Breaking Up the Band

Neil Huntington’s attempt to look like a nice guy ended up with him looking like a bit of a jerk, as details on the contract extensions for Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez came to light. I’m not here to suggest that giving long-term deals to two middle infielders over 30 years of age is a wise move, but the offer to Sanchez at least could be seen as borderline insulting.

Wilson’s offer was for 2-years, $8 million with an option for a third year. Sanchez’s offer covered two years, $10 million while also voiding his $8 million, 2010 vesting option if he attains to 600 plate appearances this year, which looks like a real possibility. Both offers were quickly shot down by the players, and there are some reports these offers were of the “take it or leave it” variety, not starting points to negotiations. So what is each player really worth?

Jack Wilson has been downright groovy with the glove this season, with an UZR of 11 and an UZR/150 of 19. The season prior he was worth 17 runs per 150 games. Hitting-wise, he’s been Jack Wilson with his usual .300 wOBA over 272 plate appearances. This season so far he has been worth 1.8 wins above replacement, making him well worth his hay. Considering past history, he is probably more like a 2-win player going forward, worth $9 million on the non-chilled free agent market. His $8.4 mil option is hardly a bargain, but is about right. With blue light specials being made for players of Adam Everett‘s ilk being made over the winter, I can see the Buc’s desire to see if they can’t get a discount. It will be interesting to see what sort of a deal Wilson will get over the off-season.

Freddy Sanchez has already been worth nearly $12 million to the team just coming off of the break, double what he is getting paid now. Why on earth would he take a $3 million pay cut when all he has to do is stay in the lineup? Granted, Sanchez was terrible last year and it isn’t like he is without his foibles — he doesn’t run all that well, doesn’t walk and doesn’t hit for much power. He’s been slightly above average in the field, with a career UZR/150 of 5. So maybe he is somewhat of an empty .300 hitter, but over his past three healthy seasons, his WAR totals have been 3.2, 4.8, 3.8 and now 2.6 this season. The man is hardly a $5 mil a year player.

It seems rather doubtful a team would be willing to pick up Wilson’s option, and he is not going to be a Type A or B free agent this winter. Wilson is still due about $3 mil for the rest of the season, so if the Pirates can get a “C” grade prospect or maybe two in a trade, Huntington should suck it up and say “yes”. Sanchez on the other hand could help a team not only win this season but the following, so the Pirates should be getting something shiny in return. Probably not a top 25 caliber prospect, but a nifty prospect to add to Huntington’s collection.

Pirate fans, brace yourselves for a new and much less-inspiring double play combo very soon.




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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

21 Responses to “Breaking Up the Band”

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  1. fetch says:

    I’m assuming part of the offer was just to be able to tell the fans they made an offer (especially to Sanchez), but whoops on that.

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  2. CMC_Stags says:

    PR move gone bad by the Bucs front office.

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  3. Greg says:

    So Jack Wilson is a two win player who is worth 8.4 million per year and Freddy Sanchez is a 4 or five win player worth 16-22 million per year? I’ll take the under if we’re betting on what they’ll get this winter. In a world where Mark Ellis gets two years and 11 million, Orlando Cabrera get one year and four million, Orlando Hudson gets one year and 3.38 million, and Adam Everett gets one year and one million, Jack Wilson is simply not worth 8.4 million and if Freddy Sanchez ends up taking down more than the 15.75 million that Roy Halladay will be making next year for being one of the top five starters in the game, then something is clearly wrong. I suspect it’s with your formula.

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    • joser says:

      You realize that according to their formula Halladay was worth $34M last year and has been worth over $20M so far this year. That he isn’t getting paid anywhere near that much is a sign of a bad (for him) contract, not necessarily a flaw in the formula.

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  4. Brant K says:

    I can’t wait to see the Pirates unload more major league talent for junk and get back poor value again. Granted the team wasn’t working and probably needed to get broken up but it would’ve been nice if the Pirates got back top grade talent for trading Nady, Bay, McClouth and to a lesser extent Nyjer Morgan.

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    • Ryan W says:

      Uhh, isn’t “top grade talent” what the Pirates have been getting back in their recent deals? In Tabata, LaRoche, and Milledge, the Pirates bought low on highly regarded players who had fallen out of favor with their previous organizations and are still quite young. It’s not as if the Pirates were the Marlins of a few years ago with a team full of talent to trade but rather one star and a bunch of role players. Given how threadbare the system was before Huntington arrived, trying to collect as many good players seems like the most reasonable strategy.

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  5. Greg says:

    Also, when evaluating Jack Wilson’s defense, you conveniently left out 2272 innings of slightly below average work in 2006 and 2007 and cherry picked 1323 of excellent work over his last two partial seasons.

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    • scott says:

      Slightly below average? I’m all for keeping writers on their toes and all, but Jack Wilson has been one of the 5 best shortstops for his whole career, outside of one -UZR & UZR/150 year. This is hardly cherry picking and likely Jack Wilson becoming a much better fielder.

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      • Greg says:

        In 2006 Wilson’s UZR/150 was -4.6. In 2007 his UZR/150 was -0.3. All I can do is go by the published numbers and those published numbers are slightly below average.

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      • Davidceisen says:

        Career numbers are much more accurate than single season numbers, especially when looking at UZR.

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      • Greg says:

        Agreed. Wilson is +5.5 on defense for his career. A far cry from the +19 and +17 that the article cites from the last two half seasons.

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  6. Tom B says:

    its the same move they pulled with everyone else on that team for the last 10 years. sign em young and cheap and trade em away. maybe the players are getting wise to their act?

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  7. Jim says:

    “Both offers were quickly shot down by the players, and there are some reports these offers were of the “take it or leave it” variety, not starting points to negotiations.”

    Really? Where were these reports?

    By all accounts, it seems the players initially thought that as well, but it has seemingly been established that the offers were a starting point to opening negotiations:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090720&content_id=5958712&vkey=news_pit&fext=.jsp&c_id=pit&partnerId=rss_pit

    Ultimately, IMO, if the 2 players re-sign, the value of their deals hinges not only on their intrinsic values(based on WAR, win shares), but on the value of the players replacing the two(if they were traded instead), and the value to fan perception–at least to the fans who still care(again, if they’d been traded instead.)

    i.e. They may have been able to justify trading McLouth or Bay(although some here disagree) based on the fact that the players could yield higher returns(even if they didn’t achieve the highest possible return) and the Pirates could recover from their losses with the replacements for those players, but I don’t think that same standard can be applied to Sanchez or Wilson, and it may be seen as a true ‘gutting’ by the fans if they’re both traded in the next 10 days.

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  8. Alireza says:

    What a lot of people, especially Pirates fans who seem to blindly follow Huntington, don’t get about the Sanchez offer is that it is an insult given the circumstances. Sanchez is going to be guaranteed that $8 million (actually $8.1 now with his all-star berth, and will probably hit another $0.1 or $0.2 million in incentives before all is said and done) so offering him a $3 million pay cut when he is sure to make more than $2 million in 2011 is ridiculous.

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  9. Gaupo says:

    The Pirates have played 92 games. Freddy has 334 abats. He needs 266 abats in 70 games. With the off days that the Pirates have historically given “Fragile Freddy”, September call-ups in which they could legitimately start a youngster over him as an audition…. not to add a possible injury….. 600 abats is not guaranteed. People keep talking like it’s a given.

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    • Greg says:

      Sanchez’s option vests with 600 PA, not 600 AB.

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      • Greg says:

        He already has 361 PA which is a pace of 3.9 PA per game that the Pirates play. The Pirates have 70 more games so if he keeps that pace up he will finish with 634 PA and his option will vest. If he gets injured or if the Pirates pull some shenanigans it might not vest.

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      • don says:

        I like the idea of vesting with ABs though. Does anyone do that? Financially discourage drawing walks.

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      • joser says:

        I like the idea of vesting with ABs though. Does anyone do that? Financially discourage drawing walks.

        Bengie Molina apparently thinks that’s in his contract.

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  10. MarkInDallas says:

    As a prologue to this story, Freddy Sanchez was traded to the Giants, as we know, for Tim Alderson in a move another FanGraphs writer questions as too high for Freddy.
    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/freddy-sanchez-for-who-seriously

    Sanchez then got hurt and barely played the rest of the season, missing his 600 PAs and $8M.

    I will be interesting to see what the Giants do with him and what his next contract is.

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