about any ballplayer, there’s inherent risk involved with long-term contracts to any major athlete. It appears that the Nationals did a good job weighing those risks. As the author notes, Chavez basically has not done anything since turning 30 five years ago. The path of his career is not all that common. Zimmerman turning into Chavez is not a realistic possibility, it’s a remote possibility, and true of just about any MLB player. These things being said, the Nationals really did not have to do this with a player 2 years away from free agency.
Circle, I more meant that it was a guy it felt like Nats fans believed in. He is considered the best NL third basemen. The Nats are relevant. they were 80-82 last year, they were no longer a guarantee series win. Without a strong foundation, you can’t build. Zimmerman represents that foundation. I realize that they have been a bad team most of his career, if not all of it (depends on your definition).
My point is that if they win, people will look back and appreciate him more. There is a qualitative value there that must be thought about too. I know this is fangraphs and “lol @ qualitative” but it’s true. There has to be excess utility that the fans, ownership, and other players get from him being a Nat for life.
Comment by Antonio Bananas — February 27, 2012 @ 5:15 pm