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  1. Come on. His bat at C for $21M is a bargain. You just can’t convince me otherwise.

    Comment by Steve — April 10, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  2. It is a bargain compared to what he would get on the free agent market. Compared to what similar players got for the same years of their careers, not so much.

    Comment by Mike Axisa — April 10, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

  3. It appears that we have started a strong baseball salary inflationary cycle so any statements about discounts or market value are non-operative.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — April 10, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

  4. Given inflation / the rise of salaries in baseball, they’re saving a bit of money compared to those previous deals.

    I feel like Santana has a lot more going for him than the others did when they signed their extensions – better platform season, more playing time, more HRs.

    Napoli only got his $9.4M this past season after put up a .420 wOBA or whatever ridiculous number he put up. If Napoli was a full time player for the entirety of his playing time, he would have gotten paid a lot more.

    Comment by Jim Lahey — April 10, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

  5. Is this good news or bad news for Alex Avila?

    Comment by J6takish — April 10, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

  6. As a Tribe fan I get to watch Santana on a daily basis until 2017. He is an elite combination of patience and power. Not bad for a nearly washed up Casey Blake.

    Comment by aaronjw — April 10, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  7. It’s not so much a bargain as it is just kind of meh. Probably would have been better off waiting a year and buying out an extra year of free agency.

    Comment by Arun — April 10, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  8. I don’t know about that (Napoli). He cashed in at exactly the right time it seems. If he played everyday, maybe the Angels would have locked him up when they could have/should have.

    Comment by Arun — April 10, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

  9. The club option is what really holds the value here. To properly compare the values of the above catchers you need to include the club option plus the post-arb earnings.

    Comment by Troy — April 10, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  10. While it would have been nice to lock up more years of his free agency, I think the very first comment rings the truest. When talking about value, everyone gets tied up in relative comparisons. Let’s talk absolutes: You’re paying a 4+ win catcher $21 million dollars through his age 26-31 seasons.

    Comment by steven — April 10, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

  11. He posted a .349 wOBA, not a .382.

    Comment by Kevin — April 10, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

  12. But he is not a free agent. He is under team control and needs to play quite well to have received that amount through arbitration. Now, the team option certainly does add value to the Indians, so this is a solid deal. Just not some grand bargain.

    Comment by RationalSportsFan — April 10, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

  13. Or gets tied up writing about how a team may have paid about $3 million more over the course of a five year contract than the writer believes the team should have paid.

    Comment by larry — April 10, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

  14. McCann is a better overall player than Napoli – I think if the Indians were choosing, they’d rather he turn into McCann.

    Comment by TK — April 10, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

  15. If you are trying to determine whether the Indians are saving money through arbitration years, you have picked the wrong comparable players. Both Mauer and McCann signed multiyear contracts, meaning they already took discounts on their arbitration values in order to obtain guaranteed money. Montero and Napoli at least provide players who earned their arbitration values each year. The problem with Napoli is that as a super two player, he earned way above minimum in his 2+ year ($2M), and likely earned more each subsequent year as a result compared to what his salaries would have been if he had only been eligible for arbitration three times.

    Also, as other posters mention, there has to be some accounting for the team option. If Santana is able to put up similar numbers to 2011 over the length of this contract, he will be a valuable free agent. You would not be able to sign a catcher like that in his prime to a one-year contract, at almost any value. The team option gives the Indians that chance.

    Comment by BBWizard — April 10, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

  16. Let me re-state: relative value is important, but not to the nit-picky degree we are hashing it out at. Because Santana IS cost-controlled, an overpay of 10-20%, if that is your argument, is not a big deal, even to the small-market Indians. That’s maybe $3 million over the course of the contract. Not the same thing as overpaying Jayson Werth 10-20%. Again, look at what is added to the bottom line- a 4+ win player at catcher, in his prime, for $21 million dollars. And Santana’s happy, front office is happy, fans are happy, and money won’t be discussed again for 5 years (and then there’s an option). You’re going to tell me it’s not a sound deal because Antonetti could have eeked out an extra $750k a season?

    Comment by steven — April 10, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  17. Larry said exactly what I was thinking. It’s not so much about Santana as it is the bigger picture- the point of the contract was to lock up a cost-controlled stud. Quibbling over the value of the contract amounts to squabbling over pennies.

    Comment by steven — April 10, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  18. The salary listed for Santana on the table totals to 18.8 million, not 21 million.

    Comment by Billy — April 10, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

  19. i would have gone the arbitration route. guaranteeing that kind of deal length to a C when I had the option to use arbitration seems unnecessarily risky. C is a tough position and often leaves players open to more catastrophic injury (santana, posey, perez). why give guaranteed years/money to guys like that when you don’t have to?

    also, the indians didn’t get a great discount. santana didn’t seem to be squawking for a longterm deal. frankly, if he continues to produce…he’ll make his money in arbitration and cleveland should happily fork over the dough.

    idk

    Comment by cable fixer — April 10, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  20. There’s a $1M signing bonus. I’m guessing the rest is covered in the buy out for the $12M team option.

    Comment by kjn — April 10, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

  21. Abritators don’t look at WAR, fyi. Not only does Santana get no credit for positional value, he’s also probably not going to be a high batting average guy. Very undervalued by the arbitration process.

    Comment by Andrew — April 10, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

  22. There’s got to be some value in giving one of your best young players an objectively fair deal, with each side capturing some of the value surplus. Cooperative behavior pays off over a series of repeated transactions. Pre-prime players aren’t going to want to commit long-term if they think it usually means playing at a steep discount. The Indians will want to lock down their other young guys both now and in the future, and they probably don’t mind giving up a little on this deal if it enhances their reputation for fairness (making it easier for them to negotiate other long term deals like this one).

    Comment by Jack — April 10, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

  23. salaries may have changed too much to be able to rule on this either discount of not yet

    Comment by jim — April 10, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

  24. His first year numbers are very comparable to Prince Fielder’s first full year.

    Santana was one of only four major leaguers to have at least 25 homers, 35 doubles and 90 walks last season.

    The other three? Prince Fielder, Miggy Cabrera, and Joey Votto….what did those 3 guys average making over the 5 year period Santana just signed for? That is a better comparasion than a catcher like Mauer who was never a big power hitter (save one season) or Napoli who was a part-time player a lot of time and only broke out last year.

    Comment by Hermie13 — April 10, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

  25. True, but Brian McCann’s deal included a $1M bonus when he signed his 6 year deal in 2007. However, this article doesn’t include that $1M in his total. There is also a $500K buyout in McCann’s deal, which isn’t included in the $16.8M.

    so either McCann’s total should read $18.3M or Santana’s should only read $18.8M.

    Comment by Hermie13 — April 10, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

  26. Hermie, despite putting up nice numbers in your cherry-picked stats, he still had an OPS of about 150-200 points lower than those three guys. Just because they might have been the only 4 players to get past your arbitrary threshold, it doesn’t mean they’re similar hitters.

    Santana’s a good hitter, especially for a catcher. Your post is irrelevant though.

    Comment by vivalajeter — April 10, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

  27. I didn’t cherry pick. That stat line has been posted on every sports site in existence just about. I was simply re-posting it.

    Santana did have a lower OPS…then again, he also was in his first full year whereas Prince was in his 6, Votto his 4th? and Miggy was a vet as well. Was an accomplishment to be in a group with those 3 in your first year.

    Comment by Hermie13 — April 10, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

  28. Again, compare Prince Fielder’s first full ML season with Santana’s. HR/AB rate were nearly identical as were most other important numbers. Fielder was a lot younger, but the arbitration process doesn’t really look at age, rather productivity.

    Comment by Hermie13 — April 10, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

  29. I wonder how many more articles there will be on talented young players signing thru arbitration and not giving a hometown discount? From all the surprise from the writers, you would think that discounts were the rule and not the exception.

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense for a player to offer a huge discount, unless they are unwilling to go year to year for some reason. The likelihood of a career ending injury is slim, even at catcher. And a pre-arbitration player who put up huge numbers will benefit thru arbitration, even if they regress (and how many young players plan on that).

    Comment by Bob — April 10, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  30. So you’re re-posting cherry picked stats. I guess that makes it less frowned upon

    Comment by Alan — April 10, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

  31. And cherry picking one sentence of a post is so much better.

    Comment by Hermie13 — April 10, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

  32. Similar players pre the current spending binge

    Comment by Psst — April 11, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

  33. I don’t know how you can claim they didn’t get any sort of discount.

    If he’d hit actually gone to arbitration all three years, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say his salary for those seasons might have been $7M, $9M, and $11M, substantially more than he’s getting in those three seasons through this contract. That means they got him at a potential discount.

    I realize the other side of things is that catchers usually sign these discounted deals, and so you can compare they discount the Indians are getting to those gained by other teams, but the figures you cite don’t speak to the salary inflation that has happened since those contracts were signed, or that is likely to occur between now and the start of what would have been Santana’s arbitration eligibility.

    The figures you included are also thrown off by including the signing bonus and buyout, which doesn’t seem to have been done for other players (at least some of whom received similar contract features).

    This isn’t the Evan Longoria extension, but it’s a good deal for Cleveland, while providing Santana with financial security for life.

    Comment by Lukehart80 — April 11, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  34. i mean, this is a huge bargain for the indians. this article fails to account for the fact that santana is 26, not 21, 22, 23, as most arbitration eligible future studs are. he has arrived, and they just signed him for $21 mil over 5 years? joe mauer got $34 mil for 4 years when he was like 24, and $184 mil when he was 26! what would you rather have:

    Joe mauer (28), $184 million
    Carlos Santana (26), $21 million

    this is a no brainer, slam dunk deal. the indians got lucky it took santana this long to arrive, because they leverage his arbitration position into completely shafting him with this deal.

    Comment by hmk — April 11, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

  35. Kind of a general question: Does WAR somehow take into account how much time a player spends at different positions? If not, wouldn’t that throw things out of whack, especially for someone like Santana, who must have produced a significant chunk of his value as a 1B/DH, not catcher?

    I mean in the sense that you couldn’t call him a 3.5-WAR catcher last year, since that’s actually the total amount of WAR he earned playing those other positions, too.

    Comment by Fangraphs Rookie — April 11, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  36. WAR and other, similar stats do account for how much time players spend at various positions. You are right, it would be a major issue if they did not.

    Comment by Lukehart80 — April 11, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

  37. Thanks!

    Comment by Fangraphs Rookie — April 11, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  38. Yet another clumsy attempt to define contract value, an unfortunate staple.

    Take the comparison with Mauer, which is fairly direct. First, the Twins got a fairly club-friendly deal out of Mauer, which covered all of his arbitration years. The fact that the Twins got a nice deal doesn’t mean that other similar deals are “neutral,” they are also good deals of course.

    Then you add in seven years of salary inflation.

    Then you add in the fact that while the Indians are committing a year earlier, the Twins had to commit an additional $12 million in guaranteed money, the “post-arb” year of that deal, in order to get the same numbers the Indians got for the arb years.

    So the real answer here is that the Twins got a very nice deal for Mauer, and the Indians got perhaps a slightly nicer deal for Santana.

    Comment by Jay Levin — April 11, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

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