LaRoche’s Offer

The market this winter just keeps getting more and more intriguing. Certainly, Adrian Beltre settling for a one year deal and Matt Holliday receiving a staggering seven year mega-deal created more than enough stir these past few days. Flying under this frenzy is the fact that the San Francisco Giants offered Adam LaRoche a two year, 17 million dollar contract.

And he rejected it.

Troy Glaus has a much better history than LaRoche, despite his injury issues, and only received a one year deal worth 2.75 million. Hideki Matsui, a DH with a significantly better bat in the AL (+13 points of wRC+ last year, +11 for career), received a one year deal worth only 6.5 million. Remember, a -5 1B is roughly equal, defensively, to a DH. And does LaRoche really think that he can get a deal similar to that of Bobby Abreu‘s 2/19 contract anywhere else?

There’s been no sign in this market that a player with skills comparable to those of LaRoche can get a contract guaranteeing that much money over multiple years. Our fan projections have LaRoche as a 2.1 win player, which is currently showing up as 9.3 million dollars in value. However, the market so far this year doesn’t seem to suggest that teams are paying $4.4M per win. This year, the market seems to be settling in the range of $3.5M to $4.0M per win. Given that the fan projections are far more optimistic than CHONE’s projection of 1.2 WAR for LaRoche, 2/17 seems to be the best that LaRoche would hope to see, and likely would have been an overpay.

That makes this offer especially inexcusable from the Giants perspective. After seeing his team compile a horrendous .305 wOBA and come in producing 118 runs below the league average, Brian Sabean is likely feeling the need to improve the offense. Still, the team has Travis Ishikawa and Josh Phelps, who project similarly to LaRoche according to CHONE. That, and they non-tendered Ryan Garko, who projects as a superior hitter to LaRoche and should come much cheaper.

I would suggest that this offer could be a result of the insidious workings of the Mystery Team, but Adam LaRoche isn’t a Scott Boras client. Brian Sabean is so desperate to add offense that he’s willing to pay $8.5M per year for a minimal upgrade, and Adam LaRoche and his agent are so vain that they declined it. With the first base market tiny – it’s basically down to the Giants, Mets, and Orioles after the Mariners’ addition of Casey Kotchman – there are still plenty of options available aside from LaRoche.

It appears that Sabean and the Giants have realized that their offer is a poor offer even before considering the lack of competition and current talent on their roster, and “may have pulled their offer,” according to Buster Olney. If this is true, don’t be surprised if Adam LaRoche is kicking himself come April.

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40 Responses to “LaRoche’s Offer”

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  1. Daniel says:

    My approach with LaRoche, Delgado, Branyon, etc. would be to put a one year, $2-3 M offer on the table and the first guy who takes it has a job. There just aren’t enough teams with that need to really drive up demand and price.

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  2. DavidCEisen says:

    CHONE is projecting for LaRoche to have his worst season in years. 2 WAR seems reasonable, though the offer was likely an overpay in the current market.

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    • wobatus says:

      Yes, it is odd. Laroche has out-wOBA’d his CHONE projection 4 straight years. He has out wOBA’ed garko 2 years running. He is a much better hitter than Ishikawa. Phelps, hard to say, hasn’t been a regular for a while.

      This doesn’t mean to suggest it was a good offer. But I think laRoche’s bat is being undersold by CHONE.

      Of course, the key to laroche is waiting until the all-star break to pick him up. :) Maybe normally that is flukey, but his second half pick-ups are so large and happen pretty regularly.

      He’s crazy to pass up that kind of money, I’d think.

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  3. noseeum says:

    My goodness. How does Sabean evan have a job? It’s just laughable at this point.

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    • David says:

      because he drafted Lincecum, Cain, Jonathan Sanchez (in the 27th round!), and signed Pablo Sandoval as an undrafted FA. say what you want about his FA and trade decisions, the guy is a great scout (or maybe he just has a great scouting department, but he did hire those guys after all).

      also, I think we’ve been guilty of a bit of 20/20 hindsight on Sabean recently. for example, people have pointed to the Renteria contract as being bad.

      a quote from Dave Cameron: “For San Francisco, this isn’t a bad deal – they get a guy who should rebound and re-establish some value without any long term risk, and they fill a hole with an average player while waiting for the kids to develop.”

      the Sanchez for Alderson deal has been panned. well, if there’s one thing Sabean’s good at, it’s evaluating pitchers. should we really be surprised if Alderson falls off a cliff next season? (not that Freddy Sanchez is a particularly valuable player, of course)

      now I am no Sabean apologist. the Zito deal, the Garko trade, even thinking of resigning Bengie Molina – those were all unmitigated failures. but I don’t think Sabean is really as bad as some people say (i.e. I don’t think he’s in the bottom 5, but he’s certainly in the bottom 15)

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      • quincy0191 says:

        Sabean isn’t a good GM or a good scout. Yes, he hired Dick Tidrow, who’s a genius, but signing good managerial talent is an owner’s job. Sabean is the GM, and his tenure has been almost a complete failure. Just about the only thing he did right was to continue re-signing Bonds, and any GM who walked away from Barry (because he obviously wanted to stay in SF) from 1997-2007 should have been fired on the spot, and probably burned at the stake.

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    • Steve says:

      i don’t think Sabean is good or anything, but let’s not rip him for something that might not even be true. it’s a rumor.

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  4. maqman says:

    LaRoche’s sense of entitlement is beyond belief. I hope he get’s what he deserves, which is not much!

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  5. Sean says:

    Did anyone seen Fan Graphs and WAR featured on SportsCenter this morning?! I nearly spit out my coffee. Perhaps mainstream sports media is about to turn the corner…

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    • Sean says:

      For some context: it was mentioned in reference to Holliday’s contract. The anchor spoke as if he was talking about some never-before-seen disease, but at least he mentioned it. That’s progress in my book.

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  6. Paul says:

    The most interesting thing about the offer is that they do in fact have in-house candidates – at least ones comparable to LaRoche – who would cost them ~ 10% of LaRoche. First is Ishikawa, who has no bat but great defense. Second is Bowker, who has much better offensive potential and can play a decent 1B. Both of them probably need to be platooned. And that’s where Jesus Guzman comes in. A platoon of Ishikawa/Guzman or Bowker/Guzman, or just Guzman alone is roughly comparable to LaRoche, especially since he is a complete zero for the fist two months of the season. The Giants worrying about 1B when there are multiple options for them to improve in areas where they have no viable in-house options is staggering. Then again, watch them overpay a 1B and deal one of those in-house guys for a top Royals pitching prospect.

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  7. BX says:

    It’s never an offseason without a stroke of Brian Sabean “genius.”

    Although this time LaRoche and his agent out-geniused him.

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  8. Gina says:

    He’s probably waiting on that 2/20 offer with an 8 million 3rd year vesting option from Omar.

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  9. DWrek says:

    Its probably off the table b/c they signed DeRosa. Though they could move DeRo to the OF as well.

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  10. jpdtrmpt72 says:

    more likely dayton more commits 30 mil. to him

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  11. DickAlmighty says:

    1. Any system that projects Travis Ishikawa and Josh Phelps to be as productive as Adam Laroche is complete garbage. LaRoche is a consistent 25 HR, 275/350/500 producer. Josh Phelps and Travis Ishikawa couldn’t put up those numbers combined. In two seasons.

    2. LaRoche is 30, which is why he should be getting better (and longer) offers than Troy Glaus (34), Bobby Abreu (36), and Hideki Matsui (59?). Come on!! You can’t simply compare offers between players of vastly different “baseball ages” as if they’re all exactly the same. That’s bad analysis.

    In my opinion, Laroche can (and should) ask for more from the Giants. They need him — he’d give them a lefty bat for the middle of their order (they are very righty-heavy), he’d allow them to leave Sandoval at 3B, move DeRosa to LF (where his glove plays better), and get Velez out of their lineup (with his measly OBP). And, LaRoche turns the Giants from competitive in the NL West, to probably the favorite in the NL West (even if he’s only a “two-win” player, he’s probably a three or four win improvement on Ishikawa, who should rate as a “two-loss” player). Since a playoff appearance generally nets a team about $30 million in future revenues, I think LaRoche should start around there: “With me, your a playoff team. Without me, you’re one of three teams competing for the NL West. Give me my $30 million for three years.”

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    • Paul says:

      Both Bill James and CHONE project Ishikawa at > .330 wOBA. Laroche is at ~.350, which was is about where his wOBA has been for years. However, last season the BB% jumped – due to a striking number of IBBs that will not be repeated – and he had a career high BABIP. His UZR has been below average all but one season including last year. I’m not the biggest fan of the WAR salary valuations, but 1 win at best is not worth 8 million. They could easily add a 1 win relief pitcher for less than half that.

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      • giantsrainman says:

        Ishikawa’s Chone Projection Of .330 wOBA is laughable. He isn’t that young so what is the basis for projecting this much improvement? The tendency of so many here in the blogisphere to believe projection systems rather then the decisions of MLB executives with all the resources available to them that we do not have just shows that many here in the blogisphere have as far to go to reach reality as do those that ignore sabermetrics.

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      • DickAlmighty says:

        Giants Rain Man —
        Could not agree more.

        1. Ishikawa’s projection is ridiculous. No basis.

        2. This heavy, heavy reliance, and the precise “win values” and “dollar values,” based on projection systems has gotten out of hand. Projection systems are not precise. They’re far from it. Baseball HQ, one of the many projection systems out there, readily acknowledges that it’s only about 60-70% accurate on its projections. And, no one does better.

        And yet, based on these projection systems, you have people saying things like LaRoche projects as a 1.9 WAR player, which means he’s worth 1.9 * $3.5M per win, and carry the one, and ta-dow: Laroche is worth $X. Try to remember — these projections are nothing more than educated guesses about future events. You cannot predict with accuracy exactly what LaRoche’s production will be, which means you cannot place an exact value on LaRoche’s future services… This is not an exact science. It should not be treated as such.

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      • wobatus says:

        Laroche has wOBA’d .357, .357, .346 and .379 going backwards last 4 years. CHONE has him at .343.

        I don’t disagree overall.

        I would take anyone for half a year and then go find Laroche for his annual second half .900 SLOB.

        Career 1st half ops .773, 2nd half .909 (.300/.363/.546).

        Last 4 years his 2nd half much better than his first half:

        2006 2nd half ops 1.042
        2007 .854
        2008 .975
        2009 .915

        Man, someone force this guy to show up a month early to spring training, give him a space heater in the dugout for spring games, or something.

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  12. My theory is still in play: Sabean was thinking he could always flip LaRoche to Atlanta at the deadline for prospects.

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    • MBD says:

      Nice! But I really hope this Glaus bridge to Freemanland shows that Wren has learned his (and Schuerholz’s) lesson.

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  13. standuptriple says:

    Once they signed DeRosa and especially Uribe I can’t believe any offer for LaRoche would be available. They’re going to move Sandoval to 1B full time or mix and match with what they have.

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  14. Ben George says:

    My theory is that Laroche just falt out does not want to play in SF. It is not a huge assumption to make. He grew up in Kansas, went to JC in OK, played in Pit and Atlanta and his parents and family still live in Kansas.

    Maybe he just wants to play closer to home, or at least somewhere in the East or Central timezones.

    I think to many times we forget the human component in all of this. It might be ridiculous financially to down such a deal, but finances are only part of the equation.

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    • DWrek says:

      No out of the question, but San Fran? Awesome city, great ball park, and the orginization has a lot of tradition. Would seem odd to me.

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      • Gamesix says:

        DWrek- you’re forgetting about all TEH GHEYZ!!

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      • Bhaakon says:

        It’s not a great park if you’re a left-handed power hitter not named Bonds. LaRoche’s marketability (and the reason Sabean was willing to pay) is largely tied to his OMG, Dingerz!, if he goes to SF and suddenly struggles to reach 20 HR, he’s got nothing to sell himself with.

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    • DickAlmighty says:

      Agree. Guys make decisions on factors other than (1) money, and (2) ballclubs. Lots of guys don’t want to play on the West Coast because their families are back East. Can’t fault a guy for taking total control of where he works when he finally reaches free agency (after all, up until then, baseball players, unlike the rest of us, have no choice in where they end up).

      Also, I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, but CA has astronomically high state income taxes. Not that LaRoche has a ton to worry about; but, if you make $7-8 million a year, the difference between playing in CA and playing in FL can be around $400,000, which is nothing to sneeze at (especially when you only make big money for 4-5 years in your entire life).

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  15. ElJimador says:

    There’s no point talking about projections to the Giants’ front office. You might as well be speaking in Swahili. This is a team that announced yesterday that even if they don’t sign anyone else, Uribe is going to be starting at 3B over Ishikawa or any other in-house options they have for 1B, with Sandoval to move across the diamond. So using CHONE projections we can now track the Giants’ hot pursuit of a corner infield upgrade this offseason as such.

    First were the holdover 1Bs:
    Garko: .268/.343/.438 (.781 ops), and
    Ishikawa: .261/.329/.433 (.762 ops)

    Then Garko was non-tendered and Ishikawa was replaced by the Giants’ new signing who was to be the 3B:
    DeRosa: .263/.343/.415 (.758 ops)

    Who was subsequently pencilled into LF instead once the Giants re-signed yet another 30+ year old utility player to start at 3B instead:
    Uribe: .257/.304/.421 (.725 ops)

    Projections? Don’t make Sabean laugh. You see DeRosa and Uribe are both “proven veterans”, either one of which might hit 20 home runs, therefore they are automatically better and if your fancy projections don’t tell you that then they are stupid.

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    • giantsrainman says:

      DeRosa was signed to be Randy Winn’s replacement in the outfield (with the ability to play the infield if needed) and as such is an upgrade. Uribe is just a backup plan as a starter if the Giants can’t find the left handed bat they seek (say Adam LaRoche). Uribe was re-signed for the same super utility role he played last year if they do find the desired left handed bat.

      I like Ryan Garko as a platoon player against lefties but expecting him to maintain his prior level wOBA that he achieved with a higher then normal percentage of ABs against lefties in a starter role when this percentage is reduced is ridiculous. To me Chone’s projections for Ishikawa are just too high. Like many projection systems Chone is poor at foreseeing who is actually going to breakout and instead over projects most unproven players to approach average (like Ishikawa) to compensate for the true breakouts they miss (like Sandoval last year).

      Finally with regards to Adam LaRoche, what logical justification can there be to accept a projection that sees a 30 year old seasonal aged 1B decline from a 2.4 WAR player last year and a 2.225 WAR/YR player over the last four years to just a 1.2 WAR player this year? This projection is just not believable.

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      • ElJimador says:

        DeRosa was originally pencilled in at 3B. Every report from the negotiation/rumor phase through the official rollout said that he was to be the 3B primarily with Sandoval moving over. I don’t mind him in LF since that’s where he should have been slated all along, but that’s not how he was introduced. If it had been people might have fairly asked why didn’t the Giants just sign an OF instead?

        And while I respect your caveats about CHONE’s reliance on MLEs when it comes to their projections for younger players, I doubt there is any system that would project Uribe and his career .298 OBP as the better hitter in 2010 just because he had a career year last year (especially since it owed primarily to a BABIP that was 40 points higher than his career BABIP).

        The point here is that Uribe should not be the backup plan, and he certainly isn’t good enough to close the door on Ishikawa and Bowker even having any chance to compete for the starting job absent another signing to come. But that’s exactly what the just Giants said in the conference call yesterday.

        It’s the cult of the “proven veteran”, again.

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  16. giantsrainman says:


    What was guessed in the press with regards to DeRosa’s role with the Giants frankly just does not matter.

    When the Giants announced his signing to the press they made it clear that he was signed to start with the position to be determined by who else got signed later and to perhaps vary from game to game. Nowhere did the Giants say they signed him to be the starting 3B and to thus move Sandoval to 1B. In fact the specifically said that they still expected Sandoval to play alot of 3B.

    When I stated that he was signed to replace Winn I did not mean that he was signed to be exclusively and outfielder. My intended meaning was that Winn was the departing starter that he would be replacing regardless of what position he played most or on any given day.

    Now to Uribe.

    You read too much into him being a backup plan to start at 3B if the desired lefthanded bat is not acquired. This does not mean at all that he is the only backup plan. Rather it just means that he is one backup plan and that this could end up being his role if his performance matches last year and the Giants do not acquire their desired lefthanded bat.

    Finally, I don’t believe any of this closes the door on Ishikawa or Bowker. Yes, Sabean did say that he did not see Ishikawa being the starter this year but he also previously said that he didn’t think Posey or Bumgarner were ready to assume starting roles either. If the Giants don’t acquire their desired lefthanded bat I would be shocked if Ishikawa and Bowker (and for that matter Schierholtz too) did not end up in the mix along with Uribe for this playing time.

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    • ElJimador says:


      “Conventional wisdom indicates that DeRosa, whose two-year, $12 million agreement with the Giants was officially announced Tuesday, will occupy third base while Pablo Sandoval moves to first.”

      - from the lead on the story that accompanied the official press release of the signing and was emailed by

      “DeRosa is an infielder who could become the Giants’ primary third baseman in 2010, which would shift Pablo Sandoval to first base. DeRosa can play anywhere on the infield and in left field.”

      - Giants beat writer Henry Schulman announcing the trade in the SF Chronicle

      Suffice to say that if the logic of signing DeRosa was to replace Randy Winn in the OF, the Giants did a great job of keeping that piece of information entirely to themselves.

      As for Ishikawa, it’s true the Giants have gone back and forth on whether Posey and Bumgarner are in the starting plans and could do so with Ish and Bowker too. I just wonder what the logic could be in flatly stating at this point that Ishikawa is not an option and leaving Uribe as the starter of the moment? The only explanation that makes sense to me is that they honestly believe Uribe is the better option, and so much so that they don’t see the point in even leaving the door open. Which suggests to me a serious problem when it comes to projecting player performance. They don’t seem to have any concept that young players typically improve until they reach their peak, and that a guy who had a career year due to an unusually high BABIP is an obvious candidate to regress back to his career norms.

      At the end of the year Giants fans received an email from Sabean’s office that said that one of the top priorities was improving team OBP. I remember it well because it’s exactly what I wanted to hear. Now after all this activity around improving this one corner infield spot (which probably wasn’t even the Giants’ greatest need to begin with) their plan of the moment to replace IshiGarko is (drumroll please)… a 30 year old utility infielder with a .298 career OBP.

      Even if Uribe is just a placeholder and there is another signing to come, to have arrived where they are now hardly gives me any confidence that it’s likely to be a good one.

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      • giantsrainman says:

        The “Conventional Wisdom” is just MLB.COM’s Giants beat writer Chris Haft stating his opinion. In your Henry Schulman quote from the SF Chronicle you must of somehow misread “could become the Giants’ primary third baseman” as “signed to be the Giants primary third basemen” . Here again Henry was stating his opinion (applying his conventional wisdom) just as Chris did in his article.

        Here is what Brian Sabean said in the actual “Official Press Release”:

        “We see Mark as a great fit for us as we’ve been looking to add offense and veteran presence to our team,” said Sabean. “He has proven that he can hit for power and drive in runs, while performing at a consistently high level during the pressure of a pennant chase. His ability to play multiple positions both in the infield and outfield provides Bruce Bochy an opportunity to get our best team on the field each given day.”

        In the press conference call Brian Sabean said “While we don’t know necessary where he is going to be on the field we know he is going to be in the lineup every day”. Try going back to Chris Haft’s article and click on the video link and find anywhere in it where anyone states that DeRosa will play mainly 3B with Pablo moving to 1B. You can’t because it does not exist.

        The Giants seem to have now settled on using Posey as the replacement for Molina in the lineup so logic would indicate to me that the departed starter from last year that is being replaced by DeRosa is Winn with the Upgrade from Ishikawa/Uribe that firmly places them both on the bench yet to come. Unlike you I still expect this to be a good add with Adam LaRoche as my best guess on who that good add will end up being.

        Finally, with regards to Uribe vs Ishikawa as the backup plan I do see your point. However these statements about their likely roles were made in conjunction with Uribe’s re-signing and not earlier. My guess would be that this was said because this understanding was part of the playing time agreement the Giants made with Uribe and his agent when they were negotiating his contract. I would also expect that they made it clear to Uribe that performance could change this if he regressed and Ishikawa progressed. Obviously the later was left out of the press release and conference call because there is no value in focusing on the negative thru the press.

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  17. Fergie348 says:

    Uribe was signed as a utility player, but he’s more like insurance against a two year tumble by Edgar Renteria or more injury weirdness from their new 2b, Freddy Sanchez. The Giants don’t have any MLB ready middle infielders who have proven they can hit a lick in the bigs. The thought that Uribe is an everyday player can only happen if – the Giants don’t get a left handed power bat, and if they keep waving 2/17 deals around for the likes of LaRoche it’s bound to happen at some point, or if Renteria doesn’t revert to his averages. We’ll know by May, and Uribe provides some relatively cheap insurance on that.

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  18. Fergie348 says:

    Ishikawa’s pitch recognition is horrible at this point, and he doesn’t have much time to figure it out. Bowker has the most compact swing I’ve ever seen, but he seemingly cannot make contact with breaking stuff thrown at his back foot, and he doesn’t lay off the inside slider so until he corrects that he’s a non factor.

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  19. Birdo says:

    Can you give a quick rundown of how you get to 3.5-4M per win? It looks like the top to mid level contracts are coming in at about that range but you can’t just ignore all of the ML deals given to bad players. Once you include Castro for 750K, Gload for 2/2.6, McDonald for 2/3, Baez for 2/5.25, Grabow for 2/7.5 don’t the numbers creep back towards the 4-4.4M range?

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