Estimating Jason Heyward’s Next Contract

In yesterday’s write-up of the Jason Heyward/Shelby Miller trade, I wrote this:

Because of how quickly he got to the big leagues, Heyward is in line to hit free agency after his age-25 season, and he’s going to have roughly +25 career WAR when he reaches the open market. Barring a disastrous 2015 season, he’s going to get paid, and you can be certain that his agents will be pointing to the 13 year, $325 million deal that Giancarlo Stanton has agreed to as the new precedent. Sure, Heyward isn’t going to get 13/$325M, given the massive differences in power, but it seems likely that he’ll demand a deal that starts at 10 years and goes north of $200 million.

Robinson Cano got $240 million as a similarly valuable player entering his age-31 season; Heyward might not have Cano’s offensive track record, but he’s going to be selling his prime years, and the deal won’t extend into the period of his career where you’d expect him to essentially be worthless. If the Cardinals want to lock up Heyward before he gets to free agency, it’s probably going to take something like the contract they refused to give Albert Pujols. Maybe they might be able get him to take a slight pre-free agent discount and get him for 9/$200M or something in that range, but let’s dispel the notion that the Cardinals are going to be able to sign Heyward for anything other than a mountain of cash.

Which generated a lot of responses like this.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 9.59.51 AM

Since I basically just made the claim without any evidence to support it, I figure it’s on me to actually back up my assertion. So, let’s go through and see if we can estimate what Jason Heyward’s market price would be as a free agent next winter.

The primary assertion against that kind of valuation is that teams simply don’t pay for defense the same way they do for offense, and that assertion it’s true. There’s absolutely a premium paid for power hitting in free agency, and Heyward doesn’t have the kind of skillset that other $200 million players have had. If we want to estimate what a good bat/great glove corner outfielder is going to get, we need to look beyond what guys like Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, and Robinson Cano signed for. We need to look at how the market has paid this kind of player before.

Thankfully, Heyward’s skillset isn’t really all that unique. Over the last decade, we’ve seen a pretty decent number of players who achieved their value through similar methods. For instance, here are Heyward’s career numbers in a table with the the performances of four other similar outfielders, up to the point at which they reached free agency.

Name PA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR OFF/600 DEF/600 WAR/600
Jason Heyward 2,819 117 14 70 46 21 15 10 4.6
Carl Crawford 3,784 116 48 120 37 29 19 6 4.5
Carlos Beltran 3,911 112 41 100 56 29 15 9 4.4
Ichiro Suzuki 5,180 117 39 149 54 37 17 6 4.3
Jacoby Ellsbury 3,839 109 44 83 50 27 13 8 4.3

There are some differences, certainly, but overall, they all established themselves as something like +4.5 WAR/600 PA players in their pre-free agent careers, and they all did it with positive contributions from their bat, their feet, and their gloves. If you prefer to look at the more narrow window of a player’s final three years before free agency, Heyward’s 2012-2014 numbers still measure up remarkably well with this group, especially Crawford’s final three years in Tampa.

Name PA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR OFF/600 DEF/600 WAR/600
Jason Heyward 1740 116 10 43 43 15 15 15 5.1
Carl Crawford 1817 118 22 60 33 16 20 11 5.2

Since it’s the closest match, let’s deal with the Crawford comparison for now, and we’ll circle back to the others in a minute. Crawford hit the market after his age-28 season and signed a seven year deal for $142 million, which is in line with what several people in the comments suggested they think Heyward should sign for. Only $142 million in 2010 is not the same thing as $142 million in 2014. If we think Crawford is a good stand-in for Heyward’s market value, then we have to bring Crawford’s value into present day dollars. Actually, we have to bring them into 2015 dollars, since that’s when Heyward is hitting free agency, so Heyward will hit the open market with five years of inflation between his deal and Crawford’s contract with Boston.

Rather than turn this into another post about the different ways of calculating the market price of a win, let’s just take the simple route and look at the total spending differences in MLB payrolls during that time. Crawford’s deal began in 2011, when the total of all 30 MLB payrolls was $2.78 billion. Last year, MLB was at $3.45 billion, and they’re already at $3.1 billion for 2015 without including any of the free agent contracts. 2015 league payrolls are going to end up around $3.7 billion or so, most likely, so the league will have seen roughly 37 percent more money going to players since Crawford’s deal was signed.

If you simply scale Crawford’s annual salary to match current spending levels, his $20 million AAV becomes $25 million to keep pace with inflation. If we assume that he’d be able to command the same contract length, Crawford’s inflation-adjusted price becomes 7/$175M. And Crawford was selling his 29-35 seasons; Heyward is going to be three year’s younger than Crawford was when he hit the open market, and very likely will have little interest in a seven year deal. If we’re going to use Crawford as an example of Heyward’s market value, then we essentially have to admit that Crawford is evidence that Heyward is likely to land a deal in excess of $200 million as a free agent, even if he just takes the same inflation-adjusted AAV and adds an extra year.

But, of course, a lot of people hated the Crawford contract at the time, and it’s just one deal. So, let’s look at the others.

Carlos Beltran got $17M per year when total league payroll was $2.18 billion. If we translate that into a $3.7 billion spending economy, Beltran’s $17M per year turns into $28.8 million per year; Beltran also got seven years, starting with his age-28 season.

Ichiro Suzuki got $18M per year when league payroll was $2.69 billion. In a $3.7 billion economy, that turns into $24.8M per year. Ichiro only got five years, but the contract began when he was 34, and his three most recent seasons averaged about +4 WAR per 600 PA, about a win less than Heyward’s three most recent seasons. Ichiro was a decade older and well into his decline phase, and he still got the equivalent of $25 million per year.

Ellsbury’s the easiest one of all, given that he just signed last year, so we don’t have to inflate his salary all that much. Adjusting upwards slightly, his $22M per season becomes about $23M per year. Ellsbury got seven years starting with his age-30 season.

Four very similar players to Heyward, skills and value wise. The inflation-adjusted salaries put them squarely in the $23 to $28 million per year range. Even if you don’t think Heyward is as good as these guys, you could essentially perform the same exercise with Vernon Wells or Torii Hunter, and you’ll get the same results, essentially. $18-$20 million per year, even four or five years ago, is $25+ million per year in today’s dollars.

And then there’s the age factor. Assuming Heyward’s market value in 12 months is roughly the same as it is now, he’s not settling for a seven year deal. Heyward’s going to be looking for 8-10 years at around that $25 million per year AAV, and that’s assuming he doesn’t have a breakout season. If he does, and he hits for power again, the price might get near $30 million per year, or push to 12 years if teams would rather inflate the contract length rather than the annual salary.

His 2015 performance will go a long way to determining which side of the $200 million coin Heyward falls on. If he struggles with injuries or continues to be a slightly above average hitter, maybe he’ll settle for $175-$200 million, basically just taking the Ellsbury contract and adding a year or two in length. If he hits as he has through his career, I’m guessing $225-$250 million is probably more likely, as he’ll aim for something like the Robinson Cano contract. If he has a breakout year and becomes the hitter that people have been projecting, then $300 million isn’t out of the question. At that point, he’s a a younger version of what Beltran was, but still heading into his prime years, and would easily be the most coveted free agent in years.

This is why the Braves traded him. It’s why I doubt the Cardinals will get him to sign a long-term deal any time soon. They have a history of getting players to take below-market deals to stay in St. Louis, but they’re not going to get Heyward to take $150 million for the peak of his career. He’s bet on himself to this point, and a year from free agency, there’s no reason to sell himself short now. The market doesn’t pay for defense quite the same way it pays for power, but it has paid plenty of similar players enough money that $200 million for Heyward is probably the starting point in negotiations.

Are the Cardinals prepared to go there? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. I don’t think they gave up four years of Shelby Miller with no plan to even try and keep Heyward, and they know he’s looking at a huge contract in a year if they don’t get him signed. The Cardinals have proven they’ll put their money where UZR’s mouth is, and it paid off nicely with their faith in Jhonny Peralta. They’ll probably face a similar reaction if they give Heyward $200+ million to keep him in St. Louis, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be a similarly good idea.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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JP
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JP
1 year 6 months ago

Aren’t the players losing revenue share to the owners? If so, inflating based on revenues would overstate things.

Yirmiyahu
Member
1 year 6 months ago

This article doesn’t mention revenues. Cameron was citing player payroll in coming up with inflation estimates.

Evan
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Evan
1 year 6 months ago

He’s inflating it based on the total league wide payroll not the league wide revenue

JP
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JP
1 year 6 months ago

oops, bolded even. My bad.

Anthony
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Anthony
1 year 6 months ago

He’s inflating based on total player salaries, not revenues.

gmbristol
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gmbristol
1 year 6 months ago

Chase Headley will be the litmus test to see if an OBP/Defense skill set will be paid like a “power bat” still does. Heyman’s prediction column was crazy low at something like 3/40. Bowden was even lower on him at 3/27.

Yirmiyahu
Member
1 year 6 months ago

Speaking as a Red Sox fan: sign me up for that price.

phoenix2042
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phoenix2042
1 year 6 months ago

Speaking as a fan of any team in the game, that price would be fantastic.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

You could be a team with his position already filled and you’d still want to sign him at that price and just figure it out later.

Tom Cranker
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Tom Cranker
1 year 6 months ago

Why is Headley the litmus test? How but Russell Martin? Most of his value is tied up in OBP and defense.

A
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A
1 year 6 months ago

The catcher position is usually judged by a lot more things than just hitting and defense. There are ‘intangibles’ with handling pitchers and the strike zone, then there is framing, game-calling, etc. Plus Martin actually had a decent bit of power.

Gary
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Gary
1 year 6 months ago

Russell Martin has averaged more than 15 homers over the last three seasons. The league leader last year had 25. He has a lot more tools than OBP and defense.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

So, you don’t accept Cameron’s premise – that free agents Crawford, Ellsbury, Beltran, et al, with skills & talents not just concentrated in slugging but distributed over several “Tools”, are now, and have been for several years, attracting multiyear deals based on a broader &/or more pervasive acceptance of some version of WAR by MLB front officers & owners?

See, how I took this piece is as rebuttal to his piece a year or so back on the Giants signing Pence for 6 years. That is, Postseason Dave 2014 has figured out where Postseason Dave 2013 went off the rails.

Which, in turn, would suggest that whatever Headley ends up with will simply constitute an ‘event’ among several which are increasing in number, i.e. not any “litmus test”. These are, after all, not chemicals being pipetted into tubes, or components soldered into machines, but rather animals being introduced into herds.

Paul Wilson
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Paul Wilson
1 year 6 months ago

????

Avattoir has gone off the rails again…

Rob
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Rob
1 year 6 months ago

No way this is correct. Bowden actually has a good track record on these things, but he’s way off on this.

Spit Ball
Member
Spit Ball
1 year 6 months ago

If Billy Butler get 3/30…….well Headley should top that easily.

Yirmiyahu
Member
1 year 6 months ago

I’m following you on the comparison to other contracts. But I’m failing to see the explanation for why he’d garner 10 years rather than the 7 years the comparable players got.

Evan
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Evan
1 year 6 months ago

Because he’s younger so more of the contract years would be expected to be “prime years”

Dungeon Master Dayton Moore
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Dungeon Master Dayton Moore
1 year 6 months ago

Because he’s 25

sam
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sam
1 year 6 months ago

He’s 25 now. He’ll be 26 when the new contract kicks in. Its not a major difference compared to the other guys listed. I think Beltran was the youngest of them at signing at the tender age of 28.

Justin
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Justin
1 year 6 months ago

Two years is a major difference. On a similar 10-year contract, the team signing the younger player is essentially paying for the age 26 and 27 seasons instead of the age 36 and 37 seasons. Assuming a standard decline from a 4-5 WAR player, we’re probably talking about something like a 6+ WAR difference between what you should expect from those players over the life of the contract.

Additionally, when you’re signing the 28 year old, odds are that you’re already seeing him at his peak. With a guy that’s 26, I would assume that there’s still room to grow. So maybe by the time the 26 year old is 28 he’s established himself at an even higher level from which to decline.

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way, but that’s the theory behind it.

Jeff in T.O.
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Jeff in T.O.
1 year 6 months ago

Age when they signed the contract?

phoenix2042
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phoenix2042
1 year 6 months ago

He is about 3-5 years younger than those players on average, so it makes sense that a comparable contract would either be 3-5 years longer or have a much higher AAV based on the relative lack of decline years.

attgig
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attgig
1 year 6 months ago

another thing about defense being undervalued… I think defense is even more undervalued when you’re not playing up the middle. If Heyward is selling himself as a premium defensive RF option with a plus bat, i don’t think it’s as sexy as a premium defensive CF’er with a plus bat.

RF = power bat, and a good enough arm.
CF = excellent defender with good bat.

of the names you listed, only Carl Crawford wasn’t a CF’er. (even ichiro was still in center when he signed the contract i believe).

I just think that the view of what a RF’er brings to the table is going to be reflected in the market, and 200 is just too much.

Matt
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Matt
1 year 6 months ago

Ichiro was never primarily a CF, except for one season in 2007. But yeah I agree with your point regarding the perception of defensive value for an up the middle position. Although I will say that I think defensive metrics do overstate the value of corner OF relative to CF (I don’t think Heyward’s defensive WAR would be as high if he played every game in CF in 2014). So maybe that perceived difference in valuations is legitimate?

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

I’ve said this before, but I feel that we’re entering an era where teams are much more willing to prioritize defense in the corners, and therefore the positional adjustment on LF/RF may be too harsh. Basically, the bar to be an “average” defender in LF/RF has gone up, meaning better defenders get less credit for being better than average, but the positional adjustment has not changed to reflect that there is a higher bar.

EricR
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1 year 6 months ago

Ichiro played CF, but really only about 10% of the time. I’ve never thought of him as a CF, though he obviously had the skill to play there.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
1 year 6 months ago

I tend to agree with you. He’s a RF who just slugged .384 with 11 HR. His OBP was a healthy (but not spectacular) .351. Yet he somehow put up 5 WAR. Is the perception around baseball that he was really a 5-WAR player last year, or are most GMs skeptical about that? If we found out that there was a glitch in his player page, and his numbers were exactly the same across the board but he was really worth 3 WAR instead of 5 WAR, would anybody be truly surprised?

I thought the perception of Heyward is that he’s capable of breaking through as a hitter, but he hasn’t put it all together yet. To this point, it seems like he’s almost a disappointment with the bat. Despite his WAR, it just doesn’t seem right that he’s a $200MM player. Although I do expect a huge year out of him in 2015, which would change the perception of his hitting.

Then again, offense has declined so much over the last few years that a lot of numbers don’t seem right anymore. What seems like pedestrian numbers (based on the offensive environment of just a few years ago), they’re now above average.

Matt
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Matt
1 year 6 months ago

Agreed, and I think this ‘glitch’ comes in the form of reevaluating how we calculate OF defensive WAR. Instead of treating LF/CF/RF as three different positions with three different baselines that we consider ‘league average’, we should probably treat them as one – since they all basically require the same set of skills and players can switch from one to another without too much trouble. It’s much different then say, moving from SS to 3b, where the skills may or may not translate while moving down the defensive spectrum.

Costanza
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Costanza
1 year 6 months ago

I disagree — there is a clear delineation between CF and COF. I could support combining RF/LF, but CF is clearly different. Outside of a few exceptions, we don’t see players moving to CF from COF.

Matt
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Matt
1 year 6 months ago

Sure we do – many players have moved from CF to COF when they lose a step and no longer have the range for CF (Hunter, Beltran, soon to be Kemp).

Tramps Like Us
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

to CF, from COF. The examples you cited were for the opposite (from CF to COF. Puig comes to mind but it sounds as though it was temporary, LA wants him in RF.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

I think this is an interesting suggestion. Basically, if you assume that all balls to the outfield can be classified by how difficult they are to field regardless of to which field they are hit, this might work. Then, you could judge any outfielder at any position just by how well they did on balls at each difficulty. It wouldn’t even matter if the center fielder got more “difficult” balls, as he would naturally get credit for fielding a higher percentage and quantity of difficult balls compared to the corner outfielders.

Part of the reason to judge positions independently and have a positional adjustment is to account for cases where we cannot inherently assess the relative difficulty of making a particular kind of play in a way that is comparable to another position. So, let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s say that fielding fly balls in all three outfield spots is essentially equally difficult, but let’s also say that fielding line drives and throwing a runner out at first was a huge part of playing right field, and that the CF and LF never had to do it. Maybe 1B is more than 90 feet away, so the RF has a chance to throw out a runner a large portion of the time. Now, there is a whole class of play that a RF has to do that CF and LF does not.

How do we assess the difficulty of this play compared to what CF and LF have to do? We can’t really, so instead we use a proxy: how hard is it to find players who can do it? Presumably it is some subset of the players capable of playing outfield. The exact scarcity can also be measured by a proxy: how hard is it to find hitting at that position? If the average RF’er was a terrible hitter, it suggests that being able to play RF is such a rare and valuable skill that we need to measure it by its own bar and add a positional adjustment to account for the fact that the average RF has a more rare and valuable skill than a LF/CF.

So, basically, if we can identify a skill that a CF has to have that makes it difficult or impossible to compare it directly to LF/RF, then we cannot combine them and eliminate the positional adjustment. If there isn’t one, we can do what you suggest.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

“I just think that the view of what a RF’er brings to the table is going to be reflected in the market, and 200 is just too much.”

So, you’re arguing in favor of Gabby’s genuine frontier gibberish.

Whose “view” is “the”?
“just too much” based on what rationale or theory or both?

In order for WAR to be treated in the case of Heyward like power in the case of an older FA whose prime value lies in SLG PCT, it’s not necessary for some vast amporphous “market” to move in that direction. All that’s needed is a monopsony [as distinct from a monopoly], such as MLB is, to have more than one active player in it who competes with the other active players in it on a certain set of assumptions and has concrete success.

IOW if the Braves, Nationals, Cardinals, Pirates & Giants all choose to compete on a certain set of assumptions common to that group, and go on to dominate the 4, now 5, chairs available for the postseason pachinko, that’s a MARKET, regardless of whether the other 10 members of their ‘league’ or other 25 members of the monopsony conduct themselves at all similarly.

Spit Ball
Member
Spit Ball
1 year 6 months ago

Be careful with old stereotypes. Victorino’s 2013 and Heyward’s success are changing perceptions. Rob Deer hit with power and had strong right field arm………….

nik
Guest
nik
1 year 6 months ago

Sure teams will give a guy who peaked at 20 a 12 year deal. This article is nuts.

Dan Ugglas Forearm
Member
Dan Ugglas Forearm
1 year 6 months ago

You’re going to be in for a lot of head scratching next offseason if you think this article is nuts.

srpst23
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srpst23
1 year 6 months ago

Thank you for your well though out and researched comment on why this article is nuts. I also don’t recall anywhere in the article that states a 12 year contract is likely, only that it is possible because of JH’s age.

KCDaveInLA
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KCDaveInLA
1 year 6 months ago

If he signs this contract when he’s 25 and even if his defensive ability settles down into perhaps Torii Hunter-in-his-30s level, and he hits enough to justify his daily presence – all reasonable goals – then $20M AAV might look like a bargain, even into the later years of the contact, given inflation rates. Then again, as Dave C. said, this is a starting point.

I shudder to think how much tickets, parking, and concessions are going to be in 10 years.

Dan Ugglas Forearm
Member
Dan Ugglas Forearm
1 year 6 months ago

But there will be more total dollars. Yayyyyyy inflation.

Thomas Grantham
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Thomas Grantham
1 year 6 months ago

MLB inflation is far outpacing the national inflation rate…the relative cost of tickets and concessions will be going up make no mistake about it.

Carson's Johnny
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Carson's Johnny
1 year 6 months ago

US Inflation has been really low for over a decade, and under 3.5% on average stretching back to the early 80s.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

But it’s not uniform.

The rate of inflation for the sorts of homes Wall Street nouveau riche billionaires’ trophy spouses want maybe staggering (as the NYTimes keeps pointing out every weekend in its feature pieces on the plight of the top .001%), and the expenses associated with being an active season tickete holder to the regularly scheduled exhibtions of one’s most contiguous urban sportsball franchise increase at a rate that outstrips inequality of economic or educational opportunity, yet have little to no effect in moving overall rates, whether of inflation or deflation.

IOW MLB Inflation is not the same as Overall Inflation, and the connections between the two are tenuous at most.

RichW
Member
RichW
1 year 6 months ago

Ticket prices rarely reflect salary inflation which is driven by TV money. I can’t remember what tickets cost me 10-15 years ago but I didn’t go to as many games back then. I go to many more games now and in the last 4-5 seasons. That suggests ticket prices are not seriously inflated, in a market where I can see every game on TV.

Spa City
Member
Member
Spa City
1 year 6 months ago

Ticket/parking/concessions are not really tied to player salaries. If teams thought people would pay more for tickets (etc) right now, then the prices would be higher. Teams will charge whatever the market will pay, regardless of the teams’ costs.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
1 year 6 months ago

Ticket prices will only rise as high as people will pay them. How do people not get this? Like the idiots who predict some McDonalds 100 dollar meal if they pay their workers a livable wage. If price goes up, unless you are at an inelastic price point, your quantity sold will go down.

WAR am I?
Guest
WAR am I?
1 year 6 months ago

I think this puts things into perspective and was needed. Thanks.

I said elsewhere that their seemed to be a serious disconnect between the Braves FO and Heyward’s peeps as to how to define “reasonable contract” in the context of Heyward’s value.

If you put Hart and Heyward in a room and asked them to define “reasonable contract” as a specific number of years and dollars, and then write it on a piece of paper, my guess is that Hart would hand me a piece of paper with 5/75 (BJ money) written on it, and Heyward would hand me a piece of paper with 10/250 written on it.

The Braves should (and may) value him higher than that, but if Heyward is thinking along the lines of what you are thinking (and there’s no reason he shouldn’t), then I think Hart and friends made the right move by getting more value for him now than a comp pick after next season, because no matter how much he is actually worth, that $200+ million is not a responsible use of funds within the context of the Braves current budget.

The question now is whether or not they got enough in the trade. People are all over the place on that one because people seem to both undervalue Heyward and undervalue the limitation one year of control puts on his value.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
1 year 6 months ago

I don’t quite understand what you’re saying when you say Hart would think an obviously inadequate 5/$75m is a “reasonable contract” for Heyward. But I do agree that Hart probably realized what Heyward was looking for and decided it was a price the Braves could not pay, even though Heyward will probably be worth it.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 6 months ago

I think there’s another bet that Hart is making here too: that the Cardinals won’t be able to extend Heyward. If it works out that way, then the Braves have the same shot as everyonoe else to sign him as a free agent. That may be the FO’s thinking: if they are going to have to pay FA market rates for a player, then they may as well do it in the actual FA market. Plus get something in return for that final control year.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
1 year 6 months ago

That may have been one consideration, but realistically the Braves haven’t competed for elite free agents since the mid 1990s. I think their chances of landing Heyward are slim to none.

Dan Ugglas Forearm
Member
Dan Ugglas Forearm
1 year 6 months ago

Apparently Heyward was extended an offer that was short of Freddie Freeman’s $135MM.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 6 months ago

Which in my opinion is ridiculous. The Braves brass should have made Heyward an offer comparable to Freeman’s, just on the basis that plus defensive outfielders are scarcer than offense-only first-basemen.

Oh well, now they’ve freed up more money to sign Chris Johnson types (SMH)

Jerry
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Jerry
1 year 6 months ago

“on the basis that plus defensive outfielders are scarcer than offense-only first-basemen”

I don’t think that’s true at all. Look at the 1B offensive leader boards. That position isn’t deep right now.

Finding someone who can play good defense and not be a liability as a hitter isn’t nearly as difficult.

And that is basically the hole in the logic of this article: teams still overvalue offense as a general rule.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

But by “teams”, you must mean ‘teams other than the Cardinals’, plus the several other teams that end to be among the minority that hogged the postseason playoffs slots over the past 20 years.

Also – from where do you get the basis for judging Freeman to be “offense-only” [or, do you see the POSITION as inherently “offense-only”]?

Jerry
Guest
Jerry
1 year 6 months ago

“But by “teams”, you must mean ‘teams other than the Cardinals’, plus the several other teams that end to be among the minority that hogged the postseason playoffs slots over the past 20 years.”

Yeah, how often do those types of teams shell out $200 mil contracts for those types of players.

The reason why smart teams get guys like Heyward – great defense, solid hitting – is because they have historically been UNDERVALUED. The central argument of this post is that that market inefficiency doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t think teams pay that type of money for a corner outfielder who derives most of his value from defense. That is why most of the ‘comps’ Dave listed aren’t really appropriate. They were far better hitters.

Anon21
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Anon21
1 year 6 months ago

What’s your source?

pitnick
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pitnick
1 year 6 months ago

Can we not call it “BJ money”?

Hugh Grant
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Hugh Grant
1 year 6 months ago

Come on, like that’s not a container right next to the Swear Jar on your countertop?

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

… right next to “AW $”, and “Krazy-Eyes Killer GTETP $”.

Jason
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Jason
1 year 6 months ago

Heyward took $13 million in February to buy out his final two arbitration years. That figure shows that he doesn’t project as a $200 million free agent. Corner outfielders whose value is disproportionately tied to defense don’t get paid that way.

Dan Ugglas Forearm
Member
Dan Ugglas Forearm
1 year 6 months ago

It’s funny because it’s almost as if this article proves that they do.

Jason
Guest
Jason
1 year 6 months ago

I don’t think the players listed are comparable to Heyward. He’s an unusual player whose offense has declined while his defense is viewed as off the charts at a position where defense is less valued. The current contract matters because players who get $200 million contracts aren’t paid $4-5 million in Year 5.

Enemy of the State
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Enemy of the State
1 year 6 months ago

He doesn’t look unusual. The others players listed here look a lot like Heyward but older. And once he’s on the open market its about what a team will pay, not what he got to avoid arbitration when there was one bidder.

Costanza
Guest
Costanza
1 year 6 months ago

Yea, just because their on-field performance is very similar, they play similar positions, are similar ages, and provided similar value… they definitely aren’t comparable!

Seriously, you don’t think Crawford or Ellsbury are similar to Heyward? Who do you think is a comp (and please provide data to establish that comp.)

Jerry
Guest
Jerry
1 year 6 months ago

I agree. The players listed were viewed as very good hitters. Heyward isn’t on that same level. Teams still pay more for offense.

Garrett
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Garrett
1 year 6 months ago

I’m kind of in agreement with Jason.

Not saying that Heyward doesn’t DESERVE $200M … I’m just not prepared to suggest that he will actually get that – or anything close.

My biggest issue with each of the comparables was that they excelled at something more tangible (or more easily understood) than defense. I wouldn’t take issue with a talent evaluator seeing very little difference in defensive value between Heyward and those guys. Yet, each one excelled in other areas (high hit tool, blazing speed, power, etc). Heyward doesn’t fit that model. He’s just a very solid all around player with terrific defense.

Next, Crawford’s deal was panned almost immediately … and Crawford hasn’t done anything to suggest that the critics were wrong. Ellsbury was solid in his debut year but I’d guess that the Yanks would have a hard time finding anyone who would take him off their hands for free. Point is – they may be comparable but a team looking at either Ellsbury or Crawford would be justified in acknowledging that those were bad contracts and they certainly didn’t set a good precedent.

Finally, we don’t know what Heyward’s walk year will look like, but I have to suspect that if he posts another 110 wRC+ season teams will be less than enthused. His offensive contribution continues to decline. Contrast that to Crawford (set career high wRC+ in his walk year and was worth 7.4 WAR), Beltran (had his two best offensive years prior to walking and was worth an average of 6.5 WAR), and even Ellsbury (coming off his 2nd best offensive season). If any of those three had just solid walk years they would not have landed monster deals.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

@Garrett

It seems like most $100M+ deals are panned at the time and throughout, and most don’t end up looking that good, but I don’t really think that the market has accounted for that and adjusted. There is still a winner’s curse. There’s still the fact that star players are extremely scarce. And, there are the marketing and sales benefits that come with signing a star, and with contending, or at least appearing to contend.

Basically, I think there are a lot of reasons that the top players will always appear to be overpaid, so pointing to a perceived consensus that certain players are overpaid is not reason to argue that players of that type will not continue to be overpaid.

JdeyeB
Guest
1 year 1 month ago

Heyward definitely isn’t comparable to what these players were considered. They all had at least one elite offensive skill. All but Crawford had more than one elite offensive skill. Heyward has almost all below average offensive skills. Yes the WARs are comparable but that’s only because his defensive WAR is off the charts. But teams will not pay 200M for that. I have no facts to back this up but I imagine most teams have or can get ahold of an above average defensive corner outfielder for a very cheap amount.

Anon21
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Anon21
1 year 6 months ago

Payment in arb is not the same thing as payment as a free agent. The arbitrators are mostly ignorant of baseball, whereas GMs are not.

Jason
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Jason
1 year 6 months ago

I don’t think the players listed are comparable to Heyward. He’s an unusual player whose offense has declined while his defense is viewed as off the charts at a position where defense is less valued. The current contract matters because players who get $200 million contracts aren’t paid $4-5 million in Year 5.

Bobby Bonilla
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Bobby Bonilla
1 year 6 months ago

Just posting this to see if you respond with the same stupid comment you’ve already posted twice.

Guest_54
Guest
Guest_54
1 year 4 months ago

Problem with your comment is that no arbitrator was involved in Heyward’s final 2 years of arbitration. Those 2 years were negotiated between Heyward’s agent and the team during the same time period as Simmons’, Freeman’s and Kimbrel’s extensions were negotiated.

Brian Petti
Guest
Brian Petti
1 year 6 months ago

“Seriously, you don’t think Crawford or Ellsbury are similar to Heyward? Who do you think is a comp (and please provide data to establish that comp.)”

I honestly think Alex Gordon (lifetime .268/.345/.435/.781) is a perfect comp for Heyward (.262/.351/.429/.781)in all but age. They are both outstanding defenders and plus baserunners. The other comps listed may have had similar WAR, but each (besides Crawford maybe) possessed an extraordinary offensive capability that Heyward doesn’t: (Beltran–power, Ichiro–BA and SB potential, Ellsbury–SB potential). I think it’s safe to say that it was these plus offensive elements that contributed more to their respective contract payouts than did their defensive games. And I think it’s also safe to say in retrospect that Crawford was overpaid relative to his overall value. Therefore, I don’t think any of the listed comps “prove” that defense is valued as highly as offense when it comes to free agent paydays. (Before I get flamed, I’m not suggesting defense pays no role or that is SHOULDN’T be valued equally, only that in practice it has not been.) Given that, back to Gordon. He’s 5 years older than Heyward and signed for $12.5 mill with an equal option for 2016. He’s a bargain at that price, and is on a different earning track than Heyward because he started later and didn’t really breakout until his age 27 season. However, I think Gordon serves as a good base for perceived value of a player with his particular skills (like Heyward, plus plus defense and flawed offensive game with OBP and baserunning led value and occasional power). In this current market, at Heyward’s age, he’s going to sign for much more than 12.5/year. But 20+? I’m not convinced, unless, as the article above states, he breaks out offensively in his walk year. The difference is, the author sees a good offensive year pushing Heyward into the 25/yr range, while I think hes more like a 16-18/yr player who needs a bump to get to 20.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 6 months ago

I appreciate you making the effort to do a thoughtful analysis to support a contrary opinion. I see the two main things with Gordon being the age difference, and the fact that he signed before he was FA eligible (the extension actually bought out all of his arb years, plus two). One other thing: according to Cots, 2016 is actually a player option, and if he has a good season in 2015 he’ll probably decline it.

That will create the interesting situation that Heyward (presuming the Cards don’t succeed in extending him) and Gordon will be in direct competition in the FA market. It’ll be interesting to see what happens then. I still think Heyward has a higher ceiling as an offensive player; Greg Walker messed up nearly all of the Braves hitters last year, and I think Heyward’s mechanics will improve as the Cards coaches work with him. Whereas Gordon is probably at his ceiling now. So we’ll see.

Branch Rickey Ricardo
Guest
Branch Rickey Ricardo
1 year 6 months ago

Fine analysis, Dave. But still I can’t help thinking that Jason Heyward isn’t *truly* comparable to the cited similar quartet.

According to the table, an extraordinary 40% (46 of 114) of Jason’s value comes from his defense, while the other pair of corner outfielders each had roughly 25% of their worth from glovework. For me that’s a rather profound difference.

And then there’s Beltran & Ellsbury, who were both elite defenders in center field — that’s a different animal than Heyward or, say, Alex Gordon, his Junior Circuit doppelganger.

While the “$3.7 billion economy” was cited several times throughout the article, when estimating Heyward’s next contract I don’t think the hypothetical inflation conversion numbers have nearly the utility of more recent contracts…like for instance Stanton’s.

As solid as modern defensive metrics may be, I don’t believe that anyone outside of Jason’s agent and immediate family values him as a ballplayer at *nearly* the same level as Giancarlo. Maybe that’s inaccurate, or even unfair. But I’m guessing that’s the universal perception.

I say St. Louis inks him. If he wants another bite of the free agency apple down the road, Heyward signs for 5 or 6 years at $19M per. If he prefers a decade-or-longer contract, I’ll say 11 or 12 years for $17-18M AAV.

Wayne Campbell
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Wayne Campbell
1 year 6 months ago

‘As solid as modern defensive metrics may be’

What’s that sound that Tim Allen used to make (& probably still does)?

That.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

As Dave says over and over time and time again in his Cistulli talks, the FanGraphs reader consensus consistently undervalues/underestimates what the market pays for top level FAs – such as Jason Heyward.

Jerry
Guest
Jerry
1 year 6 months ago

Overall this is true, but not equally with all types of players. Fangraphs readers will undervalue the price of guys who have gaudy offensive numbers, and overvalue guys who have skill sets that fit within the stats promoted by this website: particularly WAR.

I think that, in this case, Dave is overvaluing Heyward based on his WAR. It takes multiple teams to drive up a players price, and I don’t think most teams will view him as a guy who warrants that type of price.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

SOME teams “still pay more for offense”.

And then those teams go on to lose … again.

Actually, I’m not being fair: teams pay more for stuff they think is necessary AND which they think is in short supply.

For some teams, offense IS in fact, considered in context, necessary for them to go out and get cuz they ain’t got enough – thus, Morse to the Giants last off-season. For other teams, offense IS in their heads something they think of as being in short supply – thus, Cuddyer to the Mets this off-seasons.

Baseball tends towards reality … once you accept the context itself is quite mad.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

So, why is it that offense is necessary for the Giants to get because they ain’t got enough, but not necessary for the Mets to get just because they think of it as being in short supply?

If league offense is down, then a good hitter has more relative value (as long as we’re talking about offense using measurements that are not league-adjusted). If a team has a bad offense, signing a player who hits well but who costs the team in equal share on defense doesn’t really help them: they’ve just shifted their strengths and weaknesses around.

Guest_54
Guest
Guest_54
1 year 4 months ago

I think that, in this case, Dave is overvaluing Heyward based on his WAR. It takes multiple teams to drive up a players price, and I don’t think most teams will view him as a guy who warrants that type of price.

^^^^^
This.

Of course, this is just my opinion, but it seems to me that most teams still don’t see Heyward as “that guy” because his unbelievable defensive abilities account for SO MUCH of his WAR. As one commenter mentioned earlier, the “comparables” Dave used had a much smaller percentage of their WAR value coming from their defensive abilities. They brought other attributes that increased their values and were able to provide said value even if they had a bad defensive stretch. With Heyward, his defense is so much a part of his value that if he slips, his value goes way down. I just don’t see intelligent baseball men and women taking such a gamble and paying Heyward in the stratosphere being discussed. I tend to agree with another commenter that stated Heyward seems to be in the $15-$18MM per year as is and with a great platform year gets into the $20+ per year discussion.

J
Guest
J
1 year 6 months ago

Agreed. Alex Gordon seems like a better comp to me. Hyped prospect, up and down first few years.

Settled in as really good all around player with good on base skills, average pop, and great defense.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

In my mind, $19M per year for Heyward is way way off. I might put the over/under for his whole contract somewhere less than $200M, but I think there’s virtually no chance he gets less than 22-23 million per year.

channelclemente
Guest
channelclemente
1 year 6 months ago

Before you use Crawford as a comp for anything, maybe it would be instructive if he delivered the value suggested by that salary. IMO, he earned (?) about a 30-40% discount he was over what he was paid.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

Wrong test: you have to consider ALL FAs in the Crawford category to judge the approach. Some will turn out bargoons, others flops; yet, the otherall approach may be sound.

Jerry
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Jerry
1 year 6 months ago

Wrong!

Bad contracts shouldn’t be used as starting points in negotiations. Crawfords contract will be viewed by the industry as a terrrible value.

Its useful as a data point, but not the best comp.

Besides, the bigger point is that Crawford was a better offensive player when he signed that contract, and had a skillset that people paid for: leadoff hitter.

Steven
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Steven
1 year 6 months ago

One luxury Heyward has as such a young FA, is that he could target a 5 year deal with an extremely high AAV and position himself to still be able to land another mega contract within his career.

Dave Cornutt
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Dave Cornutt
1 year 6 months ago

Braves observers at TC have speculated on that too… he’ll either not go farther than 6 years, or he’ll want an opt-out at age 30 or 31.

Robert Hombre
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Robert Hombre
1 year 6 months ago

Love the comments here.

‘Your analysis provided useful comparables in Crawford and co., and your analysis doesn’t have anything logically wrong, but I just don’t agree.

Look, I mean, I *PERSONALLY* think WAR’s a good way to pay free agents. But I just, you know, don’t think the rest of MLB thinks like that. Just how the world works. Asking for a friend.’

As though MLB executives are all Jack Zduriencik.

That said, I believe you mentioned in a previous article (it was a while ago) that an increasing proportion of payroll went to those making the minimum or to the lower-tier of players and that a smaller share went to the elite tier of contracts. How much does that impact your methodology?

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 6 months ago

But the thing is, all the teams don’t have to value him that way… only one team has to. No one other than the Mariners valued Robinson Cano at anywhere near what he got, but there he is. True, a lot of teams don’t do much with advanced stats. But some do, and some of the teams who do are the Dodgers and Red Sox, both of whom can afford to pay Heyward what he is asking for.

tz
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tz
1 year 6 months ago

And the Red Sox would welcome Heyward into their spacious RF with open arms. And wallets.

Guest_54
Guest
Guest_54
1 year 4 months ago

While I don’t remember specifics, I do remember that there were definitely other teams in the “ballpark” on Cano. They obviously didn’t end up biting, but I remember the “chatter” that Cano could and would end up in that range, both length and AAV. Some might have gotten “cold feet” or realized they were more than just that one player away, but there were definitely others in that conversation on Cano. One player that might have been a better comp in my tired, old mind would have been Prince Fielder. It seemed the Tigers came in and negotiated against themselves to give him about $30MM more over the course of that contract than what anyone else was even considering.

Underwood4000
Guest
Underwood4000
1 year 6 months ago

In some ways, I think Pablo Sandoval might be a good bellwether contract. Not apples to apples, of course, but: he’s young, he’s a plus-defender, and he shares Heyward’s uneven year-to-year record of offensive stats and health. Heyward’s next contract depends, more than anything, on how he plays in the next season (or even postseason). That, of course, is the gamble teams make by signing these early extensions (as has been discussed on FG and elsewhere). Regardless, a fascinating situation and blog post. Thanks as always.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

“he’s young”

He’s middle-aged, per MLB years – like dog years, or lizard years, or fungus years, in being much misunderstood.

25, 6’5″, 5 years MLB experience with no major surgeries, down-time, or obvious physical question marks = MLB young

28, 5’10”, 6 years MLB experience with 2 major surgeries plus additional down-time & several obvios physical question marks = MLB middle-aged

The whole are of MLB Age is compressed to start with. Peak is USUALLY – not always, but overwhelmingly typically – somewhere in the 26.5 +/- 1.5 years range, and full starts no earlier than 20 and rarely gets even to 40. So, for most, their peak will happen before they get to FA status.

As Cameron points out, Jason Heyward is rare to unique in presenting to FA status with him being able to easily argue he’s unlikely to have reached his peak yet.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

The perception that he may not have hit his peak, I think, might have as much to do with just the fact that he’s perceived to have the ability to hit better than he has as it does with his age. I don’t know how much teams will pay extra for the idea of Heyward’s potential over what a model just based on age and past performance might predict linearly.

Underwood4000
Guest
Underwood4000
1 year 6 months ago

Fair points. I guess I meant Sandoval is young for a FA, but you’re right that 27+ is very different from 25/26.

Eno's Fro
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

Comparing to Crawford’s deal may be apropos, but did I miss the part about there being a lot of remorse over Crawford’s contract? and oh yeah, that his contract might get moved a 2nd time in 5 yrs since signed…

I think it’s crucial to valuing Heyward to see if he can reclaim some of the bat he had pre-beaning. last year he appeared to be a much different hitter than he was before taking a Niese fb in the jaw. His swing is all arms now and that’s why he doesn’t drive the ball like he used to. If this is all he is and we know that elite defense fades faster than hitting does generally, then why would anyone sign him for more than 5/90M or so? Just bc he’s still in his 20s? That alone doesn’t mean he’s worth it. All things considered, I’ll take Hunter Pence.

Nathan
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Nathan
1 year 6 months ago

Was just thinking that even though he’s older Pence looks like steal with all this talk.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 6 months ago

The swing was typical of a number of Braves hitters this year, and the fan base mostly blames that on Greg Walker. There is some speculation that Heyward (and the remaining Braves) will hit better after spending some time with a different coach.

I too recall a lot of people thinking Crawford was an overpay, and history bears that out. However, most front offices seem to have short memories about that sort of thing. When go-fever hits, and teams are bidding against each other for a name player, considerations like that tend to go out the window.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

Every time people point to bad huge contracts as reason why the market should learn and adjust, I want to ask “where are all the 150+ million dollar contracts that worked out great?” Presumably some players are worth at least that much. Where are the ones where you look back and say “great deal”? If there are always way more bad ones that good ones, there may be other forces at play besides $/WAR impacting team decisions, and we probably shouldn’t expect the market to change too much.

Guest_54
Guest
Guest_54
1 year 4 months ago

Pujols’ 2004 contract is the one I always think of when I consider “good” 9-figure contracts. This one obviously wasn’t a FA contract, but the cost/benefit analysis on this one definitely comes back in strong favor of the team. However, after this one, I’m like you. I know there’s some out there, but mostly I just hear crickets.

JayT
Guest
JayT
1 year 6 months ago

Obviously Major League front offices have a pretty short memory when it comes to Crawford seeing as though Ellsbury got a bigger contract even though he was an older, worse, more injured player up to the point that he became a free agent.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 6 months ago

It’s good to also consider Stanton, who is three months younger than Heyward and debuted in the same year (2010)

Take a look at the WAR graphs from this site for Heyward, Stanton, and Crawford:

http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?players=4940,4949,1201

Up to age 24, Heyward’s career WAR is just ahead of Stanton, who is just ahead of Crawford.

Let’s say you’d like to discard Heyward’s great rookie year and Stanton’s OK rookie year. Heyward’s WAR over that period is now a little bit less than Stanton’s (16.8 vs 17.2).

But what about the market not valuing defense. Fair enough, let’s subtract half of the defensive component of each player’s WAR for that same four-year period. Now Heyward’s WAR is 14.3 vs. Stanton’s 18.2, or just under 80% of his value.

Well, 80% of $25 million is $20 million. So, assuming no salary inflation, discounting the market value of defense, and ignoring their rookie seasons, Heyward still projects to be a $20 million per year player, entering free agency right before his prime years.

I don’t see why this is viewed as ridiculous. And if Heyward puts it all together this season, his value could skyrocket.

Jerry
Guest
Jerry
1 year 6 months ago

The problem is, teams won’t just look at his WAR.

I think there are two really problematic assumptions here:

1. that teams value defense as much people here do

2. that teams that do value defense calculate it and weigh it the same way that Fangraphs does in WAR

Stanton and Heyward may have similar WARs, but they don’t generate that value in similar ways. Stanton has a skill set that is highly valued: hitting and RH power. He’s also incredibly marketable.

The problem with the comps of Crawford, Ichiro, Beltran, and Ellsbury is that those players generated their value on offense. They were good outfielders, but were viewed as very good offensive players.

Most importantly, those guys fit into an archetype: leadoff hitter. Rational or not, teams still pay for that. Heyward doesn’t fit into that archetype. I think fans and many teams will view him as more similar to Alex Gordon, Nick Markakis, and Hunter Pence. And he’ll probably get paid more like them. His youth might get him an extra year, but I don’t see enough teams aggressively bidding on him to drive the price up above $20 million.

Despite the fact that teams are getting smarter, I think that they still look at guys like Heyward as ‘good values’ as opposed to elite players, and that will keep them out of that uppermost pay grade.

indyralph
Member
Member
indyralph
1 year 6 months ago

Ichiro career wRC+ = 107
Elsbury career wRC+ = 109
Crawford career wRC+ = 106
Beltran career wRC+ = 120
Heyward career wRC+ = 117

Jerry
Guest
Jerry
1 year 6 months ago

Career numbers don’t mean shit. Its what they did on the eve of free agency. Ask Victor Martinez to explain it to you.

Crawford walk year wRC+: 134
Beltran: 128
Ichiro: 122
Ellsbury: 113
Heyward (last year): 110

You’re also forgetting what those other guys do that Heyward doesn’t:

1. Steal LOTS of bases (40-50 SBs)
2. Fit into the archetype of ‘leadoff hitter’

Again, I’m not saying Heyward doesn’t deserve big money. I just don’t think enough teams value his particular skill set enough to run up the price.

Bob
Guest
Bob
1 year 6 months ago

I think the Phillies are gonna overbid on him to jump start the process of getting competitive again. 220-240m at 10 years wouldn’t surprise me.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 6 months ago

Well, he’s closer to Mike Trout going forward than he is to Ryan Howard. You can look at it that way.

Ruben Amaro. Jr
Guest
Ruben Amaro. Jr
1 year 6 months ago

Howard had 95 RBIs last year which is below his normal. Heyward needed the last two years together to reach that total. Everybody gives me such a hard time about over paying for Howard so why would you want me to pay more for a guy who isn’t even half as good.

I mean Ryan’s slowed down but all you have to do at first base is catch the ball. And you guys love to talk about on bases percentage well Ryan Howard’s on bases perct. is even higher than his batting average. He helps you out in many ways, and if you want me to pay what he’s worth to a 1 dimensional nonclutch player like Heyward you must be trolling.

Enemy of the State
Guest
Enemy of the State
1 year 6 months ago

Ruben, you comment here too much

Ruben Amaro. Jr Impersonator
Guest
Ruben Amaro. Jr Impersonator
1 year 6 months ago

I’m going to post something stupid and the guys at Fangraphs will think it’s hilarious. LOLZ!

Jerry
Guest
Jerry
1 year 6 months ago

Your crazy!

The Phillies’ track record is to overvalue guys who can hit.

He’s not their type of guy at all.

Aaron
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Aaron
1 year 6 months ago

My one thing regarding his hitting, there are all these rumours about the Braves wanting Andrelton Simmons to hit a “certain way”, isn’t there just as much chance they have wanted Heyward to be focusing on just putting the ball in play when he’s at the top of the order? I really like this for St. Louis, and I don’t think they will try and alter how he approaches the plate. It seems like the Braves have done just that with their players in the past, so it’s not completely unlikely that they haven’t done it with him as well.

Regarding CF vs RF defensive metrics. Yes, CF is more valuable, but you can’t say a guy who rates as a top 3 defensive player in the MLB by the numbers should be chopped down. The guys a stud on defense, the metrics adjust for position so just blowing it off as “he’s a RF” has to be wrong. If he played CF at a small decline to what he does in RF, which I have no doubt he could, he’d probably have an even higher WAR etc from his defense.

RMD
Guest
RMD
1 year 6 months ago

7/155

Teams won’t overpay for (corner) outfield defense, especially not a guy with merely above-average SB numbers.

Matt P
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Matt P
1 year 6 months ago

Teams pay for steals. Guys like Crawford could steal 60 a season. Heyward has stolen about sixty in his career. My comp would be Hunter Pence. Similar speed, better offense, worse defense and also plays in a corner. 8 years and $160 sounds closer based on that.

Wayne Campbell
Guest
Wayne Campbell
1 year 6 months ago

Pence didn’t hit FA at barely 26 though. I’d be surprised if a healthy Jason Heyward didn’t exceed that # by quite a bit.

Matt P
Guest
Matt P
1 year 6 months ago

You’re right.

But Pence got 5 years and 90 million. Giving Heyward 8 years and 160 million gives him extra years for his youth and a small bump in AAV. Of course, whether he’d rather have 5 and 100 or 8 and 160 is another question.

Dan
Guest
Dan
1 year 6 months ago

The difference between Pence and Heyward is two wins on defense and boatloads of athletic ability. And Heyward takes his walks. And has more raw power and more speed. There is substantially more room for growth with Heyward than Pence, and Heyward is already a better player.

JayT
Guest
JayT
1 year 6 months ago

Also, Pence didn’t hit the open market, and judging from the other free agent deals last year, he took a discount to stay with the Giants.

Matt P
Guest
Matt P
1 year 6 months ago

Pence signed his deal about four or five weeks before being eligible for free agency. That’s close enough to hitting the open market. And at the time people felt that Pence got overpaid. It just looks like a team friendly deal in hindsight.

You can argue that Heyward has more power than Pence if you’d like. But Pence has a higher ISO, average HRs etc etc. Pick your stat.

It’s great that Heyward takes walks. Really. But Pence had a similar OBP from 2011-2013 that Heyward had from 2012-2014. So, I don’t really care how they get on base because they both do. Of course, my bet is that teams care more about a .280 BA then being able to walk.

Pence has slightly better offense while Heyward has considerably better defense. That’s what I said above. I propose one of two things will happen.

1) Heyward will sign a deal similar to Pence in AAV. In that case, I’m right that teams valued Crawford and other players ability to steal rather than defense for a corner outfielder. We all agree that Heyward potentially can get more years due to youth.

2) Heyward will sign a deal closer to Ellsbury in AAV. That shows that teams are valuing defense more.

Matt P
Guest
Matt P
1 year 6 months ago

Chase Headley also isn’t a bad comp. Plays a different position but it’s harder defensively. Similar type of offense. Also has good defense. Older so he’ll get fewer years and possibly slightly lower AAV. If he gets 5 and 60 then it’s going to be hard to see how Heyward gets an AAV of $22M.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 6 months ago

“Pence signed his deal about four or five weeks before being eligible for free agency. That’s close enough to hitting the open market. ”

Actually, it really isn’t. The reason why is the tampering rules. Pence could have gotten a general feel for his market, but it would have been against the rules for another team to make him an offer, or for his agent to solicit an offer from another team. Players don’t find out their true market value until they actually become eligible for free agency and can negotiate with any team.

Jerry
Guest
Jerry
1 year 6 months ago

Its not just steals. Its archetypes.

Crawford, Ichiro, and Ellsbury were all ‘leadoff hitters’. They fit into an archetype that teams value.

Heyward doesn’t. I’m not saying its rational, but it matters.

Matt P
Guest
Matt P
1 year 6 months ago

Agree completely. But if Heyward could steal 40 bases a year he’d fit that archetype also. He has the OBP for it.

Guest_54
Guest
Guest_54
1 year 4 months ago

“Agree completely. But if Heyward [WOULD] steal 40 bases a year he’d fit that archetype also. He has the OBP for it.”

There. Fixed it for you :-) Heyward has the ABILITY to steal bases, he just doesn’t. He really makes me think of a freak of nature in his true and raw ability. It literally makes me drool. He’s the kind of player that gives baseball executives wet dreams about how great he COULD become.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

I really think you’re overblowing this “archetype” thing. What, teams are going to throw their hands up and say “I don’t know what box Heyward fits in!” and offer him 6/108? No, MLB teams are not being run by Jon Heyman and Jon Morosi. They will see Heyward for what he is, more or less and value him accordingly.

Honestly, at this point, I think that if teams pay more for power and batting average, it’s mostly because fans and the media care more about it, which means that those players bring in more fan attention and revenue, which means are worth paying some extra money for based on the extra revenue they generate.

Tom
Guest
Tom
1 year 6 months ago

I don’t think it works to adjust proportionally from total payroll at the time of the Beltran et al contracts to 2015 total payroll. You have to get more granular and look at how MLB total payroll has been distributed over that time. Have the highest paid players’ salaries increased at the same rate as the total payroll has? It doesn’t seem that it has, though I do not have the numbers to back that up. As total payroll MLB payroll goes up, it seem the top tier of contracts are going up slightly, more players are getting middle-tier type contracts, and the low-end contracts are becoming more valuable. Am I way off on this? Thoughts?

indyralph
Member
Member
indyralph
1 year 6 months ago

By Cot’s Contracts (and my ability to count), 18 of 30 richest contracts in MLB history started in 2012 or later, 14 in 2013 or later. 5 of the 12 prior to 2012 were Yankees, including 3 to A-Rod and Jeter, while only 2 since are Yankees.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

Disclaimer: I don’t have the data for this and I am too lazy to look it up.

I do think you are off on that. Every year, the record for biggest contract ever given out is shattered. Remember how long Zito’s contract was the biggest ever given to a pitcher? That held for a little while, and now it’s been demolished many times over. We’ve seen a pitcher and multiple position players get contracts greater than $30 million AAV, and the pitcher (Kershaw) maybe could have gotten more total money but he didn’t want more than 7 years.

So that’s my perception vs. your perception. I guess we’ve settled this.

indyralph
Member
Member
indyralph
1 year 6 months ago

I don’t get what people don’t get. Take all of the offense vs. defense out of it. You JUST SAW Giancarlo Stanton get $325M without other teams bidding. You only need to believe that Heyward is 60% (!) of Giancarlo Stanton to get to $200M. You have to believe that the market thinks he will be worse by 20% over 10 years than the market expected of Pujols or Cano or the Tigers expect of Cabrera over roughly ages 31 to 41.

I think $200M just still seems like an outrageous number, and people need to catch up to the crazy baseball economy. In 6 years, when Puig and McCutchen and Rizzo and Trout and Rendon and Mookie Betts (?!) have just signed or are about to sign their 10/$335 contracts at age 31, the 5 years and $100M left on a 30 year old Heyward’s contract have a pretty good chance to look like gold.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 6 months ago

This.

Alex
Guest
Alex
1 year 6 months ago

Stanton’s contract is not a good comparison, it was signed with the Marlins and included a “I’m signing a contract with Jeff Loria” tax.

indyralph
Member
Member
indyralph
1 year 6 months ago

To which Loria – notorious Scrooge, pilferer of taxpayers, king of firesales – begrudgingly acquiesced?

Radivel
Guest
Radivel
1 year 6 months ago

Yes, there just won’t ever be anyone else on the team. When someone asks why, he’ll tell them that they should ask Stanton to pay his players for him.

arc
Guest
arc
1 year 6 months ago

Offset by a “I’m signing a contract before free agency” discount.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

Yeah I mean in my mind there’s no question.

You can adjust Heyward down because a lot of his value is tied to defense.

Then adjust him down a little more because he doesn’t steal a lot of bases and isn’t precisely a “leadoff” hitter.

Then adjust him down some more because his offense is slightly down in his most recent season.

He still gets $22 million a year.

Guest_54
Guest
Guest_54
1 year 4 months ago

I just don’t get it. Todd Cunningham only has to be 60% of Giancarlo Stanton to get to $200MM. He’s only 8 months older than Stanton, plays CF and is a switch-hitter . . .

THESE KINDS OF ARGUMENTS ARE SO FILLED WITH FALLACIES THAT THE LIST IS LONGER THAN YOUR ARGUMENT!

While true that each case of arbitration or free-agency is precedented on previous cases of similar ability and situational players, there is really no REAL comparison between Stanton and Heyward other than they are both professional baseball players, relatively the same age and play the same position. They derive their VASTLY different values from TOTALLY DIFFERENT means and therefore do not fit in the same comparison unless you are Scott Boras who compares ALL of his free agents to whatever HOF player they most resemble (often-times in name or physical appearance only).

Anon
Guest
Anon
1 year 6 months ago

I am not sold on the comparisons. They are okay, but they seem to consistently skew away from Heyward.

Ellsbury was coming off a 5.8 WAR season (9.1 peak three years before contract). Beltran was coming off two 6+ WAR seasons (and a postseason with a 284 wRC+). Crawford was coming off a 7+ WAR season. Ichiro was in the middle of a 6 WAR season when he signed.

Player age and contract length make the Ichiro comparison troublesome. Five years means an inflated AAV compared to 7 to 10 years that you suggest for Heyward. Ellsbury and Beltran were both CF, and while Heyward can play there, he is viewed as a RF (excellent RF, but still RF). The Crawford contract is a highly visable fiasco, which should make a huge contract less likely. All these comparisons had a higher portion of their value from offense than Heyward (also applies to Wells and Hunter).

Maybe Heyward’s age overcomes all this, but I would be surprised if Heyward gets $200M+ unless he has an offensive breakout this year. 10/200 (which I am mentally viewing as 5/120 + 5/80) doesn’t seem crazy to me, but defensive aging/valuation and the large magnitude ($200M) creates a too huge amount of risk.

Giants Dynasty
Guest
Giants Dynasty
1 year 6 months ago

200 million is not that ridiculous considering young guys out of Cuba that we have never even heard of are getting 100 million guaranteed without ever playing in the mlb, seemingly everyday. Nowadays it isn’t about how good you are, but also how young you are. If Heyward is 30 then yeah, 150 mil. But for a 26 yo, there are too many smart gms (theo, friedman) who would let him escape for under 200.

Shankbone
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

Not one mention of his splits?
Versus righties: 281/374/466
Versus lefties: 221/301/349
He batted 169/252/225 against lefties in 2014.

That doesn’t look like a 200MM guy to me. That looks like an Andre Ethier comp held back by stellar defense.

Robert Hombre
Guest
Robert Hombre
1 year 6 months ago

Love the 2014 double-counting there. Included it in his career totals and then pulled out the most recent, worst year as additional evidence, whilst heroically ignoring his 125 wRC+ against lefties in 2013.

That doesn’t look like an argument to me. That looks like a Cold Cut Combo held back by Salvador Dali.

Shankbone
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

Double count or emphasize how bad he is? Only Salvador Dali knows…

Shankbone
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

2013 slash against lefties: 264/347/455
It is the only one that beats his righty split in his 5 years, and sticks out… like a cold cut combo.

Kenz
Guest
Kenz
1 year 6 months ago

I don’t know, most left-handed hitters have similarly huge platoon splits. And if a 31-year old Shin-soo Choo, the god of ridiculous platoon splits, got $130 million for 7 years, I don’t see why a 25-year old Jason Heyward couldn’t do better.

Shankbone
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

Great point. The market is the market. But I did think that Choo deal didn’t make sense because of the splits.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

Bruh, Andre Ethier got a 5/85 extension – which could easily become 6/103 guaranteed – before he was a free agent. He was 30 when he signed it, and he was a terrible defender by the numbers at the time.

If Ethier is his offensive comp, and Heyward is a free agent at 26 instead of 30, and Heyward is on the opposite side of the defensive spectrum from Ethier, and it’s been 3 years since that extension was signed, and Ethier got that much, the Heyward is going to get paid.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

Also in defense of Andre Ethier (doyer fan 4 lyfe), from 2008-2012, among players with 2500+ PA (so about 500 a season), his 128 wRC+ is 24th out of 103 qualifiers, right between Robinson Cano and Chase Utley. Obviously the guy is not a star, but he was a really solid hitter for a good while.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

(But if he played defense like Heyward he would be a star)

Bat
Guest
Bat
1 year 6 months ago

Boras and other big agents had to have been ecstatic when Stanton signed this monster contract; they must have felt like their client signed this deal due to the collateral effects this will yield.

So far in the 2014 offseason Martin and V-Mart also beat projections: Martin by a decent amount, and V-Mart by a bit.

Seems like market prices may run high this offseason.

Maybe the Mets weren’t so silly to have given Cuddyer two years, $21 million plus forego 1st round draft pick (valued at approximately $10 million from projections I saw)? Alderson said he thought that was a good price for Cuddyer based on his estimate of what the market would bear this offseason.

Just speculation here, but it does seem like this Stanton deal will alter the landscape. By how much is the question.

Shankbone
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

The rub with the contract is the Marlins got their pound of flesh: heavily backloaded, even by the backloading standards of nine figure contracts. That’s Loria’s ace in the hole – hoping that they’re successful and he has good enough stats to opt out so he misses the bad beat on the back end of the contract. The Marlins pay Stanton less than 30MM in the next 3 years as they “go for it”.

Roger
Guest
Roger
1 year 6 months ago

I think a large part of the problem is that Americans in our era tend not to realize/grasp 37% inflation over 5 years. We’re used to looking at other areas of our economy where inflation is a few percent and can often be ignored or only slightly adjusted for such a short time period. At this point we have to put gut feeling and price familiarity aside.

Jerry
Guest
Jerry
1 year 6 months ago

The other problem with Americans is that they think that short term inflation rates that are way out of line with overall inflation will continue unchanged into the future.

Same logic that to ‘bubbles.’

bookbook
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

The price of college has risen at 3-5 times the rate of inflation for decades on end. The price of even bad CEOs has increased at dozens of times the rate of inflation since Reagan took office. The price of baseball players has increased at many times the rate of inflation for a long, long time.

At some point each of those “bubbles” may burst, but the trend is your friend.

Matthew Murphy
Member
1 year 6 months ago

While the table clearly shows that Heyward is similar to the listed players in the different areas he contributes, exactly HOW he contributes in those areas is pretty different.

Beltran was coming off of three seasons with at least 26 homers and 35 steals.
Crawford was coming off of two seasons batting over .300 with 15+ homers and 47+ steals.
Ichiro hit at least .300 with at least 30 steals in all seven of his major league seasons before his contract.
Ellsbury had a spotty track record, but a .297 career average and at least 39 steals in each of his four “full” seasons.

Heyward does a lot of things well – he gets on base, runs the bases well, and plays excellent defense. But most of that comes from an above-average walk rate, good baserunning (not great SB numbers), the defense, and being around average everywhere else (strikeouts, average, power). The market’s changing a lot and I could be wrong, but I’d guess Heyward gets paid a small step below the ~$25M the first three guys made (unless, of course, he goes out and hits something like .280 with 25 homers this year.)

Tomás
Guest
Tomás
1 year 6 months ago

I’m gonna say that the contract that Cameron gave Heyward 7/175 is way too much. Listen I absolutely love the guy, defense wins ball games no doubt about it, great baserunner, good OBP skills. Now back to reality, he had a 735 OPS last year (477 OPS vs lefties), and a long injury history.

– Jason Heyward career numbers over 162 games are: 262 AVG 351 OBP 429 SLG 781 OPS 20 HR 69 RBI 15 SB
– Carl Crawford career numbers over 162 games are: 296 AVG 337 OBP 444 SLG 781 OPS 12 HR 66 RBI 54 SB
– Carlos Beltran career numbers over 162 games are: 284 AVG 353 OBP 490 SLG 844 OPS 27 HR 105 RBI 36 SB
– Jacoby Ellsbury career numbers over 162 games are: 297 AVG 350 OBP 439 SLG 789 OPS 15 HR 72 RBI 55 SB

I think Carlos Beltran is a completely different player in this group and clearly had the best career numbers heading into FA, not to mention the monster playoff numbers in 2004. Ellsburry and Crawford are the two best comparables but look at the stolen bases for each player, clearly Heyward doesn’t steal 50 bases per year. So I would argue that Heyward should receive less even with the age difference. Ellsburry is by far the best comparable of the group because it was last year when teams received extra tv money so his contract is already inflated to todays contracts. Assume a 3% inflation rate year by year. If Ellsburry received 22 million pr yr last year, then I think Heyward’s annual value is about 19.4 mill/per yr so it would be 20 million next year with a 3% increase.

5/100, 6/120, 7/140 are my guess, unless he has a really good year with his bat in 2015. That would get him closer to Carlos Beltran territory.

JayT
Guest
JayT
1 year 6 months ago

You can’t just look at raw numbers though. You’re ignoring the fact that league-wide offense has plummeted in the last few years, so Beltran’s 844 OPS really isn’t all that different from Hayward’s 781. I agree that Beltran was better, but it wasn’t by as much as those raw numbers would lead you to believe, and in fact as this article points out, Hayward’s wRC+ has actually been higher than Beltran’s was at this point in his career.

Psy Jung
Guest
Psy Jung
1 year 6 months ago

So defense matters, but not in reality?

PackBob
Guest
PackBob
1 year 6 months ago

Another factor is that there are a fair number of players locked up in long term contracts, which deflates the free agent pool. This should drive the price up for the current free agents. All it takes is one team that really likes Heyward’s skillset. Heyward’s age should also drive up the amount. This year’s seeming overpay will be next year’s normal.

andrew l
Guest
andrew l
1 year 6 months ago

Very well fleshed out article, thanks for the response!

cardzilla
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

i think you used a poor contract example for your base.

you would have been much better off to use shin-soo choo as a base. happened sooner, and closer type of player.

not to mention everyone thinks the crawford deal was an aberration and should never have happened, much less be used as a base for heyward’s future contract.

JayT
Guest
JayT
1 year 6 months ago

Except that Choo is largely considered a defensive liability and he’s seven years(!) older than Heyward.

cardzilla
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

*if* heyward goes back to 2012 type production, then maybe 7/125. he’ll still have shown less power than choo. maybe 6/110.

but anything beyond that before he even plays this year is too speculative to even consider.

heck, maybe 2015 will be just like 2014. if that, then he’ll be lucky to get 5 yrs for 15mil.

RSF
Guest
RSF
1 year 6 months ago

Yes, another 5 win season (6 according to B-R) will destroy his value.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

If Heyward falls off a cliff next season then he gets 5/75.

No, literally, if he falls off a cliff, breaks all his bones, misses 2015, but heals up and is back in shape by the offseason, he gets 5/75.

sam
Guest
sam
1 year 6 months ago

So we’re not even going to discuss that Carl Crawford’s deal was an abomination at the time he signed it and became even more of one when he predictably started to lose his athleticism? How about the fact that Crawford’s offensive value is nearly twice that of Heyward and that he therefore shouldn’t be considered a comparable at all? No? Ok, how about the lack of acknowledgement that a 7 year deal for an athletic player is vastly different than a 10 year deal?

This article smells of confirmation bias.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

How is Carl Crawford’s offensive value nearly twice that of Heyward? Heward’s career wRC+ is 117, and Crawford’s in the 5 seasons prior to his deal was 116. Crawford has more offensive value by fangraphs because baserunning is included, but Heyward mostly makes up for it with better defense.

sam
Guest
sam
1 year 6 months ago

Its right there in the chart. Heyward’s offensive value is 70 and Crawford’s is 120. Their wRC+’s don’t take into account Crawford’s threefold baserunning advantage over Heyward.

Lanidrac
Guest
Lanidrac
1 year 6 months ago

While you’ve defended your position well on Heyward’s next contract value, this just means the Cardinals are even less likely to extend him. If they wouldn’t spend $240M on Albert Pujols, a homegrown superstar coming off the greatest 11 year stretch of baseball for an individual player in probably decades, why would they spend $200M on Heyward (even after inflation and with him being 6 years younger), especially when they already have a couple of promising OF prospects nearly ready to take over?

JayT
Guest
JayT
1 year 6 months ago

Decades, five years, po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

sam
Guest
sam
1 year 6 months ago

In reality Pujols was at least 8 years old than Heyward would be. The Cardinals were all too aware of his real age and negotiated accordingly.

bvillebaron
Guest
bvillebaron
1 year 6 months ago

Which is why, despite his claim after the trade that he was open to talking about an extension with Atlanta, Heyard is not in St.Louis and Miller is in Atlanta. By the way, am I correct that Stanton’s megadeal is, like the ones the Marlins signed a few years back when many in the media claimed they were “going for it”, extremely backloaded? If so, the Marlins can dump these contracts and start all over again in a couple years, huh?

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 6 months ago

Yes, it is very back-loaded. What I think: Loria is betting/hoping that Stanton will use his opt-out in 2019. That way, Loria doesn’t have to pay the bulk of the contract, and he gets to look like the good guy when Stanton walks.

Chris
Guest
Chris
1 year 6 months ago

Why would anyone give $200 million to a guy with 40% of his WAR coming from defense, knowing that defensive ability peaks early and while his offense has been in decline?

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 6 months ago

It doesn’t just matter when defense peaks, it also matters how fast it declines. Miguel Cabrera is going to be unplayable in the field by the time his contract runs out. A team signing Heyward to a long deal may still have an average defender at the end of the deal, and considering how ugly some of the other recent mega-deals may look at the end, that could be a considerable improvement.

pft
Guest
pft
1 year 6 months ago

Crawford was a better offensive player, say 30% better. Heyward is better defensively, about 30% so. Since offense is 85% of a players value, in real dollars Heyward should make about 20% less, or basically what Crawford got in 2011

Spurious Sam
Guest
Spurious Sam
1 year 6 months ago

Pft is a worse commenter than an average one, say 200% worse. Pft comments more often than an average commenter, say 200% more often. Since the quality of comments is 85% of a commenter’s ability to annoy, in real annoying-units pft is almost equal to an average Bleacher Report commenter.

Sane Person
Guest
Sane Person
1 year 6 months ago

Unless he has a monster, breakout season in 2015, I just don’t see him getting 200mil. I could see an 8 year/160 million dollar deal, maybe 175 at most I’d say. I just don’t think teams value corner outfield defense in proportion to other skills. Also, Crawford and Beltran were pretty significantly better offensively than Heyward IMO. His career stats look nice compared to everyone else listed, but I think that’s more due to the start of his career, since the past 2 years he really hasn’t hit very well at all (pretty good but far from great offense). I just don’t think an owner would sign off on giving him 200+mil even if the GM think he’s worth it, due to the fact that he’s just not a huge difference maker in my opinion.
Of course, he could hit close to 30 HRs this year for the Cards and slash .300/.400/.500, and then all my points are moot, and he’ll easily get 200mil+. I just don’t see it though after watching him the past 2 years at the plate. Out of 5 seasons, he’s only had 2 really god ones with the bat, and the last was 2012. However, he’s still valuable though due to his youth.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
1 year 6 months ago

Is there a perception issue with Heyward? His stat and skill profile makes it seem like he’s 5’9″ 175 pounds. So when most people see him (and this based on the general masses I see commenting on less enlightened sites), they expect .300 avg and 30 home runs and they severely underestimate his OB ability, speed, and defense.

So I guess my question is, does this exist as far as guys playing up/down to their perception in their salary? Or is it something that probably doesn’t happen anymore because teams now have math.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
1 year 6 months ago

Jason Heyward is like Brett Gardner, but with even less power and speed. …buyer beware on that one.

jardinero
Guest
jardinero
1 year 6 months ago

I think all of us can see Heyward getting the money if he has a season equal to his career average. The issue is whether his power continues its steep decline. If he slugs .350 in 2015, I have hard time believing he’ll get that kind of money

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
1 year 6 months ago

I’m sure he will get a boatload of money, but the winning teams will be the 29 that don’t give it to him.

Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp
1 year 6 months ago

I do not see how Heyward is at all comparable to Beltran. I understand Heyward actually has a higher wRC+, but that needs further analysis in my opinion.

Beltran’s first two years were a wRC+ of 95 in 723 PA and a wRC of 63 in 413 PA. His first 1136 PA were not all that impressive. Heyward, on the other hand, came out firing with a 134 wRC+ in his first 623 PA before posting a wRC+ of 96 in 456 PA. At that point in their careers, Heyward had been worth considerably more at the plate.

In the three years leading up to his free agency, Beltran posted wRC+ of 117, 134, and 128. This included an amazing postseason for Houston IIRC. Heyward’s last three years so far have been 121, 120, and 110.

Perhaps more importantly, Heyward hits far fewer HR than Beltran. Beltran was a CF who had just hit 38 HR. I understand that this was a different scoring environment, but teams salivate over that.

I don’t know that these differences SHOULD result in more money for Beltran, but I think they absolutely would if the two players were both free agents at the same time.

Dave Cornutt
Guest
Dave Cornutt
1 year 6 months ago

Yes, the trend in his wRC+ numbers appears to be moving in the wrong direction. However, over the same period, a lot of the other Braves hitters have experienced the same thing; other than Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis, the whole team declined some offensively in 2014. Speculation is that this had to do with the hitting coaching (and the Braves have replaced their hitting coaches), so I think there’s an expectation that Heyward’s offense will improve in St. Louis. Also, Turner Field is a bit of a pitcher’s park; ESPN’s (I know, I know) numbers have it ranked 21st in 2014, where Busch Stadium was ranked 4th.

regfairfield
Guest
regfairfield
1 year 6 months ago

The only reason you did this over six years was so you could capture the beginning of Beltrans career when he stunk and the one year Heyward could hit. No projection systems, or really anyone think what a guy did five years ago is relevant.

Beltran was close to the best player in baseball when he hit FA, while Heywards value rests on him being the greatest right fielder of all time defensively. They aren’t remotely comparable.

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