Not the latest of the late term Spring Training extensions (see Matt Klaassen’s piece on Adam Lind), but one that threatens to slip through the weekend cracks. Scott Feldman inked an extension yesterday that bought out his arbitration years and gave the Rangers an option on his first free agent year (2013).
Once again, we have a contract that technically wipes out a previously agreed deal, Feldman’s contract for 2010, but actually calls for identical money in 2010 as the original deal. Feldman and the Rangers had already agreed to a $2.425 million salary this season to avoid his first year of arbitration. Feldman’s new deal calls for that same amount this year and then salaries of $4.4 million in 2011, $6.5 million in 2012 and come with a team option for $9.2 million in 2013 or a $600K buyout.
Feldman has been pretty unimpressive statistically until last season when he posted a roughly league average season over 183 innings in the rotation and 6.2 innings in the bullpen, no small feat. Feldman doesn’t miss bats all that well (6.5% compared to an 8.6% average last year) or find the zone all that well either (45.6% against league average of 49.4% in 2009). He was helped by an above average ground ball rate and a .275 BABIP and a little luck on home runs per fly balls, especially given his home park. Unsurprisingly, CHONE and the Fans are divergent on Feldman’s projections.
Even the fans see a regression to 2.2 wins in 2010 for Feldman. CHONE is a lot more bearish and clocks in at just under 1.4 wins. If you factor the 2010 salary into the new contract, then Feldman is being guaranteed 1.8 free market seasons for a total of just under $14 million (scenario 1) with an option to extend to 2.8 seasons at $22.5 million (scenario 2). If you disregard 2010 as already agreed upon, then this contract is worth 1.4 free market seasons for $11.5 million (scenario 3) or 2.4 seasons for $20.1 million (scenario 4).
Under all four scenarios, the Rangers are paying Feldman as if he is going to produce at a two-win level over the life of the deal. Based solely on his 2009 numbers, that’s a good deal for Texas. However, based on his projections, backed up by some middling core numbers, this is a reach for the Rangers.
Granted, it’s unlikely to blow up in their faces, but it’s also a deal that they could have avoided with little cost since Feldman was under club control anyways and they have seemed to secure no meaningful discount for granting Feldman some financial security. If Feldman declines at all (he’s already 27), then this quickly turns into a misstep by the Rangers.
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