Another Day, Another Contract: Ubaldo Jimenez

More signings! More more more! We’re not even going to have a free agent market in the future because every player will get locked up through their age 30 season or beyond and with the rising intelligence of GMs across the league, the bottom will fall out of the market completely!

Okay, maybe not, but it’s not the most improbable thing that I will ever utter here. Anyways, on to today’s inking, Ubaldo Jimenez and the Colorado Rockies came to an agreement on at minimum a four-year deal with a pair of club options. If those are turned down, the deal covers Jimenez’s final two club-control years plus his first two arbitration years. The club options cover his final arbitration and first free agent year.

It is a little rare, though becoming less rare, to see long term contracts covering pre-arbitration years and we do not have a good framework like we have for the arbitration rewards, so for the time being, I am just going to assign those seasons a half million value. Therefore, the minimum of this contract, two club control and the first two arbitration years, adds up to one market year plus an additional one million dollars. If the club options are exercised then we add the final arbitration year (0.8) and a full market year, bringing the total market years to 2.8, still plus the additional million bucks.

In an effort to better visually display the projections, I put them all in a chart this time around, reproduced below. As I have mentioned, I have three main methods for coming up with pitcher projections: I take CHONE and Marcel straight from here at FanGraphs, and I complement those by looking at the pitcher’s tRA* from the past year from StatCorner to see if that indicates anything divergent to the other two.

In Ubaldo’s case, Marcel and CHONE form a bracket on projection between 2.3 and 3.1 wins for 2009. On the deal without the club options that means that a fair value deal, under the assumption of $4.5 million per win, would come in between $10.3 and $13.5 million, while the Rockies are actually on the hook for just $10 million. With the club options exercised, fair market would dictate $27 to $36 million while Colorado would be forced to pay just $22.75 million.

Add another data point that teams are continuing to get great deals in locking up their young talent and avoiding arbitration and getting a few market years in well.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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This trend is obviously growing. GMs are getting smart. By the time Jimenez is a free agent, GMs will actually be able to correct Jimenez’s stats for park factor and successfully evaluate his worth when he’s a free agent.