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Franklin Gutierrez Locked Up

How things have changed in so short a period of time. The idea that the Mariners were this winter going to attempt to lock up Franklin Gutierrez to a contract buying out his arbitration years was known for months. However, how the news finally broke on the details of the contract speaks a lot to the information age in 2010. A Venezuelan reporter, Francisco Blavia, tweeted on the deal around noon Eastern Time. The news spread quickly, helped by the Mariners-focused presence on Twitter, and within just a couple hours we had confirmation from Ken Rosenthal. What advances await us this coming year in Twitter as a news broker?

Vague questions aside, lets look at this deal. Four years for $20.5 million, with a team option for a fifth year, is the word that came from Blavia and later confirmed.

Gutierrez obviously broke out with a 5.9 WAR season in 2009, powered by his super human exploits roving center field in Seattle. While that season was a new career mark for Franklin, Gutierrez was worth 1.8 wins over 301 PAs during 2007 and worth 2.3 wins in 440 PAs in 2008. On a per 600 PA basis, Gutierrez’s last three seasons, in order, then look like 3.6 WAR, 3.1 WAR and 5.6. Granted, just pro-rating the WARs out to full seasons isn’t exact, but just used as an example that Gutierrez’s 2009 season did not come completely out of nowhere statistically, even if PR-wise he was in Grady Sizemore‘s shadow in Cleveland.

Even entering his prime years (Franklin turns 27 in February), expecting six wins going forward would be optimistic. Given his age, numbers and track record, though, I believe four to five wins per year is entirely reasonable. I am going to stick with four WAR to try to be conservative. Wins on the open market have been going at $4.25-$4.5 million per win for the last couple years up until this winter, but have been down to about $4 million now. So roughly $17 million per season is what Gutierrez would be worth on the open market.

Franklin was entering his first arbitration year, so this deal buys out all arbitration years plus a free agency year, and likely a second year as well with the option. Four years at the standard 40%/60%/80%/100% arbitration award weighting comes out to 2.8 free agent seasons. With a 10% discount for the security that the length of the deal gives the player, at a four-win projection, Franklin Gutierrez would be a touch over $40 million for this service time span.

Interestingly enough, Grady Sizemore received about the exact same amount of money ($20.7M) for the same four service seasons, but that was signed four years ago. Curtis Granderson signed a deal two years ago that pays him about $7 million more for these same years. Both of those are good contracts for their teams and this one should be no exception. Another fabulous move for Jack Zduriencik and Seattle.