About that Verlander contract

In a world without substantial baseball news, the fact that Justin Verlander hasn’t inked a deal yet is garnering some attention. When the two sides submitted their numbers to the arbitrator, they were about a million dollars a part (Verlander wants $4.15 and the Tigers offered $3.2). The Tigers have never had an arbitration hearing under Dave Dombrowski, but that possibility is increasing with the hearing date set for February 13th.So what should Verlander get paid?
Continue reading About that Verlander contract

The Newest Tiger is Brandon Lyon

The Tigers will formally announce the signing of Brandon Lyon on Saturday. Terms are not immediately available but it is likely a one or two year contract. Lyon isn’t necessarily being handed the closers position, but he will definitely have a shot to claim it.

UPDATE 2:49 The deal is one year and $4.25 million with another half million in incentives. Eddie Bonine was DFA’d to make room on the 40 man roster

Lyon served as the Diamondbacks closer for the first half of 2008 before losing the job. The ERA and WHIP weren’t impressive last year, but there are a couple of quirks at play. First was a very high .355 BABIP. The second, and likely the reason for the first, is he was tremendously unlucky on ground balls. Last year 13.4% of the ground balls he allowed resulted in infield hits. To provide some context, Ichiro Suzuki has a career 12.2% mark. Suffice it to say that it was abnormally high and likely to correct itself.

The high BABIP resulted in an ERA a nearly a run higher than his FIP.

Detroit Tiger Tales also points out his clean outing rate. Even in 2008, it was higher than every current Tiger reliever other than Clay Rapada and it compares favorably to Trevor Hoffman, Takashi Saito, and Juan Cruz.

I don’t know that Brandon Lyon is the savior at closer, but the signing demonstrably improves the bullpen provided his second half struggles in 2008 were not the result of some sort of injury that could carry over to 2009.

Tigers get 4 under contract

The Tigers inked 4 of the 5 arbitration eligible players today. Gerald Laird ($2.8), Edwin Jackson ($2.2), Bobby Seay ($1.1) and Joel Zumaya ($733,000) are all in the fold. Missing from that list is Justin Verlander.

Verlander is the only one of the group likely to be in the mix for a long term deal. It’s also something he may not be eager to sign in the worst offseason for contracts in recent memory, and coming off a season when his numbers were down.

Verlander and the Tigers exchanged numbers and Detroit is offering $3.2 while Verlander is asking for $4.15. It’s a very manageable difference and I’ll guess they settle somewhere around $3.8.

I have updated the salary chart and the team looks to be at about $117 million at the moment.

Tigers ink four, ponder Verlander terms | tigers.com: News

Tigers sign Thames and Rodney

The Tigers signed Marcus Thames and Fernando Rodney to one year deals. Both were arbitration eligible. Terms weren’t disclosed, but I’ll guess that Thames gets $1.8 million and Rodney gets $2.1 million. It looks like Rodney gets $2.7 million.

That leaves Gerald Laird, Edwin Jackson, Justin Verlander, Joel Zumaya, and Bobby Seay as the arbitration eligible players left to be signed. The Tigers have not gone to arbitration with a player since Dave Dombrowski took over.

Prices are dropping, but will it matter?

Buster Olney weighs in on how the economy is impacting team spending:

Throughout baseball, budgets are being downsized from week to week to reflect the latest read on the economy, and what you are about to see — once the smoke clears from the Sabathia and Burnett and Teixeira news conferences — is a stunning drop in salaries for the free agents, a time when solid veteran players might be fortunate to get one-year offers for $5 million to $8 million. General managers throughout the game are reporting, on background, that their payrolls are being locked down, cut down, slashed.

It’s a topic that I’ve speculated on (mostly in the video chats) as it relates to the Tigers. Before the global recession hammered the Big 3 and they had to go looking to the government for money, Dave Dombrowski said he was looking at a payroll in line with last year. But with a dip in attendance that could likely go beyond the slippage due to the team’s disappointing 2008, plus a potential loss of GM sponsorship money, the Tigers could be in a different mindset.

Did they save money on the Adam Everett, Gerald Laird, and Matt Treanor deals, or were they spending what they had to spend? Was Edwin Jackson acquired because $3 million is all they have to invest in the rotation?

With $105 million committed to 14 players, and a likely $9-10 million committed to Fernando Rodney, Marcus Thames, Gerald Laird, Edwin Jackson, and Bobby Seay, That leaves about $15-$20 million to cover Justin Verlander*, 4 guys earning the minimum, and an upgrade to the bullpen. Plus I don’t know if Renteria’s $3 million buyout counts against the total.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that as Olney points out, prices are dropping. And for those worried about the Tigers lack of moves in the bullpen, it isn’t a cause for concern yet. It’s still a buyers market with Brian Fuentes, Trevor Hoffman, Brandon Lyon, and Juan Cruz available. Fuentes and Cruz are undesirable due to the cost of second round draft picks. But as a group there are 4 arms, 3 of which should be in the Tigers price range, and all of which would be an upgrade.

Now if the calendar flips to February, and the four aforementioned guys are packing bags for other destinations, then I’ll join you in being uneasy about a bullpen made up of last year’s incumbents, Casey Fien, and the draft class of 2008.

THE CONTRACT is official

It’s kind of anti-climactic at this point, but the Miguel Cabrera deal has officially been announced. The deal is for 7 years and $141 million beyond the 1 year deal he signed for 2008.

As speculated correctly here (I’m so rarely right I feel the need to claim it), $15 million is due in 2009. The Freep has the breakdown of the remaining years which range from $20 to $22 million a year. I’ve updated the Payroll page to reflect this. It is worth noting that the Tigers have $114 million committed to 13 players (including Porcello and a Renteria option) in 2009 and $94 million committed in 2010. This team is built to win for the next 3 years.

There is what the Freep deemed a limited no trade clause. It’s described as the Tigers being able to trade Cabrera to 10 teams without his permission. I’d call that partial instead of limited, but that’s semantics.

In a separate article the Freep detailed that had the deal not been done now, it might not have gotten done at all. Certainly not at the same price anyways. Cabrera wasn’t going to negotiate during the season, and had he waited until next offseason, free agency would have only been one year away.

As for the whether or not it was a good deal, it’s being praised by those who crunch the numbers.

Junkballing: Almost too much to link to

A flurry of link worthy items, plus just being behind in general leads to the mother of all link round-ups:

Injuries – left handed pitcher edition

Bless You Boys picked up a Buster Olney report that scouts were speculating that Dontrelle Willis may be injured. That could certainly be part of his control problems. Then again, Willis has battled increasing control issues the last couple years so it may be a continuation of a trend. But it sounded like Tigers scouts were confident that the problem had been licked. But what if it isn’t?

Assignable cause is always nice when trying to identify shifts in output (I’m an industrial engineer by trade). Usually if you can find the assignable cause and fix it. But in this case fixing it may mean rest & rehab or even surgery if there is an elbow problem.

Big League Stew has some more. Well, not much more but I like BLS and there’s a cool picture.

Things aren’t going well for Clay Rapada either who is experiencing more soreness.

Injury news – right handed pitching edition

Fernando Rodney was examined by the team orthopod and no structural damage was found and he will resume throwing. That’s the good news portion of this update.

Injury news – blogging center fielder subsection

Let’s hope Granderson heals as fast as he gets out of the box for triples. The mending time is estimated to be really quick where he only misses the first week (via John Fuller, his publicist/manager type guy) or it could be a month if Chone Figgins can be used as a comp. While he could probably start swinging the bat right away, it will likely effect his grip strength. And man, I’d imagine hitting in cold weather would be especially painful.

In his stead
Edgar Renteria will leadoff and Brandon Inge will manner center field – at least initially. I have a felling there will be some mixing and matching with Ryan Raburn perhaps getting some extra at-bats as well.

Interviews

Speaking of Granderson, The Grandy Report was able to interview him last week. It turns out Granderson’s favorite subject was math. I wonder if he’s a saber?

Also, Dontrelle Willis got together with Ryan Howard and David Wright during a Topps shoot. Willis grabbed the mike and conducted the interviews himself. This interview keeps getting taken down, so catch it while you can.

THE CONTRACT

I think it’s only appropriate that THE TRADE spurred THE CONTRACT. There is little new news about THE CONTRACT except that it is a 7 year extension as I had speculated initially. My guess on how it breaks out is $15 million in 2009 and then $21 million in each of 2010-2015. It hasn’t been officially announced, but it hasn’t been denied. And Cabrera’s Dad seemed to confirm it to a Venezuelan newspaper. (translation via Google)

“We were expecting this contract,” said Cabrera Navas. “There were two very important things for him to accept the deal: first, that there are other Venezuelans, as Magglio (OrdoƱez) and Carlos (Guillen), and second, that we have a good chance to win and go to a World Series.”

The story also said that there are incentives for MVPs, All Star Games, and the like.

Mack Avenue Tigers beat me to the punch and rounded up the opinions on the valuation of the deal. The opinions vary greatly. I’m still sticking with my initial feelings that it is a pretty fair valuation for both sides. In terms of Cabrera’s actual value it seems fair. In terms of Cabrera’s perceived value it appears to be favorable for the club.

Leftovers

Finally wrapping this thing up we look to the Marlins who decided to send Cameron Maybin to the minors for more seasoning. Probably a good move and Maybin will probably still be the starting centerfielder by the end of the year. But Jair Jurrjens locked up a spot in the rotation after a strong spring.

And lastly, Brennan Boesch had some bathroom problems today.

Reports: Tigers sign Cabrera to $153 million contract

cabrera.jpg
credit Roger DeWitt

ESPN.com is reporting that Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers have agreed to an 8 year contract totaling $153.3 million. The deal is to be announced Monday pending a physical.

This is of course the biggest deal in franchise history, and it’s befitting a franchise caliber player. Locking Cabrera up long term was no doubt a priority from the moment THE TRADE was completed back in early December.

We’ll have to wait for the details of course, but I’d assume that this contract supplants the one year deal signed in January. Meaning that Cabrera will be donning the English D through 2015. So the Tigers lock up one of the premier hitters in the game for his age 25-32 seasons. What’s not to like?

If it is in fact replacing the existing deal, or essentially a 7 year extension on the $11.3 million he’s going to make this year, then it is $20 million per year from 2009 on. The chances of him reaching $20 million in 2009, the last year of arbitration, are small. Cabrera would probably be in line for something around $14-15 million next year. But even if they are paying more in ’09 it still looks to be a solid deal in aggregate.

Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA system only projects out 7 years, but for each of those years Cabrera projects to be a $20 million a year player according to the BP metric MORP. Tom Tango’s salary chart reveals that an 8 year – $151 million contract implies 5 wins above replacement. BP sees Cabrera as more than 5.3 wins above replacement through 2014. I don’t trust BP’s defensive metrics though and would probably discount their WARP total accordingly.

Also, the BP method of WARP differs from the method that Tango employs. His methods can be found in the comments here. I tried to follow them (could have botched them as well) and pegged Cabrera between 4.5 to 5 wins above replacement. So depending on the methodology the numbers say the deal is either reasonable/slight overpay or quite fair.

The one thing that the pure WARP numbers don’t extrapolate is the impact of having a player with extraordinary superstar abilities. The wins and losses are accounted for, but not the good will built with the fan base for securing a player of that magnitude. Or the potential revenue associated with having a hall of fame quality hitter through the prime of his career.

Committing that many years and dollars to any player is a little scary (look what happened to Juan Gonzalez). But if you’re going to do it, then do it with a 25 year old player who already has 4 years of offensive excellence under his belt.

Granderson gets multi-year deal

Buster Olney is reporting that Curtis Granderson has signed a multiyear contract. Terms weren’t not available. More to come later. (h/t Motown Sports)

UPDATE: It’s official. A five year deal with a club option for 2013. The Tigers buyout his arbitration years and first year of free agency. ESPN reports that the contract is for $30.25 million. Not sure on the option at this point. It’s a great deal for the Tigers. Again, more to come later.

Notes from the conference call

  • Dombrowski is thrilled and said it “is a great day for the Tigers organization.”
  • Granderson is excited to be a part of this (the team, the city) for a long time to come.
  • Granderson’s agent Matt Brown said that it was great dealing with John Westhoff and Dave Dombrowski. He also thanked Mike Ilitch for the confidence that he showed.
  • Granderson is excited and appreciative that it got done now, knowing that the Tigers didn’t have to make a move like this at this time (not being arb or FA eligible)
  • On the length of the contract and possibly foregoing bigger dollars, Granderson recognized that he got some security and that he doesn’t know what could happen over the next 5 years. Brown followed up and noted that in these types of situations the club is assuming all the risk, but that it’s a win for both sides because he’s at the top of the heap for pre-arbitration players.
  • Dombrowski said his willingness to do a long term deal was due to how good Granderson is. Plus, not being a pitcher Granderson doesn’t present as big of an injury risk. The skill and the make-up of Granderson along with his willingness to stay are what made it possible.
  • Granderson views the Tigers as a second family. Everything since he signed with the organization has been positive.
  • Curtis said his areas for improvement were hitting left handers more consistently, continuing to cut down and strike outs, and improving in the outfield. He’s sure he’ll have more things to focus on in 2009 and will learn by watching the veterans on the team.
  • Granderson’s plans for the evening are to pack to head down to spring training.
  • Dombrowski said the trades of Gorkys Hernandez and Cameron Maybin didn’t factor into the decision to lock up Curtis.
  • Granderson’ celebratory meal was a McDonald’s extra value meal plus a double cheeseburger off the dollar menu.

Analysis

There’s not much to analyze except to say “Yay!” Granderson on the open market is a $100 million player. Of course Granderson didn’t get “taken” on this deal because he isn’t eligible for the free agent market. The only leverage that Granderson has at this point is to say no to a long term contract. And being faced with $30 million or $500,000ish, it’s easy to see why he’d take the money and the security. Not to mention he is sticking with an organization that he likes, and figures to be a contender for a good chunk of his contract.

From the Tigers stand point, they take on the risk at this point. If Granderson’s career takes an unfortunate ending due to injury the Tigers are left holding the bag. In their favor though is the fact that even if Granderson is average they’ll still come out ahead. And when factoring in his defense (not to mention his work ethic and all his other qualities), he stands to be easily better than average. While being better than 2007 will be difficult (though not at all impossible), his future is still bright.

His projections for this year (Bill James, Marcel, Chone, PECOTA ZiPS) range from an OPS of 806 to 882. So he figures to be somewhere between good and really good. Plus he’s now locked up for his peak seasons with some very palatable cost certainty. The contract will pay Granderson $1 million this year, $3.5 million in 2009, $5.5 million in 2010, $8.25 million in 2011, and $10 million in 2012. Even the 2013 option is affordable at $13 million (with a $2 million buyout).

And then there is the off the field stuff. Normally “off-the-field-stuff” conjures up bad images. But Granderson is becoming the face of the franchise on a team with multiple All Stars and potential Hall of Famers. He’s entrenched himself in the community and been exceedingly accessible. He could be the next long term Tiger and as an unabashed fan I hope he is.

The contract is par for the course with the Tigers who are taking care of their own and locking up a team to make a run for the next several years. This deal pushes the team payroll over $133 million this year and $99 million in 2009 (with only 12 players signed).

Tigers sign Miguel Cabrera to one year deal

The AP is reporting that the Tigers inked Miguel Cabrera to a 1 year $11.3 million deal.

The team is of course trying to sign him to a long term deal, and I wouldn’t view this as an indication there are any problems on that front. This is a matter of taking care of arbitration business (Dombrowski just doesn’t do arbitration). I’d venture a guess that the two sides are still working on a long term extension.

Bobby Seay is the only arbitration eligible player not yet signed, but I think that gets taken care of quickly.

UPDATE: Bobby Seay’s deal was announced today also. A one year contract, terms undisclosed.

The Tigers payroll has now officially topped the $130 million mark.

Marcus Thames signs one year deal

The Tigers avoid arbitration with another player and agree to terms with Marcus Thames on a one year deal.

I’ll post details when I have them.

UPDATE: Beck says it is a $1.275 million deal which is right in line with expectations. Congrats to Marcus on becoming a millionaire. The Tigers only have Miguel Cabrera and Bobby Seay as the remaining unsigned arb-eligible players.

Robertson extended for 3 years

Nate RobertsonThe Tigers have signed Nate Robertson to a 3 year deal for $21.25 million. The Freep has the break down on the dollars.

Robertson will earn $4.25 million this year, $7 million in 2009 and $10 million in 2010. He would earn $11 million in the third year of the deal if he throws a combined 400 innings in 2008 and 2009 or 200 innings in 2009.

I’ll have more later.

Notes from the call

  • No Dombrowski on the call. He’s on his way to the owners meetings. John Westhoff spoke for the front office
  • Contract negotiations took place over the last 2 to 3 weeks
  • Club is happy that 4 of the 5 pitchers are under contract/control for the next 3 years and think it is important.
  • Nate’s excited to be on the best team he’s ever been part of, especially considering where they came from[2003].
  • Robertson scaled back on his off-season throwing to try and be fresher during the season.
  • It still hasn’t really hit him, a boy from a small town in Kansas, that he’s playing baseball and has a deal like this. He said it’s a humbling experience.
  • Apparently Nate has a reputation of being frugal, and when questioned it brought about much laughter. He retorted that he didn’t need a fancy car to feel good about himself.

It’s later

To me this is yet another deal in which the Tigers agree to a deal that seems to be very fair. Robertson is probably a slightly below average pitcher that accumulates at or around 200 innings per year. Not outstanding to be sure, but those types of guys are far from common as well.

The Tigers are buying out Robertson’s last two years or arbitration eligibility and his first year of free agency. The way the contract shakes out it looks like the Robertson is giving the team a break of about $1 million dollars this year, but it looks like he’ll get it back in the 3rd year of the contract. Inflation will likely make the $10 million look reasonable, but Robertson will be 3 years older at that point and probably won’t be as effective while being more of an injury risk.
Continue reading Robertson extended for 3 years