Friday, September 22, 2017

Money and WAR, what is it good for?

This 2017 Immaculate card features 4 guys who are on the verge of having Hall of Fame careers.  All four players were signed to contract extensions within 2 years of one another and all player for smaller market teams.  There's no New York, Chicago, or LA players here.  

An article for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette was recently written about how frugal the Pirates have to be in terms of their market and valuing.

I will take a look at all four players contract extensions and calculate their WAR as provided by Baseball-Reference.  It's understand that 1 WAR is currently valued at roughly $8 million.

Let's begin with the top right corner and work our way around clockwise.

The Tigers extended Miggy in 2014 after restructuring his current contract and extending him an extra 8 years for a 10 year $292 million deal.  So far Miggy has posted WAR totals of 5.0, 5.2, 4.9, and -0.6 giving him 14.9 WAR over the first 4 years of the 10 year deal.  At $8mil per WAR that values his performance at $119.2 mill.  His AYV salary is $29.2 mill which is $116.8 million for the first 4 years.  The Tigers have gotten value, but Miggy's performance is heading in the wrong direction and could lead to tough times ahead for Tigers fans.

Votto was awarded a 12 year contract worth $251 million with a club option for his age 41 season at the start of the 2012 season.  It's not that Votto has been unproductive.  In fact he continues to put up MVP caliber numbers year after year by slashing .300/.400/.500 lines almost every year since signing the contract.  Since signing the contract in 2012 Votto has posted WAR ratings of 5.9, 6.6, 1.9, 7.6, 4.0, and 6.4 equal to 32.4 WAR with 7 seasons remaining on the contract.  32.4 WAR at $8mill per WAR is equal to $259Million.  So far the Reds have gotten their value from the Votto contract.

The absolute steal of the bunch has to be Jose Altuve.  He was given a $12.5 million contract extension with a $750,000 signing bonus.  There are two club options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons at $6 million and $6.5 million respectively.  Over his 4 year contract he has produced 26.5 WAR which when extended by $8mill per WAR would equal $212 million ($200 million over his actual salary).

Cutch signed a contract extension just before the 2012 season for 6 years and $51.5 million.  The Pirates reaped the benefits very early on the contract as Cutch posted monster WAR numbers 7.0, 8.1, and 6.3 for the 2012 to 2014 seasons.  Post dreadlocks era Cutch began with good WAR (4.9 in 2015) but has become more average in the past two years -0.7 and 2.1 (this year).  Depending on if the Pirates pick up the team option for the 2018 season could linger on how he finishes this September.  His 6 year contract has amassed 27.7 WAR which equals $221.6 million in value.

So to recap since signing the contract extensions the teams all received positive returns on their investments so far.

The Tigers seem to be in severe jeopardy of recouping value on Miggy if his numbers continue to decline.

Votto continues to put up outstanding numbers and won't be a free agent until 2023.  His numbers could begin to decline as the contract wears towards the end.

Both Cutch and Altuve contracts have provided the most benefits to the teams this far and both teams have club options to pick up the contracts of the players at season's end.  Altuve is a lock for having his contract picked up and I suspect Cutch will get his option picked up as well since there will be no asset returned to the team if it's not exercised.


  1. That Miggy deal will look like the Pujols contract soon....

    1. You can't fault the Tigers for extending him because they thought they would be perennial contenders year after year. Unfortunately for them the Indians are a juggernaut right now.