Carlos Beltran as Evidence of the Changing Market

In the winter of 2011, Carlos Beltran hit free agency. He was heading into his age-35 season, but he was also coming off a pretty great walk-year, as he posted a 152 wRC+ in 598 plate appearances, the best single season wRC+ of his career. Even with declining defensive skills and a sub-par UZR rating, he still racked up +4.3 WAR, 15th best in baseball among outfielders. And, because of a clause inserted in his contract, the Giants were not allowed to offer him arbitration, so he hit the market as a no compensation free agent.

And he got 2 years and $26 million. Heath Bell got $27 million that winter — granted, it was for three years instead of two — but the market still gave Heath Bell more guaranteed money than Carlos Beltran two off-seasons ago. Since then, two teams have paid to get rid of Heath Bell, and I think it’s fair to say that the market missed on that deal. But the market also clearly missed on Beltran that winter, as he was one of the most productive hitters signed that off-season and got a fraction of what the premier free agents were landing. That wasn’t a recessionary winter; that was the winter that saw Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder land deals for over $200 million apiece and $100+ million commitments for both Yu Darvish and Jose Reyes.

Now, Beltran is two years older, and heading into his age-37 season. His new walk year wRC+ is 132, still very good, but not at the level he was at the last time he went into free agency. His defense has continued to decline, and now his walk-year WAR is just +2.0. Still, the Cardinals made him a qualifying offer, so this time around, any team signing him would have to forfeit a draft pick in order to do so.

Two years older. Not as good of a player as he was. Compensation attached. This time, 3 years and $45 million.

There might not be a more clear sign of the changing economics of MLB than Carlos Beltran. Sure, the market occasionally misses on players and we shouldn’t expect Beltran to sign bargain deals every time he hits free agency just because he did last time. But this is a significant bump in valuation, despite the fact that Beltran is objectively worse by just about any measure you want to look at. If this version of Carlos Beltran is worth 3/$45M and the loss of a draft pick, what would this market think the Beltran of two years ago was worth?

There is just so much money in baseball right now that we have to be careful when comparing deals being signed now to deals signed in the past, even the recent past. I noted this briefly in the write-up of Robinson Cano‘s contract this morning, but Cano getting $240 million in 2013 is nothing like Alex Rodriguez getting $252 million in 2000. Since the first A-Rod deal was signed, total MLB spending on player payroll has risen from under $2 billion and is likely going to be pushing $3.5 billion when opening day payrolls are calculated next spring. Even with the wage suppressing mechanism of delayed free agency in place, MLB’s spending on player payroll is going to double in less than 20 years. Baseball is in an economic boom.

You probably know all this already, of course. The TV revenues have been talked about ad nauseam, and it doesn’t take an economist to look around at some of the contracts being signed this winter and say “hey, teams sure do seem to be spending a lot.” But I like the Beltran example as a reminder to evaluate contracts in the market they were given. Beltran was underpaid last time he hit free agency, and he probably was just overpaid this time, but any player who is currently ambulatory should probably get a raise over his prior contract, Barry Zito excluded. Prices are going up, and they’re going up pretty fast.

But enough of Beltran as a sign of baseball’s riches. Let’s at least spend a paragraph or two talking about Beltran as a player, and now, Beltran as a Yankee. Pretty much every projection I’ve seen for 2014 has him as a roughly league average player. Carlos Beltran, as great as his career has been, is probably currently overrated. It’s not that average players don’t have value, but they probably shouldn’t cost $15 million a year for three years, plus the loss of a draft pick, especially for their age 37-39 seasons.

As a part-time OF/part-time DH, Beltran can still help a contender, and probably help them for the next two years, though I wouldn’t be so sure about year three. But $15 million a year for an above average hitter/below average defender combo pack? When guys like David Murphy, David DeJesus, and Nate McLouth are all signing for around 2/$11M? Sure, those guys all need a platoon partner, and there’s value in not having to use two roster spots to fill one starting job, but OF/DH is the easiest place to run a platoon. You need four or five outfielders anyway, and it’s generally a good plan to have a few who are right-handed and a few who are left-handed, so building a relatively effective job share at those positions just isn’t that difficult.

There absolutely should be a premium value added to players who don’t have platoon splits — and thus don’t have to be pinch hit for in high leverage situations — and can play everyday regardless of who is pitching. But I don’t know that the premium should be 300% of the going rate of a pretty decent strong side of that platoon. Not having to have a guy on the bench to pinch hit for David Murphy isn’t that valuable.

So, yeah, I think the market missed on Carlos Beltran again. He should have gotten more as a free agent last time around, and less this time through. I like what the Yankees have done in replacing Robinson Cano’s spending with multiple pieces of value instead of one mega-contract, but this part of the plan looks like a bit of a waste of cash. Maybe he’ll age extremely gracefully and be worth the money, but after telling Robinson Cano that they wouldn’t pay for his late-30s, I’m not entirely sure why they saw it necessary to pay this much for Carlos Beltran’s late-30s.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


138 Responses to “Carlos Beltran as Evidence of the Changing Market”

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  1. Tim says:

    It’s probably worth noting that Beltran didn’t take the highest offer he got last time around.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      Or this time around. He had a couple 3/$48 million offers in hand.

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    • david k says:

      Why did the Yankees do this deal? They have the memories of recent playoff early exits when guys like Cano, Swisher, and Granderson had awful playoff series, and notice that all of these guys are gone. Granted they weren’t the only ones that did poorly, but they make up most of the ones that the Yanks could let walk after their contracts expired.

      Enter Beltran, with an extremely good postseason resume. Small sample? Maybe, but that had to be a huge factor here.

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    • Shankbone says:

      What was the number on the highest offer? I believe the only other team bidding was Cleveland, and Don Carlos wanted to go to a contender.

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  2. Danny says:

    Beltran mightt need a platoon partner this year…

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  3. Slats says:

    Fuck the Yankees.

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    • not a yankees fan says:

      Yep. I really want to tell them and all their fans that they would enjoy perpetually winning more if they just went through like 2-3 years of consistent, desperate suckitude, like the fans of most other teams have to deal with from time to time. Seriously.

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    • yankee fan says:

      LOL

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    • Other Yankees Fan says:

      Ya know, we’d really appreciate not being treated like crap merely for the baseball team we root for. I realize all fan bases have their jerks, but that kind of stuff really isn’t helping. I agree with the guy who says Yankees fans should be more accepting of a rebuild so they can establish a sustainable run of success that can win now and plan ahead at the same time.

      But people like you are just jerks with no place on a site for intelligent analysis of baseball. Appleman should smite you where you stand.

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  4. Bryrob58 says:

    And that he missed much of 2009 and 2010 before his first walk year referenced

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  5. JS7 says:

    In 2011 after Pujols signed w/the Angels the Cards signed Carlos Beltran. Today, after Cano signed w/SEA, the Yankees signed Beltran.

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  6. Near says:

    If I recall I believe the negotiations with the Giants impacted the timing of his last contract until his market bottomed out, which allowed the Cardinals to obtain a now undervalued player. A lot of people wouldn’t believe the Giants were dumb enough to surrender an elite talent like Zack Wheeler and not resign the player they received for him. Not a veteran-loving club with a veteran who produced 4.3 WAR in his walk year. There was also an agency debacle where Beltran fired Boras and went with Lozano into the offseason.

    And, to point out the obvious, this move was probably not based strictly on production. The Yankees wanted Beltran’s name and fame in their lineup, like they want a decaying Derek Jeter, an older Ichiro and near-retirement Alfonso Soriano.

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    • Shankbone says:

      Your recollection isn’t correct. The Giants made an effort to re-sign Beltran but he wanted to test the market to the fullest. They moved on, first trading for Melky Cabrera on Nov 7, then Angel Pagan on Dec 7. Beltran ended up having to choose between the Cards and the Indians. There might have been a third mystery team. That’s a pretty easy choice, and the Cards knew that his desire for a competitive team meant they didn’t have to improve their offer.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      The Yankees are paying Soriano a total of 6.8 million between this year and last, and he’s already been worth 1.8 WAR for them.

      He’s literally already been a positive investment for them.

      Also, Jeter still kills lefties, even in his 25 PA against them last year and doesn’t kill you against righties when he’s healthy. He can’t field, but that’s what Brendan Ryan is for.

      Ichiro sucks, though. I’ll give you that.

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  7. Tom B says:

    Just because Beltran outperformed “the market” that doesn’t mean the market was wrong at the time. It also doesn’t mean it is right now.

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    • Dylan says:

      No, it doesn’t necessarily mean that. But the market was pretty clearly wrong at the time. Beltran was terrific in 2009 (put up 2.9 WAR in half a season, that alone is worth more than $8 million) and 4.3 WAR in 2011. He was a safe bet to be worth at least $10 million per season, despite the lost 2010 season. He had just come off a year in which he was almost completely healthy and he was worth more than he got even playing half a season.

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      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        He had missed all of the season before his walk year and half of the season before that, and he was 35 years old.

        If there’s one thing he wasn’t in 2012, it was “a safe bet.”

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      • Shankbone says:

        He missed two big weeks with a wrist injury after he was traded to the Giants. He also had ice packs wrapped around both knees constantly. His fielding was lackluster at best as well. He was definitely not a safe bet.

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  8. Cmon Mannn says:

    Cmonnn Mannn, the reason for the disparancy is simple. Beltran was seen as a far greater injury risk the last time he was up for free agency. He played in about 160 games in 2010 and 2009 combined. Noone thought his knees would hold up. Now that his past three seasons have been full, those doubts are stymied a bit

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    • chuckb says:

      After watching him play RF last year, do you think anyone expects his knees to hold up over the next 3 years? He’s basically a DH now and everyone has to expect that he’s going to be horrible when he does play the field. The Yankees are paying $15 million a year for a pretty good hitting 37, 38, and 39 year old DH, at best.

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  9. James says:

    In other news, Joba Chamberlain is still a free agent and no one remembers that.

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  10. jruby says:

    Yeah, I really think the first contract was very suppressed because of the injury issues in ’09 and ’10. I mean, at the beginning of 2011, I was looking at Beltran’s career in a reflective manner, almost certain that he was done. I wasn’t so into advanced metrics, and, for instance, didn’t realize he put up 2.9 WAR in just 81 games in ’09, but I was pretty convinced he was done, wouldn’t ever play 100 productive games a season ever again. I think a fair number of baseball people thought the same. When your internal narrative says “this guy’s done”, you find ways to undervalue huge production in ’11 by focusing on the “two of his last three years have fallen off the tracks.”

    TL;DR version of that rambling anecdote: this deal definitely does speak to the changing economics, but the picture’s not complete without considering Beltran’s 2011 in the context of his last 3 years.

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  11. schlomsd says:

    Jonah Keri tweeted something related to this:

    https://twitter.com/jonahkeri/status/409166274917187584

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  12. schlomsd says:

    “Wild stat: In ’03, MLB players got 62% of revenue. In ’12, 42%.”

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  13. Damn my torpedo says:

    Cashman will be fired following this season. You read it here.

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  14. Johnny says:

    I remember exactly why Beltran got only 2/26. It was because of his knees. He could barely get on the field from 2008-2010 so teams were not exactly giddy about offering more than 2 years.

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  15. Steve holt says:

    I think one of the reasons that Beltran is so highly rated is that he goes on these filthy, ridiculous tears at really good times (ie postseasons) and people get to see his potential. When he is on, he must be close to the most dangerous all round hitter in the game.

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  16. Branch Rickey says:

    From the L side of the plate, Beltran will hit 15 HR per year out of Yankee Stadium….and he will make a couple of fabulous plays throwing guys out from RF….and with this deal he will make it to Cooperstown……all good for a good guy.

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    • bjoak says:

      As a 37 year-old, I can assure you that just assuming I can physically do the things I did four years ago is not a good idea. And, by “the things I did four years ago” I mean–in comparison–hitting a home run at all as opposed to hitting the same number.

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    • Sparkles Peterson says:

      Beltran will not throw anyone out from RF, because his outfield arm is no longer a positive and because the Yankees would be insane to let him see significant time in the field.

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      • Zen Madman says:

        Are we talking about the same RF? You know, the new Yankee Stadium with the Little League field dimensions? Also, Beltran threw a guy out from RF in the NLCS. He’s not what he was in the field, but it more about range (knees) than anything else.

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  17. Hack Wilson says:

    We should sign Shin-Soo Choo now and just play 4 outfielders. Leave 2B vacant and have the extra outfielder play a shallow right-field. Should be able to gun down some guys going to 1st.

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    • BigPattyG says:

      Like a roamer in softball! I like it.

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    • Michael Scarn says:

      Jeter’s got fantastic range to his left so that sounds like a perfect plan.

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    • Bill says:

      With the right field fence pretty much bordering the infield, why do they need any on the right side of the infield. Remember last year when Jeffrey Maier took that infield popup away from Cano? Although, with the Yankees, I think they would be better off putting that extra infielder between second and third as their current shortstop has a little trouble moving to his left. And his right. Backwards isn’t too good either.

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  18. What that guy says:

    But how much should I pay for him in my fantasy league?

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  19. BigPattyG says:

    Probably worth noting: the Yankees had already lost their early draft picks by signing McCann and Ellsbury. They are basically forgoing the next draft in order to binge on the free agent market. I bring this up since Dave mentioned Beltran costing a draft pick several times. Beltran is effectively costing them, what, their third round pick?

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    • JimNYC says:

      They lost two picks signing McCann and Ellsbury, and gained two from Cano and Granderson. This costs them their second round pick.

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    • Abcd says:

      Didn’t they get comp picks for Cano and Granderson? So they lose their first round pick, and two comp picks because of these signings.

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      • Shankbone says:

        This is correct. The Yanks currently have their 2nd round pick but no comp picks. The Mets and Mariners have their 1st round protected, they lose their 2nd round.

        This is no longer up to date, but its a pretty clear picture of the whole deal: http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/ask-ba-whats-the-updated-draft-order/

        The remaining FAs with draft pick cost are: Ervin Santana, Shin-soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jiminez and Stephen Drew.

        Napoli and Kuroda are back with their original teams, so they are non-factors now in the draft pick circus.

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        • Dag Gummit says:

          “The remaining FAs with draft pick cost are: Ervin Santana, Shin-soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jiminez and Stephen Drew.”

          What about Kendrys Morales? I’m certain the Mariners sent him a QO.

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        • Shankbone says:

          Yup. Forgot about him because I just can’t see his market developing and they’ll work something out with SEA. If he does sign somewhere else the Mariners lose their comp pick for him, otherwise they lose the 2nd round pick.

          He’s got a very limited market with the DH profile. No NL team is going to be interested, and very few AL teams will be. The A’s/Rays won’t punt the pick, the Angels don’t want him, the Sox are full up, etc.

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  20. RyanOneal says:

    Every dollar worth it considering the knowledge and wisdom he’ll impart on the Yankee Youth

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  21. BMarkham says:

    So the Yankees had a chance this year to have their first round pick as well as three compensation picks. That could of hugely rejuvenated their farm system. But between resigning Kuroda, and signing Ellsbury, McCann, and Beltran, they end up with none of that. And this is still a team with a lot of holes.

    This year should be remembered as a year where the Yankees could have really started the rebuilding, especially with Pettite and Rivera retiring and making Jeter the last man standing of the core four. But instead the Yankees continued to bet on signing high paid free agents up there in age. The Yankees need to be reminded that dynasties are built by first building a great minor league system. If they would have decided to only sign guys without a QO they would have had the best draft class next year easily.

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    • Raf says:

      As productive as the farm system was, they still had high profile older veterans like Wade Boggs, Darryl Strawberry, Tim Raines, etc on the ballclub.

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      • bmarkham says:

        Right. I’m not saying they should be an entirely home grown team. Just that for sustained success your organization needs to be able to develop it’s own talent. The reason for the Yankee’s sustained success was the core four. They were willing and able to put expensive free agents around those guys but it doesn’t happen without them. You can’t build a world series contender through just free agency. Its not just about cost but opportunity. Most players are rookies at 22-24 more than 19-21. So by the time they reach free agency they’ve already produced most their value. This is especially true as more and more teams take to extending their players before free agency, buying out the few free agent eligible seasons where they still figure to be at their most productive levels. This is what the Yankees are missing out on right now.

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    • dustin says:

      Is next year’s draft class considered a good one?

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    • jdbolick says:

      Trouts and Ellsburys notwithstanding, picks at the end of the first round rarely produce above average major league players. New York already has some pieces in its farm system, although the most advanced are outfielders.

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      • nv says:

        Mason Williams seems to have stalled. The best prospects they have are catchers.

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      • NS says:

        “picks at the end of the first round rarely produce above average major league players”

        Show your work.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-changing-value-of-draft-picks/

          The Yankees gave up the 18th overall pick to sign McCann.

          The best 18th overall pick of the past 20 years is RA Dickey, who had to completely re-invent himself in order to be a productive pitcher. He has been worth 15.7 rWAR (I don’t like fWAR for knuckleballers) over his career, and just 0.2 of that was for Texas, the team that drafted him.

          The second best 18th overall pick? Ike Davis.

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        • nada says:

          the 18th pick, for whatever reason, seems to have had especially bad luck. Good players in the 19th pick include Shelby Miller and oh, Roger Clemens; then at the 20th there’s Mike Mussina and CC Sabathia. If you use the average of the 18th-20th picks, the expected WAR is 5.4.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          “The expected WAR is 5.4″

          Exactly. Unless something goes horribly wrong, McCann is going to be worth a lot more than 5.4 WAR over the next 5 years.

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        • Pitnick says:

          Well, yeah, but they have to pay him too.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          But the Yankees place a higher value on a win than other teams do. If he’s a 3-4 win player for the next 5 years, which wouldn’t surprise me at all, he’s going to produce more than 5.4 WAR in surplus value.

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      • nada says:

        even if that’s true–and I’d like to see a source–the rare players that do end up above-average major league players make it worth the risk.

        Because there is simply no other way to get a WAR/$ value on the scale of a good, young, cost-controlled player. Those players basically constitute free WAR for your team; which means that you can spend the money in your budget to buy WAR around them.

        I think this is the point being made above, that even though the Yanks are rich, it would be nice if they had a base of let’s say 10WAR that was more guaranteed (young players, less risk of injury or decline) and near-free. After that 10, they can spend the enormous amounts of money that the Yankees spend to buy another 15 or so, then you’ve got yourself a playoff contender. 15 WAR * ~7M/WAR = 105M, and that’s assuming they can buy WAR at the market rate.

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      • BMarkham says:

        Well, almost every player drafted is less than 50% chance of reaching the big leagues. But that’s where talent comes from, besides international markets which are also important to be involved in. I’m not saying that getting a bunch of compensation picks insures the Yankees will be great in a few years. But they need to return to the way of developing great talent as well as putting free agents around the developed talent if they want to have another sustained run of success. By signing away picks, the Yankees are making it more difficult to have players that play out all of their prime years as a Yankee. As such, it becomes difficult to have sustained success because your players have smaller windows at being impact players on your team. The Yankees have had a lot of players in and out of that organization over the years but the consistency of the core four was the foundation of their run.

        Yeah, they won in 2009, with a lot of free agents. But we’re talking about sustained success here, and not just regular team sustained success, success in terms of talking about the Yankees. It is nice though, having such a high budget team spend so much per WAR that it negates a lot of the advantages of being a big market team. Just because the Yankees are a high payroll team doesn’t mean they don’t need a minor league system.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran are each going to be much more valuable than the average 18th overall pick over the course of their contracts.

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      • cowdisciple says:

        Right, which is why they cost money. The real question is whether they’ll be more valuable than the picks and $283 million.

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  22. Disgruntled Expat says:

    Good article, but as implied in the comments above this sentence is not correct:

    But this is a significant bump in valuation, despite the fact that Beltran is objectively worse by just about any measure you want to look at.

    He is not worse from a health perspective. Older yes, but his knee injury and the microfracture surgery he was considering were considered an immediate threat to his career (i.e., he might be forced to retire).

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  23. Richard says:

    BTW, with the way that people are cutting the cord on cable these days, we’re likely near or at the top of the peak in terms of TV revenue and thus cost per WAR.

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    • nada says:

      interesting idea, but I don’t think you’re considering (or we know) what will happen in the post-cable era. It’s conceivable that MLB.tv will end up more profitable than cable is now. In other words, TV revenue is probably at a peak, but it could just be shifting towards MLB’s online offerings.

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      • Spencer Dean says:

        In spite of a much smaller audience, boxing makes way more money through payperview than it ever could on ABC.

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      • Ebenezer says:

        Wendy Thurm’s 11/26 post on the Astros’ Regional Sports Network bankruptcy court fight is a cautionary tale, especially since the U.S. economy is still sputtering. Wendy’s 7/26 post on the Dodgers’ TV deal states that sports programming on cable and satellite systems is heavily subsidized by viewers who wouldn’t pay for those channels if they had to pay separately for them.

        However, I don’t know how one predicts if/when a bubble like this pops, or, as you suggest, MLB will be creative enough to find other lucrative sources of money. But if Wendy’s numbers are in the ballpark, then sports viewers would have to pay much more to keep team TV revenues at the same level.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/astros-regional-sports-network-awash-in-losses-and-lawsuits/#more-141674

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/dodgers-could-be-last-team-to-strike-gold-with-local-tv-deal/

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        • bjoak says:

          Regional sports networks used to be the way to cash in. Now it’s cable companies. Why? The cable companies know they’re done if they can’t provide live events people can’t get any other way (at least, not legally). Unfortunately, MLB doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that it will eventually shrink their TV audience to only the few people who have cable.

          I would love for them to take the blackout restrictions out of mlb.tv and just go that route. It costs less than a month of cable, but I’m not sure the cable companies will ever agree to it. In the future, it will be more worthwhile for them to milk people for six months of cable. Probably at some point it will get ugly with litigation between MLB and cable companies.

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  24. will says:

    Draft classes don’t sell tickets. The chance of draft picks becoming major league stars? Is rare, would it of been a good idea for the Royals? Yes, but not the yankees. It’s just business

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    • bmarkham says:

      Yeah, and Jeter, Rivera, Pettite, and Posada were great for business. Now the yankees don’t have any developed talent and business is bad.

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      • chris says:

        How did business end up in 2009 after the last time they did this in free agency?

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        • BMarkham says:

          One WS victory is not sustained success. Especially when talking about the Yankees. Is that what Yankees fans are hoping for now? To be a World Series worthy team every once in a while? Mere mortal franchises would be happy with that, but most Yankee fans I’ve met are not OK with that.

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        • chris says:

          You are making a lot of assumptions based on one sentence. I think making the playoffs every year but 2 for almost 20 years is sustained success. I would imagine that actual, smart Yankee fans would just hope to make the playoffs every year. They’ve been very good at doing that. Once you are in, I don’t have to tell Fangraphs that it’s a crapshoot. Clearly, if you know Yankee fans that expect to win the World Series every year…they are stupid.

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        • chris says:

          Also, saying they don’t have any developed talent is just wrong. I expect better from fangraph commenters. You are just spewing the usual, espn Yankee narrative nonsense. I could reel off plenty of developed talent from this year and the last few on the 25 man. Cano, their developed talent, just got the 4th richest contract in history.

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  25. fjtorres says:

    It’s a safe bet that a chunk of Beltran’s contract is bookkept under PR and community relations instead of baseball operations. :)
    The Yankees live by media hype and know it. So they act accordingly.
    Given to equally useful players, the Yankees will generally go with the bigger reputation, name, player even at a higher cost. It is part of maintaining their brand.
    That is why the odds of Johnson being their regular 2b, despite him being perfectly adequate, are close to zero and Infante and Phillips are more likely to open the season in pinstripes. Which one it is will depend on how much of Phillips salary the Reds want to dump. I suspect Cashman will happily take all of it if he doesn’t have to send Gardner.
    There’s a lot of talk of the Cardinal way, well factoring in player buzzworthiness and reputation and “overpaying” for it is part of the Yankee way. :)

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    • chuckb says:

      Yeah, Omar Infante is a great example of one of those “big-name free agents” the Yankees just love to sign. Definitely much more of a household name than Johnson is.

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  26. FeslenR says:

    It’s crazy how the market has gotten worse….although it’s been fun seeing all the movement.

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  27. Tripp says:

    To me, this signing is a team paying a premium for what they believe will be the most valuable wins added. I see this as the Yankees viewing Beltran as the player who gets them from around 93 to 95 wins. And we all know those last few early/mid 90s wins are the most valuable to a team.

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    • Sean says:

      This team is not a 90 win team though.

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      • fjtorres says:

        Not even close.
        But once they finish writing checks and moving contracts around, they will be…
        …on paper.
        Just as the Blue Jays were last year. :)
        It’s a lot easier to make the playoffs (on paper) in December than for real in October.
        As the saying goes, crap happens… And it happens more often to ballplayers in their mid-to-late 30′s.

        The key point with the two Beltran contracts is the last one factored in health risk and this one doesn’t.

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      • John DiFool says:

        They’re a 90 loss team (according to BB Prospectus’ W3 measure):

        http://www.baseballprospectus.com/standings/

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  28. Dan says:

    So what happens in 10 or 15 years if the bundled TV (aka cable, satellite) model goes the way of the dinosaur and people are essentially able to order shows and networks a la carte over the net?

    Most projections in that scenario involve MLB TV revenue taking a nosedive. Are all these clubs going to be stuck with massive contracts they can no longer afford? Do clubs go bankrupt? Do they just bargain with the MLBPA to slash every player in the league’s salary by 20-40%?

    It’ll be interesting to watch what happens because the bundled TV packages are probably not long for the world.

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    • Swingdoc says:

      Yes, but how much of that will be offset by the insatiable demand by advertisers for live sports programming. It doesn’t seem like that trend is going anywhere but up – nice big schedules to boot. It certainly will be interesting how it all plays out but I wouldn’t put much money on the players’ wallets getting lightened significantly.

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      • Dan says:

        some sports like the NFL are probably insulated. But MLB TV revenue is a racket that is going to go down hard. I mean some of these local TV stations can collect $3-5 per subscriber per month for 5-10 (or more) million subscribers when regular season games are drawing terrible ratings relatively speaking.

        I mean the Astros had a game draw a 0.00 rating this year meaning not a single Nielsen TV was tuned into the game. They also pulled a 0.04 with < 1000 households tuned in to another game. And this with a network paying them $80M a year for the rights to those games.

        I love MLB, but these mega local TV deals seem like a massive bubble that simply cannot go on for too long. I mean companies sign contracts and then when they can't meet them, they go bankrupt.

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      • Peter Litman says:

        MLB TV revenue is going up because of competition among the pay TV distributors (cable, DBS, telco) who are willing to pay higher per-subscriber license fees rather than not carry the channels and risk losing subscribers to other distributors. Advertising revenue is a much smaller source of growth in value.

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    • fjtorres says:

      What happens at that point is MLB broadcasts go to global subscription services with no blackout restrictions. The loss in local viewers gets offset by the expatriate fan base.
      People want to watch baseball and if their eyeballs stop being currency enough, enough will pay for it to keep the wheels running for a while.

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    • bjoak says:

      As I said above,

      “Regional sports networks used to be the way to cash in. Now it’s cable companies. Why? The cable companies know they’re done if they can’t provide live events people can’t get any other way (at least, not legally). Unfortunately, MLB doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that it will eventually shrink their TV audience to only the few people who have cable.

      “I would love for them to take the blackout restrictions out of mlb.tv and just go that route. It costs less than a month of cable, but I’m not sure the cable companies will ever agree to it. In the future, it will be more worthwhile for them to milk people for six months of cable. Probably at some point it will get ugly with litigation between MLB and cable companies.”

      This is really not a 10 year scenario. This is a 5 year scenario max. It’s a biased sample but 50% of the cable subscribers I knew three years ago don’t have it now. I have two friends right now whom I’ve been advising on how to watch whatever they want on-line because they’re fed up with cable bills.

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      • Jason B says:

        You allude to it, but I would be careful about basing too much of your thinking on your sample of four people that you know with cable.

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  29. John C says:

    Beltran getting that contract is more a sign of the New York Yankees’ profligacy and desperation than anything else. One of the rumors was that K.C. had made him a similar offer, which smacks of the same thing–the Royals are desperate for more offense.

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  30. Joel says:

    Along those lines… what year would we peg the “crowdsourcing” numbers at? 2005? 2000?

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  31. Cappy says:

    Alex Rodriguez 3b $25,000,000
    Mark Teixeira 1b $23,125,000
    CC Sabathia sp $23,000,000
    Jacoby Ellsbury cf $21,000,000
    Brian McCann c $17,000,000
    Hiroki Kuroda sp $16,000,000
    Carlos Beltran of $15,000,000
    Derek Jeter ss $12,000,000
    Ichiro Suzuki rf $6,500,000
    David Robertson rp $5,500,000
    Alfonso Soriano of $5,000,000
    Brett Gardner lf $4,000,000
    Kelly Johnson 3b $3,000,000
    Ivan Nova sp $2,800,000
    Vernon Wells of $2,400,000
    Brendan Ryan 2b $2,000,000
    Shawn Kelley rp $1,500,000
    Francisco Cervelc $1,000,000
    Michael Pineda sp $500,000
    Eduardo Nunez if $500,000
    David Phelps rp $500,000
    Minimum $500,000
    Minimum $500,000
    Minimum $500,000
    Minimum $500,000

    $189,325,000

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    • fjtorres says:

      Take out A-Rod’s salary and they have enough for a 3b and another pitcher or two. Plus whatever salary they might move in trade.
      They probably have about $30m to work with.

      They may very well get their luxury tax reset.

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      • Ian R. says:

        Does A-Rod’s suspension actually delete his contract from the 2014 calculation? My understanding is that luxury tax is based on the AAV of the contract, not the year-to-year salary (that’s to prevent teams from deferring money and back-loading contracts to manipulate the system).

        So, if A-Rod loses his appeal and misses an entire season+ worth of games, one could argue that the suspension just reduces the total value of his contract by the ~$33 million he would have been paid. It’s a ten-year contract, so that works out to about $3 million in AAV for luxury tax purposes.

        I have no idea whether it actually works this way, though. And, of course, A-Rod could very well have his suspension reduced or overturned, which would make the whole thing moot.

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    • indyralph says:

      My understanding (from Joe Sheehan maybe?) is that the contracts traded for are excepted from the luxury tax limits. And so the Soriano and Wells money does not apply to the $189M limit. I could be wrong, I’m working off a fuzzy memory.

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      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        It’s calculated based on how much the Yanks are paying the people they traded for, not on how much their original contract was worth.

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    • Eric R says:

      I think the $189M includes benefits, so the payroll portion would be ~$179M

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  32. Spa City says:

    I don’t mean to go too far off topic, but the surprising thing to me is not the elevated market rates – it is the fact that the Yankees decided to pay so much for a player who is unlikely to be better than their in-house, cheaper alternatives. Brett Gardner seems like to equal Beltran’s value (albeit mostly on defense). Curtis Granderson seems roughly equivalent to Beltran in overall value, and he could have been retained without losing a draft pick.

    Is a Beltran/Ellsbury/Suzuki outfield noticeably better than a Granderson/Gardner/Suzuki outfield? Enough better to justify losing the draft picks and spending so much more?

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    • chuckb says:

      your scenario assumes that Ichiro is in the starting lineup regardless and I see no reason why that should be true. Soriano/Ellsbury/Gardner is demonstrably better than either of the two outfields you suggested. Moreover, even if the current outfield does include Ichiro with Gardner traded for a pitcher or infielder, the team will be better at 3b or in the rotation even if the outfield is only equal.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      A Beltran/Ellsbury/Suzuki outfield? What on earth are you talking about?

      Ichiro is now the 5th OF. You might say it’s a Gardner/Ellsbury/Beltran outfield or a Soriano/Ellsbury/Beltran outfield if they trade Gardner or decide to use him as the super-sub.

      Unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong, Ichiro Suzuki is not going to get more than 300 PA next year.

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  33. fjtorres says:

    The Yankees now match reasonably well with the Mariners: the M’s have three starting 2b and no true CF or DH.
    Would they even discuss a deal? :)

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      I’m pretty sure they only have one starting 2B.

      They do also have a 2B prospect and Dustin Ackley, but neither of them can be considered starting 2B.

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      • fjtorres says:

        Depends on who they’re starting for. :)
        Franklin, in particular, could fit the Yankees’ plans just fine, what with the $500K price tag.
        And trading for him would be so un-Yankee move hundreds of heads would explode in the NY media.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          The reason it would be an un-Yankee move is that the Yankees aren’t really in the business of trading good players like Gardner for players who might be good or might be like every Mariners position player not named Kyle Seager.

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        • fjtorres says:

          So you’re saying they won’t even talk about it?
          Fair enough, that’s what I was wondering.

          Just that if the Yankees are serious about the luxury tax reset, trading one year of their 30 year old outfielder for five years of a 22 year old 2b with pop would save a nice chunk of change for Tanaka. Or some other FA.

          Not Yankee-like, but staying to a budget is also not Yankee-like. Or even talking as if they are staying to one.
          (Shrug)

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  34. JuanPierreDoesSteroids says:

    There absolutely should be a premium value added to players who don’t have platoon splits — and thus don’t have to be pinch hit for in high leverage situations — and can play everyday regardless of who is pitching.

    Much different tone from this article from the end of last year: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/david-dejesus-alex-rios-and-perception/

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  35. jim fetterolf says:

    Beltran should do well in Yankee Stadium with the cozy right field, both offensively and defensively. Kauffman Stadium would have exposed him badly with the glove and impacted his homers.

    Beltran should be a 3-3.5fW player this year, occasionally getting breaks against righties at DH filling in for the recently righty challenged Soriano. Good signing for Beltran and the Yankees and saved the Royals from an incredibly stupid signing. That’s win-win-win.

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  36. Gilbert Gomez says:

    In addition of all comments the Beltran is a really good choice for the line up for postseason. But remember is coming from PR, we have a lots fans of Yankees in the island and probably the most selling jersey for 2014 says in the back “BELTRAN” …

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  37. Jim says:

    Beltane’s greatest assets are that he is a switch hitter and has good discipline. He also bats better on the left side than the right. With most pitchers he has a definite advantage as most are right handed. You don’t often see him swinging at low and outside pitches like Holiday, or pitches out of the strike zone like Molina. As a result he gets on base either through walks or hits on good pitches. This helps the other batters who precede or follow him get better pitches. His steady production with very few slumps at the plate make him a great asset in the lineup for any team.

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