Saturday, August 9, 2008

Value Of Some Current & Potentially Future O's

During the O's game a few days ago, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts, and player valuation in general. My points were that (1) Tex might not be worth as much as he'll get, but I'd still overpay a little (say, 4 years / $110 MM, which I doubt he'd accept anyway), (2) Brian Roberts is in the same situation (but even more extreme), though he may actually accept a little less to stay here (but probably not less by enough), (3) Adam Jones, if he never gets much better as a hitter (stays below league average) would still be worth quite a good deal and should be locked up on the super cheap sometime soon (buying out his team controlled years for $20-25 MM with a couple of team options for his first free-agency years would be a steal), and (4) Nick Markakis is really, really, really, awesome. I simply can not overstate how big of a mistake the O's made in not signing him long-term last year. (Actually I can - maybe $15 MM in extra costs to them for waiting a year. They're only going to have waited a year, right?) I like using Tom Tango's Wins Above Replacement system, since it's pretty simple but also does what I need it to do. Hitting, defense, position, and league difficulty are all taken into account.

(1) Mark Teixeira (adjusted from the post about his trade using better numbers for his defense) was an NL (+2) first-baseman (-1) with a very good glove (+1.5) and a big stick (+3.1). Adjusting for playing time, that means Tex is a 5 WAR player, which is worth about $22 MM this year. He's going to be 29 next year, and so after the first couple years of his next contract one can expect some decline from aging as he leaves his prime. To my utter amazement, he's actually worth (about) what he's asking. 4 years / $103 MM; 5 years / $127 MM; 6 years / $151 MM; 7 years / $172 MM; 8 years / $ 191 MM. In the crazy world of free agent contracts, those are all fairly reasonable deals. I still don't think it would be a great idea to sign him given where the team is (in last place), but if they could convince him to accept a little bit less to play in Baltimore then it might be OK.

(2) Brian Roberts is an AL (+2.5) second-baseman (+0) who has been up and down defensively, but is still around average (about +0, lets say) and is worth about 1.4 wins with the bat. That makes Roberts about a 3.5 WAR player, which is worth about $15.4 MM this year (while he's getting paid just $6.3 MM). Taking aging and salary increases into account, I have Roberts worth $14.5 MM in 2009 (he's set to make $8 MM), $13.3 MM in 2010, $11.7 MM in 2011, $9.7 MM in 2012, and $7.1 MM in 2013. He'll want around $15 MM annually based on his current play, but taking that out too far into the future would likely be problematic for the club. Having Roberts making $15+ MM in 2013 while only providing $7 MM in value makes it hard to have a competitive ball-club unless the organization is willing to lock young players up early (and cheaply), which they have shown isn't the case yet. I like Roberts a lot, but he may not even be a regular second baseman by the time his next deal is finished. The best option - the only real option that helps the club - is to trade Roberts for prospects, especially of the middle-infield variety.

(3) Adam Jones is an AL (+2.5) center-fielder (+0.5) who is good with the glove (+0.5) but not with the bat yet (-0.5). That's a a 2.5 WAR player at a young age, who's likely to improve. Even assuming he only gets very slightly better (maxing out as a league average hitter), his remaining team controlled years are worth about $83 MM. If he shows improvement next year, I would run to him with a contract with as many free-agency year team options as I could get. It's what the smarter clubs are doing these days. And if he becomes Torii Hunter, well... you get the idea.

(4) Nick Markakis is an AL (+2.5) right-fielder (-0.5) who plays good defense (+0.5) and is a very good hitter (+3). He is a 5 WAR player right now, which is worth about $22 MM. Assuming no improvements from his current level of play, giving Nick a 7 year / $140 MM deal is pretty defensible. In fact, it very well may be a good deal. Nick's wOBA has improved from .344 (already above average as a 22 year-old rookie) to .372 to .397 this year. If the team can sign him for 7 years / $70 MM then they should jump all over that - it's more than it would have cost a few months ago, but it's still a great deal. Interestingly, I think Nick could very well be as valuable as Roberts and Teixeira combined (in WAR) by 2013. Also of note (discovered by a member at Orioles Hangout) - since 1950, in a player's first 1600 at bats of his career (under the age of 25), no player has had more hits than Nick Markakis. Sign the man!

No comments: