Toronto Buys Out Adam Lind

In the wake of Adam Lind‘s monster 2009 at the plate, the Toronto Blue Jays have signed him to a multi-year deal. In short, Lind (who will be 26 to start the season) is guaranteed $18 million from 2010-2013, with the Jays holding options for 2014-2016, which would have been Lind’s first three years of free agency.

At first blush, this is a good deal for the Jays. To spoil the ending: it is. But how good? Remember that players typically get less money in arbitration, and Lind wasn’t going to be arbitration eligible until after the 2010 season. In other words, for 2010, Toronto was going to have Lind for practically “free” (around league minimum). For the three arbitration seasons, a player is typically paid 40, 60, and 80 percent of what he would make on the free agent market. To comparing Lind to the free agent market scale, rather that assuming 4/18, we take the three arbitration years, and multiply the time by 0.4, 0.6, and 0.8 respectively, and evaluate this deal as if it were a 2/18 (for simplicities sake, we round 1.8 up to 2) deal in the current free agent market. Assuming a current market value of $3.5 million dollars per marginal win, a typical 0.5 win a season decline, and 7% per season salary inflation, a two year, $18 million dollar contract would be an average deal for a player that is currently 2.5 Wins Above Replacement.

In 2009, Lind put up 3.7 WAR. In general, cherrypicking one good (or bad) season as a “new standard” for any player is a bad idea for projections, and even worse for deciding whom to resign. That’s why we look to projection systems that take account of playing time, run environment, age, and so on, and I’ll also add in the Fan projections for that “personal touch.” Averaging Lind’s projected 2010 wOBA from CHONE (.368), ZiPS (.359), and the Fans (.383), we get .370, or about 24 runs above average per 700 plate appearances.

Lind is… not much of a defender, to put it kindly, and Toronto is aware of this, making him their primary designated hitter (although I’m disappointed we’ll miss out on the comedy an everyday outfield of Lind, Vernon Wells, and Travis Snider would have provided). But he’s done it before, so we don’t need to worry about it effecting his hitting too much.

Putting it all together: +24 offense -17.5 DH positional adjustmen + 25 AL replacement level all times 85% playing time = about a 2.7 WAR player. Given the level of imprecision we’re dealing with here, that’s pretty much right on as far as what we’d expect. Of course, Lind is only 26 (turning 27 in July), so perhaps he isn’t in for as much decline and/or attrition as is built in to the 0.5 WAR-a-season estimate. Perhaps, although Lind isn’t exactly a the type we’d expect to age gracefully. It’s safe to say that the guaranteed portion is a good, not great deal for the Jays, and fair for Lind as well. This only looks “great” or like a “steal” if it’s compared with the free agent market, but Lind wasn’t slated to reach free agency until 2014 . Team have lots of leverage with pre-arbitration players, and the Jays used it properly.

One might argue that the Jays got a “steal” because Lind will be an “exception” to the projections. I’m aware of the uncertainty in projections. But while some professional and amateur scouts may be able to can pick the exceptions amidst uncertainty, I can’t, and I’ll leave that sort of thing to those who can.

What makes this deal even better, though, are the club options tacked on for what would have been Lind’s first three free agent years (2014-2016). They are worth about $7.5M annually (not counting the buyouts). I’ve said that it isn’t a good idea to bet on Lind being an “exception,” and by 2014 he’ll be entering his thirties. Guaranteeing something substantial five years down the road to most players, especially those who couldn’t run or play the field in their their mid-20s is, to say the least, not a good idea. But the Jays haven’t. When I look at the projections, and assume an average aging curve, I think it’s about even money, that Lind will be worth keeping around in 2014. But the Jays haven’t guaranteed him anything beyond a reasonable buyout for 2014. If he does turn out to age well in his late-20s, and is still going strong, the Jays can keep him on at a great price. If not, they can let him go. That’s what makes this deal decent now, but potentially great later.



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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


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pfisher518
Member
pfisher518
6 years 1 month ago

I’m just wondering why a .5 win per season decline is built into the value of such a young player? I could be misunderstanding something….

fire jerry manuel
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

projection systems + young players with pedigree = problems

Will
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

I wonder if, with the market being what it is now, there’s less value in deals like this than there once was. Lind isn’t an elite player. I think I’d rather let him play cheaply and unhappily, do the arb thing, and then let him walk. You don’t build around a DH.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 1 month ago

Good sign, in my opinion.

Adam M
Guest
Adam M
6 years 1 month ago

Couldn’t you value you this properly by using option theory or some type of decision tree analysis? I think those team options at such a reasonable salary make this a great deal.

Fresh Hops
Guest
Fresh Hops
6 years 1 month ago

Why is Lind the sort of player we “Wouldn’t expect to age gracefully?” He strikes me as just the opposite.

In 2007 Lind was BA’s 39th overall prospect, which sandwiched him neatly between Joey Votto (43) and Hunter Pence (38).

In 2009 Lind crushed the ball. He did that while posting a contact rate 2% better than league average, and a full 10% better on pitches out of the zone. His z-contact was exactly league average. His contact skills in 2009 are pretty much in line with his career numbers. His zone judgement is not elite, but it’s just about league average. He swung just a little less (~1%) than league average.

Lind’s biggest improvement in 2009 was to stop swinging at pitches out of the zone. If anything, this is the sort of skill one expects players to develop as they age and it’s one that does not typically go away.

Lind is not Mark Reynolds. His strike out rate was 2% better than league average, his walk rate was in 2009 was 0.0% different from league average and he was 90th percentile power.

Lind looks to me like a player that could hit well through his early thirties, especially if he continues to improve his walk rate (something players are known to do as they age.)

Lind is a very good hitter and it’s not out of the question that he repeats 2009 this year. If he does, he would get $5 or $6 million in arbitration, and the Jays would be liable for another big increase in 2012. Lind could be a league average fielder at 1B with a little work. Anyway, I think that this would be a good deal if Lind exactly met the projection that you offer, and I think you’ve too greatly discounted his potential to hit a lot better.

John
Guest
John
6 years 1 month ago

“For the three arbitration seasons, a player is typically paid 40, 60, and 80 percent of what he would make on the free agent market. To comparing Lind to the free agent market scale, rather that assuming 4/18, we take the three arbitration years, and multiply the time by 0.4, 0.6, and 0.8 respectively, and evaluate this deal as if it were a 2/18 (for simplicities sake, we round 1.8 up to 2) deal in the current free agent market. Assuming a current market value of $3.5 million dollars per marginal win, a typical 0.5 win a season decline, and 7% per season salary inflation, a two year, $18 million dollar contract would be an average deal for a player that is currently 2.5 Wins Above Replacement.”

This is fairly opaque to me. Is this “two” year contract projecting him for 2.7 WAR the first year and 2.2 the next? If you adhere to the .5 wins attrition theory, Lind’s projected to be worth 2.2 wins in 2011 – his would-be first year of arbitration. Which means 1.7 the following year and 1.2 the year before he hits free agency. Of course this sounds ridiculous, as I don’t expect Lind to decline so abruptly at age 29.

Could you shed a bit of light onto our calculations? I’m genuinely interested in seeing them.

awayish
Guest
awayish
6 years 1 month ago

In order to compete in that division, teams like the jays need to have efficient wins coming out of every position. This is simply a solid move that gets them one step further towards competitiveness. We see deals like this more and more often from smart teams.

John
Guest
John
6 years 1 month ago

I heartily agree with your overall take. It’s a good to very good deal for the Jays, but not the blatant robbery that some members of the baseball punditry would lead you to believe. The Jays are essentially paying Lind what he’d have netted in arbitration (a shade north of $17 mil over three years). While the three years of controlled free agency at $7.5 mil per season is nice, we must remember that Lind’s a DH, and such specialized players aren’t going to break the bank on the open market.

Of course, this analysis is predicated upon Lind’s sustaining a 2.7 WAR level of production from ’11-’13.

air tightness test
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

hye …its good

exxrox
Member
exxrox
6 years 1 month ago

has anybody seen the comparisons to the Markakis deal over the same period? sure looks like robbery when considering that Lind already has a better year under his belt than Markakis..the defensive differences surely aren’t made up by the extra millions in salary

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