Pineiro and Free Agency

Perhaps more than any other free agent this winter, Joel Pineiro should be a fascinating case to watch. You probably know the story by now – journeyman with a checkered history buys into Dave Duncan‘s two-seam fastball plan, becomes an extreme groundball strike-thrower and, at age 30, has the best year of his career.

No one thinks he’s a 3.04 FIP guy going forward (his HR/FB rate will regress, of course, driving his FIP up with it), but his ZIPS projection from here on out has him as a 3.87 FIP guy, which is a well above average starting pitcher. But it’s also a very weird version of one – the strikeout rate is low even for an extreme sinkerball guy, and teams historically have rewarded pitchers for missing bats when it comes to handing out contracts.

Pineiro is going to hit free agency coming off a season where he pitched like Derek Lowe, but teams were reluctant to throw big money at Lowe last year and he had a 10 year track record of succeeding with this skillset. So, I don’t think he should be holding his breath waiting for the $15 million per season that Lowe got from Atlanta, but that raises the question of what, realistically, he should get?

If you believe that he’s really reinvented himself into being the new Aaron Cook, then you’re looking at Pineiro as a ~3 win pitcher, and that’s probably worth around $12 to $13 million per season on a two or three year deal. But how much confidence do you have in his ability to retain a good chunk of this year’s value, considering it’s a radical change from everything he’d ever done before.

There’s certainly more risk factors with Pineiro, so that will lead to a discount of some sort. But how much?

I honestly have no idea. Last year, Milton Bradley was the free agent who had a ton of positives and negatives on both sides, and he ended up at 3 years, $30 million. And that might look like a realistic target for Pineiro, except Kyle Lohse got 4 years, $41 million for posting an inferior season for the same team. Does Pineiro really take less than what Lohse got last winter? Will anyone really give him a 4 year deal?

I have no idea, honestly. Watching Pineiro navigate free agency, and seeing how teams view him, is going to be a lot of fun to watch.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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The Fonz
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The Fonz
6 years 10 months ago

Tell you what, though, he’s really picked up his K-rate lately; he may change a few minds if he keeps it up.

phildo
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phildo
6 years 10 months ago

last five starts is a solid sample size

azruavatar
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azruavatar
6 years 10 months ago

I’ll be interested to see how he performs next year away from the alleged Dave Duncan magic pixie dust.

Also, the department of redundancy department called with you’re writing award for best concluding sentence. [/joking]

Davidceisen
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Davidceisen
6 years 10 months ago

I’ll be interested in seeing how well he performs next year when he is away from Dave Duncan’s alleged magic pixie dust.

Also, the Department of Redundancy called with your writing award for best concluding sentence [/joking] [/fixed]

rw23
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rw23
6 years 10 months ago

Not fixed. The extra “department” is the joke.

DavidCEisen
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DavidCEisen
6 years 10 months ago

Yeah I went back and forth on whether or not to include the extra redundancy–but then I decided that it wasn’t funny, so I left it out.

JMHawkins
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JMHawkins
6 years 10 months ago

Pineiro really seems like the poster child for an incentive laden contract, but then honestly you could say that about anybody. Are there CBA rules against certain types of incentive clauses? Could someone offer him a deal that pays bonuses based on FIP?

Jacob Jackson
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Jacob Jackson
6 years 10 months ago

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the CBA prevents these types of bonuses. Bonuses can be awarded for health (games pitched, plate appearances), and for longevity (which I guess is why it’s ok that A-Rod has incentives for his homerun milestones).

Anyone confirm?

Mark
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Mark
6 years 10 months ago

@azruavatar: Always triple-check your grammar when correcting someone =p

Teej
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Teej
6 years 10 months ago

Take out the extra “department,” and you’re taking out the joke.

PhillyPhantastico
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PhillyPhantastico
6 years 10 months ago

I thought the joke was the “you’re”. I never get grammar jokes.

Teej
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Teej
6 years 10 months ago

Ah, I see. Missed that.

azruavatar
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azruavatar
6 years 10 months ago

Eh — If I was correcting for more than a joke I’d care. Not so much this way. And it’s more a stylistic thing than actual grammar.

seamariners85
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seamariners85
6 years 10 months ago

I don’t think the proper use of “your” and “you’re” is a stylistic ‘thing.’

aj
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aj
6 years 10 months ago

It only takes one dumb GM.

It’s certainly true that one-year wonders have gotten big contracts in the past. Pavano, Matt Clement. Carlos Silva had one good season followed by a 5.94 ERA and THEN got a 4-year, 48 mil contract.

puck
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puck
6 years 10 months ago

Matt Clement was a one-yr wonder? What was 2002-2004?

Kevin B.
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Kevin B.
6 years 10 months ago

BTW, espn.com has an article up on Mark Reynolds that refers to FanGraphs and contact rates. This website must be incredibly mainstream or something.

Kevin B.
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Kevin B.
6 years 10 months ago

Although I think they failed at interpreting them…

rw23
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rw23
6 years 10 months ago

Crasnick refers to fangraphs routinely in his articles. I’m sure others will join soon enough.

Joe R
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Joe R
6 years 10 months ago

I officially like Crasnick after his ESPN chat today. Tons of noncrazy on there.

Perversely I enjoy Joe Morgan chats way more because the loony just keeps coming.

John
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John
6 years 10 months ago

“but that raises the question of what, realistically, he should get?”

I just wanted to say thanks for “raising” the question and not “begging” it.

FlimtotheFlam
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FlimtotheFlam
6 years 10 months ago

I think Pineiro will get paid this off season. More for the fact he has a track record of being healthy and having a great season this year. If you look at the next free agent class in regards to starting pitchers it is quite pathetic. Almost all the guys are high risk and high reward guys. All have injury issues besides Pineiro. I think the min he gets is 3 years/$30M

Ed Nelson
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Ed Nelson
6 years 10 months ago

Look at his his Pitch FX chart release point. He’s like a Swiss clock. Everything is always down, but when does come up in the zone the vast majority of the pitches are strikes because the better never sees it coming. He is the #1 example of a guy who does the absolute maximum with what he has available. If I was a GM I would be willing to take a chance.

Ed Nelson
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Ed Nelson
6 years 10 months ago

excuse me “batter”

MU789
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MU789
6 years 10 months ago

If they were “better” they would get more hits off him.

gnomez
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gnomez
6 years 10 months ago

There’s no way Lohse should’ve gotten the money he did. I’d actually prefer to see the Cards go after Pineiro than Holliday or DeRosa, and the way Pineiro’s looked all season, I could see his success continuing.

MetsFan
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MetsFan
6 years 10 months ago

My best guess is that DeRosa is looking at a 1/8 or 2/14 type of deal, which isn’t really comparable to what Dave is talking about for Pineiro. And Holliday should be looking at 4/60.

And with the talk of bad contracts given to starting pitchers, why isn’t my man Ollie getting any love? He deserves to be in the conversation

Nick
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6 years 10 months ago

Holliday for 4/60? I’ll take the over on that ;)

Shannon
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Shannon
6 years 10 months ago

You mean the Ollie of the 5.93 FIP and 1.11 K/BB? That Ollie?

Nick
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6 years 10 months ago

It’s over 1 now? Impressive, I didn’t think he had it in him.

BobbyRoberto
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BobbyRoberto
6 years 10 months ago

Piniero has had a slick year so far, definitely nothing to spit at. With Dave Duncan’s help, Pineiro looks like he’s greased the skids for a nice payday.

puck
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puck
6 years 10 months ago

It will be an interesting hot stove league for pitchers. There’s a lot of FA’s who’ve had injury issues (like Harden). The healthier guys OTOH, are not the elite types (Washburn, Marquis, Davis, Pineiro); Lackey’s perhaps the closest (though I’m not clear on what his injury was).

maqman
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maqman
6 years 7 months ago

I’s like to see him back in Seattle @ around 2/$20m or 3/$27M.

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