Thursday, 6 December 2012

What's a Win Cost?

Well, it's hard to say.  We don't ever really get to figure out the cost of a win until after someone tallies it up at the end of the year (and fuck knows that I'm not doing it), but given some of the contracts signed on the free agent market this year, I feel like the charge is going up.  I had been using $5MM over the last 12-15 months, but it would appear that Fangraphs is going with $5.5MM/WAR, which immediately makes using that number sound like a smart idea.

I had actually written elsewhere that the Jays need to get something like 17.5 WAR out of Reyes over the life of the contract to get their money's worth, but that was using a $5MM/WAR valuation.

I feel like Reyes can probably be expected to provide something pretty close to the value listed above, though there's always the worry about how a fast guy without much power will age, especially if he can no longer play SS.  The above expected WAR, it should be noted, isn't a projection, but rather a model that shows how he'll be paid and will need to perform to justify the deal, as if it were a free agent contract, which, in itself, is a misnomer, since the Jays gave up prospects to acquire him, beyond the aspect of writing him several checks over the next five years.

We can certainly make the case that the trade (plus the Melky signing) puts them closer to the 90-95 win sweetspot that gets you in to the playoffs, which makes paying a little more for each subsequent win a little more justifiable.  That means that if Reyes were to be worth, say 15 wins over the life of the contract, the Jays would be paying an extra $900k or so per win (96/17.5 vs. 96/15).

Well, what if we substitute the original $5MM for the new figure of $5.5MM?

Slightly different, but a little easier to reach, no?  16 WAR over 5 years for a guy who's been worth 10.7 the last two years alone?  Bill James has him projected to be have a .295/.352/.434 batting line, which, combined with average defense and slightly above average baserunning, nets somewhere within the 3.5-4WAR area, depending on whether those projections have him playing in Toronto or Miami.

It certainly looks like AA struck before the iron got hot.  Josh Hamilton is probably going to get some hilarious short-term, high AAV deal that will pay him $25MM a season, and Zach Greinke might get the same value over 7 years.  BJ Upton gets 5/$75MM, Shane Victorino gets 3/$39MM despite having an atrocious 2012.  Shit, guys coming off Tommy John surgeries are getting 2-year deals.

The cost of a win is rising, and teams are spending their TV money with reckless abandon.  Seeing some of the free agent deals that have been signed so far this offseason makes me like the Miami trade a little more, especially since Toronto struggles to bring in free agents in the first place.

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