Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Giants 2012 Arbitration Cases: Dust Clearing

Thought I would run down the Giants arbitration cases, using MLB Trade Rumor's estimates as guidelines (but not absolutes) and reports on recent signings.

  • Tim Lincecum:  the only news up to now had been that the Giants proposed a 4 year extension and Lincecum's camp suggesting a 1-2 year deal or an 8 year deal.  It was announced today that Lincecum asked for $21.5M and the Giants offered $17M.  The Giants offer set a record and Lincecum's asking price was just short of Clemen's $22M asking salary a while back.  MLBTR sez $19.2M estimated, and the mid-point for the two is $19.25M.  DrB suggested on his blog that Tim would do as last time and sign a two year deal for $17M in 2012 and $21.5M in 2013, and that sounds right.  I wonder if the Giants might use the mid-point for 2012 (so around $19M) and then around $21.5M ($21M? $22M?) for 2013.  I still expect the Giants to sign him to a 5 year deal in the $120M range, maybe $127M to be symbolic as the largest contract ever by Giants, though that would probably mean a team option for year 6 plus, say, a big buyout for the 6th year:  $19M, $21M, $23M, $25M, $27M plus $12M buy out (for $127M) or $30M salary.
  • Angel Pagan:  MLBTR estimated $4.7M and he signed for $4.85M plus up to $150K in PA incentives.
  • Melky Cabrera:  MLBTR estimated $4.4M and he signed for $6.0M.   The salary works out to $7.5M level of production (the saber-assumption that 3rd year arb cases earn roughly 80% of the going rate of production). Plus that amount is roughly what Cody Ross got in arbitration last season, and what he produced in his career, mid-to-high 700 OPS, is what Melky has produced over his last three seasons, .282/.332/.420/.752, roughly, just slightly less. Ross got $6.3M, Melky slightly less. By that standard, Cabrera looks like he got roughly what he should have gotten, that estimate seems off by a lot, perhaps including his 2010 stats in the calculations.
  • Pablo Sandoval:  MLBTR estimated $3.2M, but luckily, in the series of posts explaining the methodology, it noted that Pablo's estimate was based on his 2011 PA, which as we all know was reduced significantly by his hamate bone breakage.  Using a full season 650 PA, they stated that his estimated salary would have been $4.7M.   I would also point out that the methodology noted that the system was within $320K of the actual about 50% of the time for their test data, so it is not like the estimate is the final word, nor a sign of over/under paying, just a good guidepost to compare against.  That $4.7M works out to a $11.25M free market salary, and applying the 40%/60%/80% rule, that adds up to $21.15M for the three years.  Maybe sign him to a $18M contract for 3 years ($4M, $6M, $8M) plus a 4th year team option at $10M (Giants get a slight discount for guaranteeing him all that money and committing to him)  If they went to a 5th year option, maybe $12M.  Oops, just got news that the Giants just signed him to a 3 year contract (Schulman), Shankbone noted on DrB the dollar values:  $3.2 million this year, $5.7 million in 2013, $8.25 million in 2014, or 3 years, $17.15M.  If Sandoval has another good season in 2012, I wouldn't be surprised if they extend him another couple of seasons on top of that contract.
  • Ryan Vogelsong:  MLBTR estimated $2.5M and the Giants signed him to a two year, $8.3M contract, I believe $3M for the first year and $5M for the second, and $300K buyout if the Giants don't pick up the team option for a third year.  I don't recall seeing what that third year salary was for.
  • Santiago Casilla:  MLBTR estimated $1.9M and he signed for $2.2M, with $200K in incentives.
  • Sergio Romo:  MLBTR estimated $1.3M.
  • Mike Fontenot:  MLBTR estimated $1.3M and he signed for $1.05M, which I think was his salary from last season too.
  • Nate Schierholtz:  MLBTR estimated $1.2M, and I would remind that this is based on part time play, he should get more if he were a starter based on their methodology, so he might have big escalators put in place in case he does become a full-time starter in 2012.  Schulman in the blog link above noted that Nate signed for $1.3M.
  • Emmanuel Burriss:  MLBTR estimated $600K.  He is signed but no reported figure has been released.  The minimum salary in the new CBA is $480K, so I think he'll be closer to that than the $600K.
Giants Thoughts

The Giants, as per their M.O., tries to avoid arbitration like the plague.  They have settled almost all the above arbitration cases, except for the tough ones, Lincecum and Romo (I had Sandoval here too but his signing was announced while I was writing).

I expect the Giants to try to sign Lincecum to multi-year contracts, per my speculation above.

I assume Romo's agent is playing hardball because of how historically great Romo's season was last season.  Or maybe he's also hoping to cash in on a multi-year deal as well, though given Romo's arm problems, that would be risky on the Giants part unless he signs a 3 year deal for around $4M.  Based on the MLBTR estimate, Romo's 3 year should be around $5.85M, +/- $1M.   So maybe as high as $5M for the 3 years of arbitration.

And looking at the signings the Giants did with Affeldt and Lopez, that $1.3M looks low for Romo, I think $1.6M is closer to what he should be looking for 2012.  Still, $5M for 3 years seems pretty good to offer, that's roughly one year worth of good relief, so he could be injured and out for two years and still pay off with one good season.


  1. More MLB news on Sandoval signing: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120117&content_id=26373980&vkey=news_sf&c_id=sf&partnerId=rss_sf

    Sandoval asked for $4.25M and the Giants offered $3.0M. The first year of the contract ended up close to the Giants offer, at $3.2M.

    It also noted that Romo asked for $1.75M and the Giants offered $1.3M, or exactly what MLBTR estimated. All the other players apparently traded figures with the Giants and deals were done pretty quickly, so his side isn't willing to accept the midpoint of $1.525M OR the Giants are trying to work out a long-term deal with him too.

    1. Wow, should have noted that the Sandoval contract first year matched the MLBTR estimate exactly at $3.2M.

  2. what do you see as the time frames for both cainer and timmy for signing? I'm starting to get nervous that timmy seems to be playing hardball although i realize its very early in negotiations for his deal

    1. As we saw last time, Timmy took until the hearing to work out his last deal. So I have no idea on him.

      While I'm nervous, mainly because I don't know the answer, at a four year deal (and remember, businesses start their negotiation low so that they can move towards consensus, so I expect the deal to be for 5-6 years, ultimately, so that's where the rest of my thinking works off of), that's too much money for Lincecum's side to leave on the table, at least $100M, maybe as high as $150M if it goes to 6 years.

      Almost nobody is going to risk losing $100-150M to test the free agent market. If his body goes out in 2012, he'll have the roughly $19-20M he'll probably get, but forgo that $80-130M. Would take balls of steel to turn that down, that's why I say almost, but I'm 99% sure he'll sign a 4+ year deal, he's always been about the money, getting what's his, but the risk of losing that much money is much different from asking for $1M when offered 6 figures by Indians, or asking for $2M when slotted for $1.8M when Giants drafted him.

      I am also encouraged by how close the two sides were in their arbitration salary figures. $17M and $21.5M aren't that far apart. Both sides should have figured where they think the actual fair value is, then add/subtract, because that is how businesses negotiate.

      For Cainer, if I were his agent, I would first see where the Giants set the ceiling for Lincecum, then work from there. That basically puts the time table during spring training to sign him, and I think that's when his other deals were announced (arb buyout, then extension) as well, so he's comfortable with that.

      I'm not worried about him, I don't think his side will ask for Lincecum money, but they might want more than Verlander money if the Giants go big on Lincecum, as Cain's side would argue that he's improved and has been a leader in the clubhouse (he's the union rep too).

      But, for me, when I feel that both sides have the same goal - keep Cain in SF - and both are relatively reasonable, it is just the negotiating process that has to run its course, and an agreement should be a slam dunk, barring any mistakes on the Giants part (and their record of only one arbitration hearing during the Sabean era speaks of their ability to find common ground and consensus, though I would also add that Bumgarner did not like his salary for 2011, and so the Giants probably will have to do make up with him for 2012 to appease his side and maybe get a long term deal signed with him too).

  3. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120120&content_id=26406980&vkey=news_sf&c_id=sf&partnerId=rss_sf

    Romo, as expected, signed with the Giants. He got $1.575M (where do they get those numbers? :^) The mid-point was $1.525M so he held out and got $50K more to sign with the Giants. No longer term deal, maybe because of the injury concerns, maybe because even if the Giants err, it wouldn't be, say, a potential $10M mistake, like if Sandoval continues to improve his hitting or even the Lincecum situation where if they had held him off by another week or two (too bad Russ Ortiz had to go lame right then, though Lincecum coming up was inevitable), they probably would have saved $5-6M there too.

  4. Hey OGC, thanks for writing this blog. It helps me stay sane to see someone use facts and stats to dispel this offseason's internet memes (Giants have no hitters, Giants can't afford both Cain and Lincecum and a hitter, Giants can't win with current team). I particularly appreciated the stat you uncovered about Bochy and 1 run games. Keep up the great work!

    1. Hey Southland, you are very welcome. I really appreciate your comment, sometimes I do wonder if I'm just tilting at windmills like Don Quixote and whether I'm doing any good by posting.

      I know, I love that Bochy stat too, I wish I can find my notes, I wanted to post that on Fangraphs and get a reaction, yea or nay, I can get around on stats, but not an expert, wonder if I missed anything.

      Again, thanks for the compliments, I shall try my very best to keep you and others happy per the points you laid out.

  5. Should note the latest rumors:


    Chron's great Schulman reported/blogged that the Giants apparently offered 2 years at $40M and Lincecum's agent had asked for 2 years at $44M, so they are probably very close to a resolution and probably a two year contract.

    Another rumor that's been floating is that Lincecum had rejected the Giants 5 years, $100M contract.

    I had assumed it meant "$100M-ish" but as more reports come out, that seems to be the amount, so no wonder Lincecum's camp turned it down, he really should be in the $110M range for a 5 year contract.

    Even at $40M for two years, that implies at minimum a $20M per year contract, maybe more than $21M in the second year. To expect Lincecum to not get an escalating contract is not being very realistic or fair, hope that don't cost the Giants in the negotiations. Starting with, say, $18.5M and $21.5M (for $40M), and escalating $2M per year, that's $23.5M, $25.5M, $27.5M, for a total of $116.5M for a five year contract, realistically. I think he expects to be paid among the top in the business, and I think this line approximates that (though I need to check CC's latest contract).

    So I view this as a Giants mis-step in negotiations, on par with the Cards insulting Pujols and his wife with an offer of less than 10 years.

    On better news, Cain reportedly is getting close to signing a long-term deal for under $20M per season, and I still think a five year deal, like Verlander's, is about right for risk with pitchers. This is the deal that I thought would be most likely to happen, Lincecum is too much of a wild card.

    I'm still hoping deals with Posey and Bumgarner are forthcoming as well, lets get all of the core all signed long-term, then ask Lincecum if he's out or if he's in with the group.

  6. Chasing Windmills! Sometimes you have to do it.

    I really like the idea of signing up the core and then asking Timmy if he's in or out. Not sure if you're implying the Giants might have messed up Timmy's negotiation on purpose as some think the Cards did with Pujols and his wife. Might be too early in the game, but also might be a good strategy.

    If all there is between getting the contract done is escalating to 5/116 they should just do it. That is a stupendous amount of money to leave on the table for a pitcher. Now Fielder will most likely get signed to a big deal in the end because Boras has the Nats in his back pocket, but his situation should give Timmy a little pause as far as two in the bush, one in the hand with the deals...

    1. I was not implying, but that would make more sense as a short-term play to see how Lincecum turns out in the next season or two, I see your point. Then they could always bring out the big guns at that point.

      Well, I'm guessing at the $116M, for all we know, Lincecum wants 5/$150M.

      Boras always seems to have some sucker owner lined up for his clients big payday. It would be interesting for someone to calculate the WAR value for all Boras big item clients (over $25M? over $50M? ...) and see how many of them actually worked out for the team. Not that I think those valuations are that precise yet, but I think they are close enough for ballpark comparisons.

  7. It has been reported that the Giants and Lincecum have come to a verbal agreement for a 2 year, $40.5M contract, $500K signing bonus, $18M in 2012 and $22M in 2013. That works out to a market value of $30M in 2012 and $27.5M in 2013, not including the bonus (the rule being 2nd year arb is 60% of market value, 3rd year arb is 80% of market value).

    Also: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120124&content_id=26452170&vkey=news_sf&c_id=sf&partnerId=rss_sf

    In other news, Prince Fielder is staying up north apparently, the reporting is that he has signed a 9 year contract with the Detroit Tigers (where, I believe, his dad made his name after years of minors then Japanese fame). $214M, average of just under the $24M per season that Pujos got, $23.78M per annum.

    Wow, they tout his missing only 1 game the past three seasons, but he's a big boi and us Giants fans learned how much the past could mean for the future in terms of injury with Durham - nothing's guaranteed (unless, that is, Prince has a clause allowing the team not to pay him for days on the DL :^). He's still young though, so we'll see.

    But I admire Dombrowski, for the work he did in Montreal, then Florida, then Detroit, if there was one GM I would have swapped for Sabean before, he's probably the only guy I would even consider. His college thesis was about running a franchise I believe (or something related to the management of a baseball team). He did a lot with little money in Montreal and Florida, then got access to more money with Detroit, though they have not paid off yet, but he is the guy I "stole" (was inspired?) the idea of rebuilding by tearing down first, in order to get great draft picks (top 5 overall), he did it in Montreal, Florida, then Detroit when he first joined them.

  8. Here is Baggarly's blog on the deal, for some reason their RSS feed is lagged by a lot, I had to pull up the last post to get access to the new one.


    Andy noted that Zito holds the "honor" of the highest paid player, as Zito gets $19M. However, I think Lincecum probably should pass him up by the end of the season. For one, with the bonus, he's being paid $18.5M this season, only $500K behind.

    Second, I have to think that he still gets bonuses for making the All-Star Game and for winning the Cy Young (for votes too). He also could gain bonuses for MVP votes, both regular and winning in the post-season. He also got a bonus for reaching 225 IP. A Cy Young had added $500K on his old contract, so if he could do that, he would be paid the most on the team in 2012.

    FYI, it seems like Cots Contracts sold their site to Baseball Prospectus, as BP is now where I get sent when I click on the link. My side link has now been updated to get to the Giants data, but will still be named Cots.

  9. Schulman has a great blog post on the Lincecum deal, with stats and quotes and stuff: http://blog.sfgate.com/giants/2012/01/24/lincecum-gets-exactly-what-he-wanted-but-he-also-assumes-the-greater-risk/

    Here is the original contract blog: http://blog.sfgate.com/giants/2012/01/24/giants-tim-lincecum-reach-2-year-deal/

    Some key excerpts:

    Last September, I asked Lincecum if he might reject a long-term contract with the Giants because of the perennially weak offense. He said no, but added that he did prefer a shorter-term deal, because “I just don’t know how I’m going to feel five years from now, or three years. That’s why I’d kind of like to take things step by step.”

    There are two critical points here.

    One, just because Lincecum reportedly turned down a five-year, $100 million deal does not mean he does not want to be a Giant long-term. It just means he didn’t want to sign for that many years at that dollar figure. It’s my understanding that the Giants and Lincecum’s agents discussed many contract scenarios, from very short to very long, but two years is where they found common ground.

    Moreover, just because they signed a two-year deal today doesn’t mean they can’t do a longer-term contract before this one expires.

    The second point: Lincecum is taking all the risk by going short on years (if accepting $40.5 million is considered “risky”). Pitchers get arm trouble, and though Lincecum’s health has not been an issue, he is mortal. He is bypassing the security of a longer deal in return for a potentially bigger payday down the road. If reports are true, Matt Cain is taking the opposite tack. He’s willing to accept a below-market, long-term deal in exchange for that security and stability. I’m told no deal is imminent with Cain.

    The Giants’ risk on Lincecum is low. They are not saddled with a potentially crippling pitcher contract, and the worst that can happen is Lincecum walks in 2014 and the Giants have $25 million to spend elsewhere.

    1. I'm disappointed that a deal was not imminent with Cain, recent reports gave me that impression that it was, but the great news is that Cain is OK with a team friendly below-market deal in exchange for a long-term deal that provides security and stability. I read somewhere that the recent Jered Weaver deal for 5 years and $85M is the model.

      That's about right, I had envisioned something close to Verlander's 5 year, $80M deal, but with inflation, that is about right. Anything in that ballpark would be great for Cain (though I would note, not really team friendly, that is still the going rate for good pitchers of his age and performance, which I'm totally OK with paying him, just pointing it out).



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