Rays Sign Burrell

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Rays are close to finalizing a two year, $16 million contract with Pat Burrell. He’ll fill their hole at DH and give them a right-handed power bat to fit into the middle of their line-up and provide some offensive depth.

For Burrell, I’m pretty sure this is not what he had in mind heading into the winter. He made $14 million last season in the final year of a six year, $50 million contract, so he’s taking about a 43 percent pay cut and handing in his outfielder’s glove in order to get a full time job with a contender. The reshaping of this free agent economy is certainly going to be humbling for some players, especially outfielders with poor defensive abilities.

From Tampa’s perspective, they have to be pretty happy with how things have worked out. Always on a budget, they couldn’t break the bank for a true all-star caliber player, but needed to add another quality position player to try to stay ahead of Boston and New York. Is Burrell that player?

Over the last four years, he’s been pretty consistent offensively, posting park adjusted batting of +28, +21, +26, and +25 runs. Despite hot and cold streaks, Burrell’s generated similar offensive value in each of the last four seasons. By signing him up to DH, the Rays are removing the defensive penalty he brought to the field. It’s really the best fit for Burrell at this point in his career, and makes him fairly easy to evaluate going forward, as we won’t have to deal with the uncertainty surrounding defensive performance.

If we project Burrell as a +18 run hitter compared to league average (as Marcel does), that’s almost an exact fit for the -17.5 run position adjustment that comes with being a full time DH. Even with expected age related decline, Burrell’s going to be an average major league player. He should be worth right around two wins above a replacement level player.

Those two wins cost the Rays $8 million per year, or $4 million per win. This just continues the trend we’ve seen this off-season, as this shapes up to be the best buyer’s market in recent history. Based on his +2 win projection, we’d have expected Burrell to get something like 3 years and $30 million if this was a normal off-season, but the economy forced him to sign for a discount in order to solidify a job with a winner.

For only about $5 million more than they spent on Cliff Floyd in 2008, the Rays are able to add a power/patience bat to their line-up that should fit in well with their offense for 2009 and 2010. With the DH hole filled, it’s fair to say that the Rays have an average or better player at every single position on their roster right now. A very good team just got a little bit better.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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drew
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drew

How much will the move from Citizens to Tropicana hurt Burrells production?

snepp
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snepp

I would say minimal. I believe his home/road production was very similar.

fili
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fili

I’d say less than minimal

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor

Offense is down around 85% in the Trop compared to Citizens. Plus the move to the tougher league…

Evan
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Evan

Not to mention how absurdly deep the pitching is in the AL East.

Sky
Guest

ESPN’s park factors are at least calculated correctly on a year-by-year basis, no? I’ve had more issues with B-Ref’s numbers.

Moving from a hitter-friendly park in the NL to a pretty neutral one in the AL will definitely bring down Burrell’s raw stats. But that’s why you should use park-neutral numbers all along…

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