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Ricky Romero Gets a Deal

With just 331 Major League innings under his belt, Ricky Romero has to be feeling quite pleased with his new contract, the largest ever given to a pitcher with his service time. The five-year deal begins in 2011 and so it buys out all of Romero’s arbitration years, one of his free agency seasons and even contains a club option on another. There is no solid word yet on the breakdown of the salaries, signing bonus or any information on the option. Still, we can offer a rough evaluation of the deal from just the 2011 through 2015 part.

Romero will finish his second year of service time in 2010 and would have been on a club-controlled contract for 2011. He would then be arbitration eligible for 2012, ’13 and ’14 and a free agent or 2015. Given the standard guide of 40%/60%/80% of market value expected for arbitration rulings, the five years of Romero’s contract add up to 2.8 seasons of free market worth plus one year at the league minimum. That is what Toronto and Romero are surrendering by not going year-to-year.

With a payment of $30.1 million guaranteed, that works out to the Jays paying Romero $10.75 million per market year. With current trends pegging the market dollars paid per win at around $4 million we have an estimation of about 2.75 to 3.0 wins per season for the contract’s middle point once we factor in the discount Romero should be offering for the security of a long-term deal.

Romero produced 2.7 WAR last season and is already at 3.4 this year so on the face of it, this looks like a possible win for the Blue Jays already. With just two seasons of data to judge with, we must be careful about sniffing out any possible regression however. Luckily for Toronto, there does not appear to be any red flags with Romero’s Major League numbers. His FIP is close to his xFIP and his BABIP and HR/FB rates are normal. He misses bats and gets ground balls giving him a safety net if his stuff diminishes over the course of the deal.

With the club option details unknown, I believe that if Romero can stay healthy, this contract is likely to end up being slightly favorable to Toronto. I don’t see Romero getting ripped off though, especially with so much uncertainty lingering in how future free agent markets are going to shape up. This is a fair deal to both sides.