Maybe Cano Money Is Not Unreasonable for Heyward

Yesterday, Dave wrote an article about Jason Heyward’s next contract, and concluded with the idea that his next contract would almost definitely start with a two, and might even touch into the threes. When I suggested this to some of my friends they claimed that Heyward was not worth that price and completely disregarded the argument. This got me to thinking about what it would look like if we follow the projections.

After some great help from Neil and Jeff to get help with projections, I decided to try to tackle the question on my own. I started looking at Heyward’s WAR starting in 2016 (the first year of his next contract) and project that moving forward.

To start, I’m going to assume the value of a win next off-season will be roughly $6.3m ($6m this year with a 5 percent increase). Every year after that will go up by 5 percent through the end of the contract. Perhaps this isn’t the best way to go about this, but it is an idea that I have seen suggested several times.

After that, I went into the projections. Steamer projects Heyward to produce 4.4 wins next season, and (following the advice of Jeff and Neil), I assumed he would produce 4.4 wins every season from age-26 to 30 seasons, at which point I started taking a half-win off each following season until the tenth (and final) year of the proposed contract. In the end, Heyward projects to provide about 36.5 wins from 2016 to 2025.

Now that we have set up the parameters, we can get into the actual money of the deal. To find the value of each season I multiplied the WAR for an individual season by the dollars/WAR value for each season. Heyward’s value by season projects to go: $27.7m, $29.1m, $30.6m, $32.1m, $33.7m, $31.4m, $28.7m, $25.7m, $22.3m and $18.6m, for a total of $279.8 million over the ten seasons.

I know a lot of people are not quite as high on Heyward as I (and Steamer, apparently) am, so I also ran the numbers if Heyward produces 4 wins from 26-30, then a half-win less for each season after that. If that were to happen, Heyward would produce about 32.5 wins that would be valued at roughly $248 million.

Without assuming any breakout seasons, and even including the possibility that Heyward regresses a little before plateauing, he still projects to be worth over $225 million, and potentially in the neighborhood of $275 million without a breakout season in 2015. Heyward looks like he might be the guy that makes people realize that $200 million in today’s game isn’t what it used to be.



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Rick
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Rick

This article assumes that teams would pay him simply due to his WAR. I know that front offices use WAR in evaluating players, but what precedent is there for a contract like that given to a player whose value is mostly from defense and baserunning? I would be surprised if teams would be willing to pay a contract like that, simply based on WAR, for what is an average offensive player.

bmarkham
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bmarkham

1) Heyward isn’t average offensively
2) a worst player, Ellsbury, got a $153 million going into his age 30 season for 7 years

Blake
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Blake

Average offensive player? Heyward has produced 43.1 runs offensively over the last 3 years, and 42.4 runs defensively. Let’s not pretend like most of his value comes from defense/base running, when he ranks 61st out of 223 in wRAA among players with 1000 PA over the last 3 seasons.

Rick
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Rick

Of 18 qualifying right fielders in 2013-14, he is 10th in wRC+ and wOBA, and 9th in total offense (which includes base running). So yes, I’d say he’s about average for his position.

semperty
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semperty

Really? You’re calling a 1% difference declining? That’s a BIG stretch. I’m not saying he’ll turn into a star, but I think stretching things to fit your narrative is a little odd.

Rick
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Rick

His wRC+ and wOBA have declined each of the last two seasons. It would not shock me if he turns into the hitter he was always projected to be, but I just don’t see much reason to expect it at this point.

semperty
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semperty

I believe the “most teams” argument goes out the window when you start talking about certain teams – the Cardinals being one of them. They don’t do what “most teams” do, and haven’t for quite a while.

As for Heyward, his offensive value in 2012 and 2013 were nearly identical (in terms of rates), so I’m not sure what the argument is, there. His process might be different now than it was in 2012, but it’s not much different than 2013 – where he still got good results. This seems very results based, which seems like a poor evaluation process.

Rick
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Rick

I’m aware he was talking about league average, but I still believe most teams will expect to get offense out of their corner OF spots. I did not include 2012 because I’m not sure I believe anymore that he will be that type of hitter. His profile has changed. The last two years he’s improved his contact skills, but has lost power in doing so.

LeeTro
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LeeTro

Blake was talking about league average, not positional average, plus he included 2012 and you didn’t. Looking forward, projections are better to use, and he’s likely to hit better than he has the last couple seasons.

Also, your method of determining him to be average is questionable. You’re only including the players good enough to get 1000 PA over the past 2 seasons, which is why you don’t even have enough for every team. That’s like picking all the pitchers with at least 300 IP the past 2 seasons and saying the middle of that pack is league-average. It’s not that far off, but there is a clear bias in that group.

tz
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tz

Heywards career arc reminds me a lot of Adrian Beltre’s early career. Beltre’s value as a Dodger was pretty much all on the defensive side, except for his big 2004 season, and his offensive skills really didn’t take off until much later in his career.

Heyward, like Beltre, hit great in the minors and has done pretty well against major league pitching for a guy in his early 20’s. I think Heyward has a good chance to match Beltre’s 45 WAR over his age 26-35 seasons.

Or, getting back to the title of this article, I’d bet that Heyward will contribute more WAR in his age 26-35 seasons than Cano will have done in his age 31-40 seasons.

Steven
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Steven

That’s a really interesting comparison to think about. If Heyward has a breakout offensive year, it will be extremely interesting to see what kind of contract he will get.

Larry W
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Larry W

Youth is what will help Heyward get paid. I think it’s reasonable to imagine a 10-year deal happening, covering age 26 through 35 seasons. I don’t see him landing north of $25 million over that long a deal, there’s too much risk, even for a young player like Heyward. Maybe something along the lines of 10/220, frontloaded, maybe allow Heyward to opt-out halfway through.

semperty
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semperty

Why would you front load a deal and let the player opt-out?