Elvis Andrus, Texas Ranger

The Texas Rangers have the best prospect in baseball, a 20-year-old shortstop named Jurickson Profar who the public projection systems think could be a league average player in the big leagues right now. He’s going to start the year in Triple-A, though, as neither middle infield position is currently available in Arlington, with Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler currently entrenched at shortstop and second base respectively. Kinsler is beginning the first year of a five year contract extension, and after posting the worst year of his career at age 30, he wouldn’t be particularly easy to trade at the moment. Thus, the presumption has been that Andrus was going to be the odd man out, especially since he’s represented by Scott Boras, an agent known for encouraging his players to get to free agency when they have the chance.

Well, apparently, we can throw that assumption down the drain, because Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Rangers are getting close to signing Andrus to an eight year extension that would total approximately $120 million. Because it’s eight new years on top of the two he’s already signed for, the Rangers’ obligation to Andrus now runs $131 million over the next 10 years. It’s a long contract and a lot of money, but given Andrus’ skills and value, this is a deal worth doing for Texas.

You’re going to hear a lot of people talk about how $120 million for a below average hitter is crazy. He has 14 career home runs and a wRC+ of 86. This is a lot of money to pay for defense and baserunning, and in worlds where defense and baserunning aren’t considered to be all that important, this deal is going to take some heat. But, in Major League Baseball, defense and baserunning are important, and Andrus has the skillset to earn this kind of paycheck.

The glove and the legs shouldn’t really be much of a question at this point. No matter how you choose to evaluate them, Andrus is among the best in the game at adding value both in the field and on the bases. His career UZR at shortstop is +29, and when you factor in the positional adjustment, that comes out to +55 runs in defensive value over the last four years, putting him #7 in MLB. At +29 runs in baserunning value, he’s #2 over the last four years. Between his glove and his legs, we’re talking an average of +21 runs above average per year during his career to date. That makes him a two win player before he ever sets foot in the batters box.

And, while Andrus isn’t exactly an offensive force, he’s turned himself into a decent offensive player, posting a wRC+ over 90 each of the last two years. Near average hitters have value, especially when they’re elite glove guys who are fantastic baserunners. And there are reasons to think that Andrus’ offense isn’t done growing either.

Matt Klaassen wrote about the future of Andrus’ bat back in February, noting that the lack of early career power isn’t the death knell that some might have you believe. Yes, he has a career .353 slugging percentage while playing half his games in Texas, but as Klaassen noted, players with similar track records at this point in their career have added power and become better hitters as they got older. Quoting Klaassen:

While I expected a few more surprises, it turns out that (given the parameters I set up, which may or may not have been well-chosen) players statistically similar to Andrus relative to their era, while of greatly varying quality, all managed to at least stay the same or improve as the moved through their twenties, as one would expect. The lack of power was not a problem with this. Perhaps predictably, even a hitter without much power can improve like most others if he combines good contact skills with good plate discipline.

Andrus has swung at fewer than 40% of the pitches he’s been thrown in his career, and he’s made contact 88% of the time he has chosen to chase. Contact skills and plate discipline are the base of a decent offensive skillset for a low powered player, and Andrus has already shown he has both of those things. If he adds even a little bit more power, projecting him as an average or even slightly above average hitter during his prime isn’t out of the question.

As Andrus’ offense improves, so too will his defense likely decline. Defense is a young man’s game, and as Tom Tango noted in a piece called Fielding Aging Curves on The Hardball Times back in 2008, unregressed data suggests that shortstops might peak defensively between 22 and 24, and even regressing that data heavily puts the peak no later than age 28. In reality, Andrus is probably headed towards a downward slope in defensive value, and the question is more about how long he’ll be able to sustain his current levels of performance rather than whether he can improve in the field.

But, the defensive aging curve for a 25-year-old with a pretty stellar health track record is not so steep that we should expect the years to steal more defensive value than they add with potential offensive improvement. In fact, it might be that Andrus has more near term offensive upside than he does defensive downside, and projecting him as a +5 win player in the next couple of years isn’t completely out of the question. He’s already established himself as a +4 win player with his current skills, and unlike Reyes, he’s been exceedingly durable.

Skepticism about the predictive nature of defensive metrics was one of the reasons that Michael Bourn had to settle for $48 million as a free agent this winter, but Bourn was a 30-year-old with serious contact problems, while Andrus would have reached free agency after his age-25 season. Toss in the scarcity of shortstops versus the abundance of center fielders, and the potential for continuing price escalation in MLB over the next two winters, and all of the sudden a $15 million AAV for Andrus’ 26-36 seasons looks downright reasonable.

However, this still leaves the Rangers without a place to put Jurickson Profar. Profar has the chops to handle shortstop, so blocking off the position will either force him to second base or make him trade bait, and as we noted, Kinsler is currently in his way at second base. But, luckily for the Rangers, Kinsler could still be a valuable player at first base (link goes to subscription required FG+, but it’s $5 per year — 42 cents per month — to sign up…), even though he doesn’t fit the profile of a slugging cleanup hitter. And the Rangers have a pretty big hole at first base right now.

Kinsler resisted the overture when the team asked him about moving to first base over the off-season, but this extension gives him a clear choice — he can either move to first base peaceably and remain with the only team he’s ever played for, or he can go the way of Michael Young, throw a big fit about getting moved to make the organization better, and eventually get traded to a lesser team to finish out his career. When Andrus’ future in Texas was uncertain, there was a real chance that Kinsler might be able to hang onto his second base job and stay in Texas. With Andrus in the fold, that option is off the table, and Kinsler can now choose between a trade or a positional change.

It might not happen this year, as some time in Triple-A won’t kill Profar and the Rangers will save some money long term by keeping him in the minors until June, but Profar is now the Rangers second baseman of the future, and Kinsler will either be the Rangers first baseman (or perhaps outfielder) or get himself traded out of town. Given the team’s weakness at first base, Kinsler could probably earn some points by volunteering to start taking groundballs at first now, in preparation for a potential move to the position in the second half of the year, should Profar prove ready to take over sooner than later.

Regardless of how the Kinsler situation plays out, though, the Rangers are better off with Andrus than without him, and at this price, it makes sense to take a shot on an Andrus-Profar double play combination for the long term. You can never have too many good players, and rather than being forced into moving Andrus as he got closer to free agency, the Rangers may have figured out how to keep one of their best players.

It wasn’t cheap, but defense isn’t as undervalued now as it was a few years ago, and Andrus is one of the game’s best examples of how defense and baserunning can make up for a lack of home run power. Profar would have been a good replacement for Andrus had Texas needed to go the trade route, but now, he might just be an even better teammate instead.




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


133 Responses to “Elvis Andrus, Texas Ranger”

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  1. filihok says:

    Kinsler and Moreland have almost identical offensive projections.

    Moreland’s a lot cheaper

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    • Woot says:

      That’s like saying McDonald’s and Five Guys are almost identical.

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      • Sparkles Peterson says:

        In that it’s a lot closer than knee jerk reactions would have you believe? Agreed.

        Five Guys is an overhyped Wendy’s with undercooked fries.

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        • Timb says:

          OH NO HE DIDN’T!!!

          (but seriously, no one can touch the time honored American classic that is In n’ Out).

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        • Joe D. says:

          “Five Guys is an overhyped Wendy’s with undercooked fries.”

          Wendy’s can’t sniff Five Guys’ jock.

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        • ROTK says:

          Can’t speak to Kinsler Moreland, but I can speak to burgers. Comparing Five Guys to Wendys? Please. Five Guys is on par with In ‘n Out and Shake Shack. Now, I’m OK with the fries comment. They could be better. But those burgers taste goooood.

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  2. Jaack says:

    Thank you Chuck Norris for making all headlines about baseball in Texas write themselves.

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  3. Matt says:

    “He’s already established himself as a +4 win player with his current skills, and unlike Reyes, he’s been exceedingly durable.”

    Wrong perception here. Jose Reyes was extremely durable entering his age 25 season too – played over 153 games the four years prior, topping 160 twice… And he was much more valuable overall.

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  4. AJ says:

    This deal is insane, imo. I would MUCH rather trade Andrus for an uber prospect package than pay him 120 million over 8 years, especially given that they have a ready made replacement with a higher upside than him already in the organization. This feels like it was heavily influenced by a combination of the endowment effect and loss aversion to me.

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    • busch says:

      My feeling is that they were not getting fair value for Andrus in the market (or what they deemed fair value). The uber prospect may have not been available.

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      • Spike says:

        why not (have gotten fair value)?

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      • Matt says:

        Well, they were offered J Upton+ for him this last off season. I’d say that’s pretty good value. A year from now, if Upton possibly returns to his 2011 level, they might really regret turning that down.

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        • philkid3 says:

          And if Upton repeats his 2012, they won’t.

          See how that works?

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        • todmod says:

          There’s zero evidence they were offered JUpton+. Even straight up for Upton may not have been on the table.

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        • Teddy says:

          Straight up for Upton would not have been fair to the Rangers. Even if we assume Upton is a slightly more valuable commodity. Elvis for 2 years 11M is a lot more valuable than JUpton for 3 years 39ishM. The third year on the deal isn’t worth as much as the 28 million.

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        • Matt says:

          Judging by Upton’s opening day performance and his 162-hr pace, I’d say they Rangers will regret not accepting that deal ;)

          On a more serious note, I’m not going to belabor the point that I think Upton > Andrus, because that’s debatable. I was simply trying to make the point that they had ‘fair-ish’ offers on the table for them for Andrus and they declined. They are in this situation because they were pretty conservative this off season. Only time will tell if that line of thinking pays off and they are able to get adequate value for Profar now (or simply move Kinsler to the OF, where he is less valuable to the team).

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        • YanksFanInBeantown says:

          Teddy, Upton isn’t slightly more valuable. Healthy Upton is much more valuable than healthy Andrus.

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      • Andy says:

        Nobody wants to trade their uber-prospects. Everyone wants to have a Trout or Harper than they control for 6 years and will make tons and tons of surplus value on, and nobody wants to take the chance that what they’ll get in return will be beneficial enough in the short run to outweigh the cost of what they’ll be giving up.

        For example, Brisbee wrote about a hypothetical trade involving Profar and Taveras. Seems alright, right? The Cardinals have a vacancy at SS, and the Rangers could use another OF. Both are among the highest-regarded prospects and are pretty much considered can’t-miss. But I’ll bet you neither Texas nor St. Louis wants to do this deal, even though it could easily be a win-win.

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    • BubbaNoTrubba says:

      If Texas would’ve gotten a Wil Myers or even a Carlos Correa, I’m sure they’d made the trade.

      But as others are pointing out, prospects are being valued very highly, both due to their cost effectiveness and their potential.

      I think what you’ll see is Billy Beane go Moneyballing slightly older free agents, because they’re getting undervalued as it is.

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      • Andy says:

        Disagree with your first point, agree with your other 2.

        Firstly, the Rangers have little need to trade for Correa, as they have more depth at SS in their system than any team, and it’s not even close. Secondly, Correa is too green to be very predictable right now (see also Gallo & Brinson for similar examples in the Rangers’ system).

        Myers is closer to what they might have been looking for, but Texas has shown in recent years how much they value their all-stars. I’m skeptical they’d trade Elvis, much less Profar, for Myers, even if he’s almost a can’t-miss. When a team is in win-now mode, as they are, they’re less likely to trade established players for prospects, even if they’re highly regarded and nearly major-league-ready. See also the proposed trade of Profar and Taveras that Brisbee wrote about recently, and watch for that trade to never happen.

        Your other points are good and I can totally see Beane doing that. That, I will watch for to happen.

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        • fjtorres says:

          To an extent, that is what Cleveland, Boston, and the Cubs did, sign second-tier free agents to more or less reasonable contracts even though expectation for the three are low to non-existent.

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    • stan says:

      Either the Rangers have a good feeling about Andrus’ offense improving or this is some sort of knee jerk reaction to losing Hamilton and wanting a long-term franchise icon. I have a feeling its the later.

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    • commenter #1 says:

      the assumption being that such a choice exists, which is probably incorrect. Once they didn’t get Upton, I bet they chose this route, and have only just completed the deal

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    • James Gualtieri says:

      I think behavioral economics is a way for lazy academics to explain anomalies without having to do much. But I agree it’s a bad deal.

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  5. Logan Davis says:

    Alert! Profar for Stanton rumors imminent! Raise blast shields!

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    • YP says:

      I’d be in heaven.

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    • SKob says:

      Of all the reasons the Rangers have for signing Andrus to a deal that ‘might’ be fair market value when they have a better option at league minimum to replace him, this actually makes the most sense. I’m surprised the article didn’t even touch the subject of trading Profar, but you can’t trade the kid until you have Andrus locked up. With 2 years left on his current deal, why extend Andrus for a deal that is no where near a bargain? The reason is because you had to have him locked in to move Profar. They have their middle infield secured for years with Kinsler not being a bad option. If they make the huge upgrade in the OF, this deal would have been the key starting point and would, at that point, make perfect sense.

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  6. Slats says:

    Trade Kinsler.

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    • Aggie E says:

      Not much value right now(in trade) and even if he gets back to 30/30 +defense and .800 OPS he still has a hefty contract and is 30 yrs old. he is worth more to Texas than any trade brings..

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    • Andy says:

      Not happening. Who would take him right now? What would they offer in return?

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  7. Old School says:

    “He might just ben an even better teammate instead.”

    I think you mean been.

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  8. kid says:

    $120 million for good base-running and defense? I have a feeling there won’t be too many supporters for this deal.

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    • chuckb says:

      He’s worth about $25 M this season. It’s not hard to see, even with regression, because of escalating salaries, how he’s going to be worth $120 M over the next 8 seasons ($15 M per).

      I’m surprised Boras didn’t get more.

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  9. John says:

    It doesn’t matter whether Andrus’s value comes from base running, defense, or offense–it only matters whether he has value. That said, I have to admit that I’m surprised Mr. Cameron is so willing to underwrite big, long-term deals like this one that don’t seem to leave much room for upside. The Rangers and Andrus seem like the perfect equation for looking AWAY from this sort of deal.

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    • Sparkles Peterson says:

      It does matter, because there are varying degrees of certainty to the value we assign to hitting, defense, and base-running, and they age differently.

      Regardless, I don’t think this is a bad deal given the inflation we’ve seen all offseason. Moving Kinsler to 1B, though, is nutty. It’s basically voluntarily surrendering a win and a half because you can’t find a fair trade for any of Kinsler, Andrus, or Profar.

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      • semperty says:

        Giving up a win and a half by moving Kinsler to 1B isn’t worth 2-4 wins that Profar brings by himself?

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        • Sparkles Peterson says:

          When the alternative is getting a fair trade for Kinsler, no it isn’t. It’s just impossible to believe that with 20 teams who could really use an upgrade at 2B, Texas can’t find something in return better than the average to below-average, overpaid 1B that Kinsler would become.

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        • stan says:

          Is there a fair trade for Kinsler at this point? I’d say his value just about equates to his salary right now. Therefore, just getting another team to take him without eating any of the $7M salary would be just about right. However, I think the Rangers are wise to keep all three of them for this year for purposes of developing Profar a bit more and keeping some depth handy. It seems a bit of a waste to install Profar at SS long-term but if they don’t have another 2b who’s ready I can see the logic there.

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      • stan says:

        Also because those factors are directly related to age and the Rangers have just paid for Andrus’ older years.

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        • jim says:

          they’ve paid for his 20s. the point of this deal isn’t to get andrus for his age 32 season, it’s to get him for every year until then. getting the old(er) years were part of the price

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        • JF says:

          HI THERE! MY NAME IS STAND AND I DON”T UNDERSTAND HOW THE BUSINESS OF BASEBALL WORKS!

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        • stan says:

          Andrus is 24 right now. His current deal expires after he turns 26 in August, 2014. The new deal is for his age 27-34 seasons. Is it even arguable that this deal is for his older seasons? Is it controversial to say that a person’s athletic peak is 27?

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      • Andy says:

        You think Ian would be worse at 1B than Moreland? I doubt it. I think Ian is probably as valuable at 1B as Moreland is. Maybe more, depending on whether Moreland improves any (and that doesn’t look terribly likely at his age…) so the question is, would Profar be as valuable at 2B as Ian would be? Almost certainly not Ian v. 2011, but quite possibly as valuable as Ian v. 2012 or more so.

        You can’t just assume that you can replace Moreland with a 4-5 WAR 1B. Those are few and far between and are locked up by their respective teams for 37 years.

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    • Posey Over Hamilton says:

      It does matter because the market perceives skills differently. In a strict WAR sense it may not turn out to be a disaster. However, there are similar players (great gloves and great speed) that will get nowhere close to a $100M deal. Simple reason is that the market doesn’t demand it. We see this happen in arbitration and in FA.

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  10. James Gualtieri says:

    I can concede the point about Andrus possibly being worth the money with his defensive value and possible salary inflation (although I don’t necessarily agree). But when you move Kinsler to first base you take away a lot of his value. He turns 31 this season and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he’s probably on the down swing of his career. If we take the mid point between his career woba and last season’s we’re looking at something around .340. If you look at what other 1b did over the past couple of years you’re now paying 14 mil-ish a year to a bottom 1/2 to bottom 1/3 1b. A lot of his value is derived from his ability to play 2b and post the kind of offensive production he does. At 1b he’s just another guy.

    I wasn’t privy to the justin upton trade negotiations, but given that the braves basically got him for delgado and prado and that the dbacks were looking for a ss in the offseason, you have to wonder why they didn’t try and move andrus then.

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    • Spike says:

      think of the first half of the season as Mitch Moreland’s audition to keep 1B. Kinsler may not be a top ten 1Bman going forward but he may be the best *Ranger* 1B option and at $15M per for the next 5 seasons they may not get equal value in a trade.

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      • Andy says:

        Exactly. They won’t get a better option. Who else is available to upgrade 1B? The Rangers aren’t going to acquire Pujols, Fielder, Votto, Goldschmidt, etc. Even the Royals probably aren’t desperate enough to trade Butler (who is a butcher anyway). So if Ian is a better 1B than Mitch is, and Profar is as good a 2B as Ian is, you’ve improved. Those are big “if”s, but certainly possible.

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    • Kevin Quealy says:

      I don’t think the DBacks wanted Elvis. From what I heard they wanted someone long term at shortstop and probably didn’t want to pay what they thought it would cost to resign Elvis. I’m sure the DBacks would’ve taken Profar but the Rangers weren’t going to bite on that.

      I bet Profar will be starting at second base for the Rangers by the beginning of next season. I don’t see the Marlins dealing Stanton for at least a couple of years but Price could really tempt the Rangers.

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  11. commenter #1 says:

    This is a good deal- gives the rangers great pricing on the entirety of andrus’s 20s. Even assuming no possible improvement in his skills, he’s got a floor of a 3-win player with his skillset

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  12. momomoses7 says:

    Not often I so strongly disagree with you Dave, but the more I look at this extension the more I think Texas overpaid. Even if the market is starting to value his skillset more than it did in the past, he doesn’t produce in the “money” categories which are still the driving factors in contract value. It’s also unlikely the team got any kind of discount by extending him, which is usually the main reason to extend a player 2 years away from free agency. It also seems unlikely there will be much (if any) surplus value to the extension. While it’s definitely plausible he becomes a better hitter, he also doesn’t seem to be on the brink of a huge leap in offensive performance that would substantially affect his value between this offseason and the next. I think the team would have been better served letting him play out this season and then deciding next offseason whether to extend him for the same amount or trade him.
    Committing this kind of money to a player who the market likely won’t value properly and who will probably have the same perceived value a year from now just seems like an unnecessary gamble from a usually astute front office, and I feel that way before considering that they have an excellent, cost-controlled replacement for Andrus in house. It’s not that he isn’t good or shouldn’t be extended, but I see pretty much 0 benefit to the team in doing it this spring instead of next winter/spring.

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  13. momomoses7 says:

    Also will be curious to see the actual terms of the extension, your post stipulates that it’s 6 years on top of his current 2 while Heyman’s says it’s 8/120 AFTER these next 2, which would be insane. More inclined to agree with your interpretation but apparently those details haven’t been confirmed yet

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    • Teddy says:

      While the deal would be less valuable, wouldn’t you rather have him for 10 years 131M in total than 8 years 120M?

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  14. Ivan Grushenko says:

    One factor in favor of this deal is that top caliber free agents aren’t going to be as plentiful as they were in the past if teams keep signing all their best players to long term deals. It might be that if you want to get an all-star player in the prime of his career you pretty much have to develop him yourself and then sign him to this type of deal when he’s 25 or younger. I’d still have traded him for Upton if that had been an option, but this mitigates that a bit. Also Moreland can play OF and Cruz and Murphy don’t inspire all that much confidence so it gives them options. For that matter it could be that Profar plays OF this year.

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  15. Nick says:

    ” With Andrus in the fold, that option is off the table, and Kinsler can now choose between a trade or a positional change.

    Who says he has a choice? If they tell him to go to 1B, what’s he going to do, fake an injury? Purposely botch plays in the field and strike out at the plate? Nobody wants an unhappy player, but if they can’t find a trade for fair value, Kinsler had better start practicing those scoops.

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  16. Sandy Kazmir says:

    Folks always like to bring up that Kinsler could move to 1B, but wouldn’t LF seem more ideal? He has neither elite speed nor arm, but he’s a smart player that runs well enough. I think he would profile better at LF before moving all the way to the right of the defensive spectrum.

    Also, signing this deal doesn’t necessarily make him a Ranger for life. Many teams view players with cost certainty as a valuable commodity. Instead of having to overpay in free agency they would be looking at Andrus as someone that comes at somewhat of a discount. This makes him more appealing in trade and more likely to return a better package.

    A corollary would be the Rays extensions of both James Shields and Wade Davis. Both players took what is likely a discount in exchange for guaranteed, long-term money. One of the appealing things of both of these arms was that they were signed at discounted rates that were locked in. If Shields was making $15-18M a year then it’s very likely that he doesn’t return Myers in that trade.

    This could be setting up for what will surely be the Yankees spending bonanza following the 2013 season. If that’s the case then it wouldn’t have cost the Rangers anything as they still had him under contract for the next two years, but it may have drastically increased the trade value of Andrus, particularly if he does evolve into a better hitter. It’s a shrewd move whether he plays here or they can turn him into something else down the line.

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    • Sandy Kazmir says:

      Something else that’s rather interesting. Through his age 24 season Derek Jeter compiled 12.1 WAR before going off for his first 6+ WAR season in the year he turned 25. Thus far Andrus has compiled 13.1 WAR through his age 24 season and will turn 25 in August. The skillsets are different, but both came up young and learned on the job utilizing a contact-driven approach. If you’re going to predict a breakout then this is probably the year to do it for Andrus.

      Branch Rickey famously stated that it’s better to trade a guy a year early than a year late, well it shouldn’t be a stretch to think the inverse with younger players. Better to make the extension a year early than a year late, because if he adds a 105-110 wRC+ bat to the rest of his profile then you’re talking about a real monster. One that has already shown his abilities at the Major League level unlike Profar. A bird in hand is better than two in the bush, but it’s far better to drop a cage on that particular shelter to lock up both.

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      • bobbob says:

        Banned from SBN for life, bitch.

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        Firstly, the Yanks spending bonanza won’t be until after 2014.

        Second of all, your numbers are off. Jeter had 6.2 fWAR in his age 24 season and was already hitting an above average hitter with 10 homers a year at age 22. He went off in his age 25 season to the tune of 7.4 WAR with a 157 wRC+, but his breakthrough was the 129 wRC+ at age 24.

        Also, Elvis has just 1 more WAR over his first 4 years in the league than Jeter had in his first 3 years. I don’t think they’re really comparable because Jeter walks more and has so much more power.

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    • Andy says:

      I’d rather they allow Cruz to walk, extend Murphy a couple years, and put Ian in RF. Assuming no trades for Stanton or someone else ridiculously unlikely, of course.

      But Ian could have Zobrist-like value, though I don’t see him returning to SS as long as Elvis and Profar are both on the team.

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  17. phoenix2042 says:

    it has been confirmed that it is 8/120 starting AFTER the two years he has left. so it’s in effect, 10/131.275. I thought just 8/120 was a little high, but the actual is a big overpay. I don’t have high hopes for Andrus at 35…

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    • Frank's Wild Years says:

      Let’s assume that given current salary inflation continues. At an extremly conservative 5.5million/WAR he would need to produce 23.8WAR to make this a break even contract, between 2003-12 there are 8S who did that. 3 however in the top ten(Tulo, Guillen and Hardy) had less than 4000PA. If you look at JJ Hardy who has accumulated 95wRC+ and 21.1 WAR in 24yo, Furcal 93wRC+-.24yo, Tejada 83wRC+->24yo) then this becomes one of the biggest bargains ever.

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      • Cguudgyrdycjvhkj says:

        I don’t think teams pay for WAR they pay a market price determined by whothehellknows. So Andrus’s extension is an overpay or under pay solely on the basis of what he would have cost in two years when enjoys free agency, which is an unknowable counter factual.

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        • djw says:

          I don’t think teams pay for WAR they pay a market price

          I don’t understand the distinction you’re making. There’s a market for good players. WAR measures how good you are. The market may occasionally be glutted or scarce for particular kinds of players, but overall, the “market” price for FA is also reasonably characterized as paying for WAR.

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        • YanksFanInBeantown says:

          @djw

          He’s saying that the components that make Andrus good by WAR aren’t what gets you paid on the open market, so even paying him a fair salary in terms of WAR might be an overpay in terms of how much they could be paying him.

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      • phoenix2042 says:

        They may break even if everything goes right, but I don’t think that anyone in their right mind would call this “one of the biggest bargains ever.”

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        • Ned Coletti says:

          if he ends up worth 40-50WAR over that ten years(unlikely but given his proximity in the numbers to guys who did, and WAR goes to 6.5mil/WAR then this deal is essentially half price.

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      • Frank's Wild Years says:

        Sorry that should have included Rollins, Tejada and Furcal all in the sub 90wRC+ range under the age of 25

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    • TKDC says:

      Um, I don’t understand how this is worse than your previous thought? 10/131 is like 8/120, but with an extra 2/11 on the end. If Andrus is even a capable starting short stop (not a massive stretch), then getting 2 extra years for $11 million is a big plus.

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    • Andy says:

      He has an opt-out after 4 years. Think of this as $60m/4 yrs, with an option for 4 more years.

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  18. Name* says:

    This contract is a complete disaster. It’s 8 years in addition to the remaining 2 years. Also there’s reportedly an opt out provision. So if the deal does miraculously start to favor the Rangers you can bet Boras will exercise the opt-out.

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    • Baltar says:

      I thought it was a bad, but not terrible, signing for the Rangers before reading about the opt-out in your comment. Now it is a terrible, even inexplicable, deal.
      I’m glad it’s happening to the Rangers and not a team I like.
      As an aside, why does Dave Cameron now favor every long-term extension?

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  19. Sandy Kazmir says:

    I’m not sure I understand the backlash here. Dave is right on point here. If you don’t want to take into account $/WAR inflation then that’s your issue. If you think a win is going to cost around $5.5M in 2015 then here is the league $/WAR over the life of this contract at a conservative 5% inflation:

    2015 $5,500,000
    2016 $5,775,000
    2017 $6,063,750
    2018 $6,366,938
    2019 $6,685,284
    2020 $7,019,549
    2021 $7,370,526
    2022 $7,739,052

    Andrus only needs to be worth around 21 WAR over these eight years for this contract to be worth it. Your first step with these sorts of things should be to adjust for inflation and find out what the WAR breakeven is. Then ascertain whether that seems reasonable.

    The deals that get done in the real world are the ones that are fair to both sides. The reason that Longoria-esque deals stand out so much is because they don’t come around all that often. This seems like both sides have assumed some risk, but not all that much, and at the end of the day it’s just money. Meanwhile, the team locks up a real talent that they can either ride or trade for a slew down the line. Good job, Daniels.

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    • Frank says:

      So you’re telling me that 21 wins for your age 28-35 seasons are now worth 120 mil? I find that depressing…

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      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        That’s actually kind of funny you mention it. Check out this leaderboard of all SS from ages 28-35: http://goo.gl/1QpmD

        The guy that he has replaced, Michael Young, was worth 20.1 WAR over his age 28 – 35 seasons and Young was on a 5/80, or 16M AAV, deal. Young made more money before even adjusting for inflation than Andrus who’s set to make $15M a year over his contract. The dollars seem like a bigger figure because there’s so many years attached, but even if he ages like Orlando Cabrera or Omar Vizquel or even Rich Aurilia, similar defense-first SS then this deal will be worth the money.

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      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        That’s actually kind of funny you mention it. Check out this leaderboard of all SS from ages 28-35: http://goo.gl/1QpmD

        The guy that he has replaced, Michael Young, was worth 20.1 WAR over his age 28 – 35 seasons and Young was on a 5/80, or 16M AAV, deal. Young made more money before even adjusting for inflation than Andrus who’s set to make $15M a year over his contract. The dollars seem like a bigger figure because there’s so many years attached, but even if he ages like Orlando Cabrera or Omar Vizquel or even Rich Aurilia, similar defense-first SS then this deal will be worth the money.

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    • TKDC says:

      How is 5% conservative? Does everyone just believe that baseball inflation will continue to outpace actual inflation indefinitely? Conservative inflation would be in line with actual inflation projections.

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      • akalhar says:

        Two things:
        1) There is a lot of criticism regarding the CPI or “actual inflation.” Many people feel it isn’t accurate.

        2) Huge revenues are pouring in from new broadcast deals, which also influences baseball salary inflation.

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        • TKDC says:

          I’m not going to touch #1, but I’d wonder how much #2 has already happened. I mean, the teams know the money is coming and these deals are for when the money will be there. There is also the little fact that contracts have exploded in the past couple years, and if not because of all the new TV money, then why?

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        • YanksFanInBeantown says:

          The Rays still don’t have that TV money though. (Although maybe the Longoria signing means that they do)

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  20. jcxy says:

    Very interesting take on getting certainly no worse than “decent” value for Andrus. However, I wish you had explored further the pertinent roster construction issue here. Extracting the most value from Andrus might, as some have expressed, necessitate losing value in other places (Profar, Olt, Kinsler, etc). To me that’s the (unanswered) question: is that exchange worth it?

    Having said that, none of us have enough info to answer that and…given what Daniels has done, perhaps he earns some wiggle room from us?

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  21. semperty says:

    you guys have basically covered every extension but the Wainwright deal…? really?

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  22. Economics Professor says:

    A lot of people here are conflating the idea of a players value (according to WAR) and his salary cost. It’s not a matter of a $/WAR calculation to see if this was a good idea by the Rangers, you need to see what the market would pay for these services to see if the Rangers over/underpaid.

    You can’t just look at $/WAR and say the market is the same for a player regardless of how he gets that WAR. Players that derive a lot of value from base-running and defense have not been paid nearly as much as players deriving similar value from hitting. In light of this, I think the Rangers did overpay, and by a fair bit too. I very, very much doubt he would have gotten close to this offer when hitting FA in 2 years, so the Rangers could have simply given it to him then (or a lesser offer) and prevented taking the risk that he falls off a cliff in 2013 or 2014.

    Long story short: Value does not strictly determine price. I think Rangers misread the market and paid more than they needed to.

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    • Baltar says:

      You could also say that WAR is less relevant here than WAP (wins above Profar) or WAK (wins above Kinsler). Context matters.

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    • Sandy Kazmir says:

      Good points, but while you mention the risk of him falling off a cliff you have not taken into account the value of him becoming an even better player. It’s possible he becomes a league average or better hitter which considerably raises the value of the player. Properly account for all the risk involved and this becomes a seemingly fair deal for both sides.

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      • Economics Professor says:

        You’re right.

        I think the chances of Andrus, or really any player, becoming ineffective (for whatever reason) are higher than Andrus really breaking out and potentially costing much more. That said, the chances he starts to really rake are not negligible, especially at his age.

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  23. hartmtown says:

    As a Cubs fan, I’m wondering what this deal says – if anything – about the Castro extension last summer. Castro and Andrus aren’t the same player but there’s a vast difference in the amounts of money being spent.

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  24. john says:

    you know rosenthal’s tweet was an april fool’s joke right?

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  25. Kogoruhn says:

    The newly reported opt-out clause that is being reported seems to remove the upside for the Rangers in this deal.

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    • Kogoruhn says:

      Wow I shouldn’t type while tired. Should be “The opt-out clause that is being reported seems to remove the upside for the Rangers in this deal.

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      • Timb says:

        I’m not a fan of these opt-out clauses. I feel like these contracts are moving players to have all the leverage and contracts are just going to get more outrageous as we keep going down this path.

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    • TKDC says:

      I don’t think it really removes the upside. What are the chances that the Rangers are really going to want Andrus age 30-33 for $60 million? Nobody gave newly 30-year old Michael Bourn $60 million dollars, and we was coming off a great year and is a similar player to Andrus.

      If Andrus does opt out, it likely means he has vastly improved his offense and the first 4 years of the deal were a huge win for the Rangers. Of course, you can color me surprised if that actually happens.

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  26. BaseballFan says:

    What’s to say that they still won’t move Andrus at some point? I think they’ll see what they have in Profar, and if he is successful, then they could always trade Andrus. Plenty of teams would take on this contract, and perhaps the Yankees would be a fit, if the Rangers actually want Profar to take over at SS eventually.

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    • Jake says:

      Andrus isn’t even locked into SS for the remainder of this contract. If they move Kinsler to 1B or LF, then why not shift Andrus over and let the younger, more athletic Profar handle SS. Maybe all this doesn’t happen until spring 2014, but that could at least be the long term plan in Texas.

      As for 2013, the Rangers will most likely have one player end up on the DL and be able to shuffle Kinsler, Moreland, Berkman, Murphy around until there is room for the midseason call up of Profar.

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      • Sparkles Peterson says:

        Pretty sure Andrus is the more “athletic” of the two players. He’s certainly faster and more agile, and if Profar has an edge with the arm it’s not a great one. While Profar isn’t considered a questionable defensive shortstop, I don’t think anyone really expects him to be as good as Andrus.

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  27. Clint says:

    If you look at Andrus’s 4 seasons in the majors and compare him against other shortstops, he is #6 in total WAR. In addition, every other player in the top 10 is much older than Andrus (24) – they range from 28-32 (with Jeter as an outlier). The performers ahead of Andrus (#1-#5) all have lucrative contracts ($17.2M average annual value) in addition to being older, and the performers behind him (#7-#10) are older and worse than Andrus.

    So even if you don’t think Andrus’s age (26 when the extension would start + whatever offensive progress he makes in ’13-’14) is an advantage, $15M AAV is still a very reasonable deal for his services. If you do consider his age an advantage, $15M AAV is a fantastic deal for the Rangers.

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  28. The true opportunity cost of this deal is much more than $120 million. It is also the foregone value of Profar as a shortstop and Kinsler as a second baseman, once they’re both moved down the defensive spectrum.

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    • Clint says:

      Yes, it’s a shame that Profar, Kinsler, and Andrus are locked into 10 year deals with full no-trade clauses. I get your point but like I said in my post above, Andrus’s contract is somewhere between fair and a bargain, so it’s not like they are locked into not moving Andrus if they find a buyer.

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  29. Greg Luzinski Fan says:

    Dumbest contract ever. You don’t pay for defense or base running. Those are bush league skills and are a dime a dozen.

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    • Andy says:

      Dumbest post ever. You pay for skills that get you wins. There were 5 SS that were more valuable than Elvis last year, and none of them are available. Who can you get for a dime?

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  30. Anon21 says:

    This deal really strikes me as weird. The MLB.com story says it’s for eight years beyond his current commitment (so, through 2022), but that “both sides” expect him to opt out after 2018. But if he doesn’t, he can keep the 4 years/$15 million on the back end.

    That looks a lot to me like the Rangers agreed to insure Andrus against the risk that he becomes a bad player or gets catastrophically injured between now and 2018. Why would the Rangers want to do that? (Yeah, yeah–because that’s what it took to get the deal done. But it seems like the team is accepting way too much risk at the back end.)

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    • Andy says:

      If there’s no no-trade clause, they can (possibly) ditch him if he becomes a liability. Not that I expect that to happen, I don’t.

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      • Anon21 says:

        If he becomes a liability, presumably other teams won’t want him unless the Rangers retain most of the financial burden.

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  31. Richie says:

    I presume Dave didn’t know about the ‘opt out’ clause prior to writing this? If he did, writing about the deal without mentioning that is like writing about the deal without mentioning that Andrus is a shortstop.

    The ‘opt out’ makes it a terrible deal for the Rangers. They can lose big, but can’t win big.

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    • jim says:

      the news of the opt-out was not announced until earlier today, while the deal was announced last night.

      but yes, the deal is changed now

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  32. SABRphreak says:

    Why in the world would a team include an opt-out? In such a senario, the team accepts all the risk (i.e. they have to pay the full contract if the player gets injured) but get none of the upside (i.e. the player opts out and hits the free agency market if they perform above the contract value). So, the extension is for 4 years at $60MM if he plays well or 8 years at $120MM if he plays poorly or suffers a major injury? Why would a team make that deal? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. Am I missing something? Someone, please explain this to me.

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    • Anon21 says:

      I can see why a team would be willing to include an opt-out. Basically, it’s just additional compensation to the player, structured in a slightly different way. Hell, in certain contract scenarios it might be helpful to the team for getting in under the luxury tax threshold. (Or is that calculated by averaging the salary over the course of the contract? If so, strike that last thought.)

      What I can’t understand is why the Rangers would include a sixty million dollar opt-out. Unless they think that Andrus is actually going to be worth $120 million or more over the first four years that this contract covers. If that’s the case, news flash: he won’t be.

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  33. Ruki Motomiya says:

    I like the deal, but the opt-out makes it a lot worse.

    Too many people are assuming that Profar is a sure thing and are talking about replacing a player who made 3.9 WAR in 2012 (4.1 WAR in 2011) and another who made 2.9 WAR last year and has shown much more upside. Profar is 20 years old and has not shown he will be an all star at the top level. I see no issue with keeping Profar in the minors this year and even next year if your infield is already making large amounts of WAR. Especially since, if I am reading Profar’s Fangraphs page right, he has never played above Triple-A. Put him in Triple A-, see how he does and call him up if you get an injury, while keeping your 3-4+ WAR players for a while.

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  34. SABRphreak says:

    Anon21 – My understanding is that the contract is not front loaded but the same annual value throughout. (Regardless, for luxury tax purposes, they average out the value of the contract over the entire guaranteed term to get the AAV for luxury tax purposes…which, as you said, could indeed help in certain circumstances if that’s what they did.)

    Ruki Motomiya – Profar played in the majors briefly already but I think he jumped over AAA. I fully agree that at least half a season (if not a full one) in AAA will do him some good and help refine his offensive skills. I prefer the Tampa Bay approach: make a player earn their promotion through play at the AAA level to show they are ready to excel (rather than tread water) at the MLB level (thus having control of more of the player’s prime years rather than using up some of the control on developmental time).

    Does anyone have a good answer for my question? Maybe Jon Daniels got the final 6 years full insured with a reasonable premium so if Andrus is injured and doesn’t opt out for that reason, then the team will be reimbursed. The problem is that those policies usually don’t help for cronic injuries that forces a player to miss time each year. They generally only pay out if the player misses the entire year.

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    • Ruki Motomiya says:

      Profar did play in the majors, but it was only 9 games and 17 PAs, so you can’t really get much useful information from it.

      I’d say keep Profar in the minors this year to see how he does against Triple-A, given how wide a difference between Double-A and MLB is. For all we know, Profar will struggle in Triple-A and look like he needs more polishing. See how much value Kinsler/Andrus put up. If they did good, put him off for another year or trade Kinsler when his value his high.

      Personally, I like keeping Kinsler for two years (give or take) and trading him off, assuming that he doesn’t crash or burn or something. You can still bring Profar up those years (he has two options left, yes?) for injuries/September, extract a lot of value from Andrus/Kinsler and keep your uber-prospect.

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  35. Hank says:

    I think folks are evaluating deals in a vacuum too much these days.

    1) This is an extension 2 years prior to FA… there should be some discount on it to begin with.
    2) Matt Swartz did an article on this a while ago… SS is the most underpaid position in baseball on the FA market so I don’t think it is as simple as 4.5mil/WAR * whatever inflation factor
    3) Andrus’ skillset (baserunning and defense) is also undervalued in the market
    4) The opt out change things (I assume most of the comments were made before this was known)
    5) Andrus’ replacement is not a O WAR player

    People seem to be looking at this like a FA deal and doing a standard WAR/$ stackup… this should have had all types of discounts given it was 2 years pre-FA, skillset, position on the diamond.

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  36. shk87 says:

    saving profar for some guy named stanton.

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