Other pertinent bits of info:
- Belt asked for $7.5M and the Giants offered $5.3M, with a midpoint of $6.4M. He got a little lower than that. MBLTR had projected a $6.2M signing, so they hit the proverbial nail on the head.
- This is his third arbitration season , and 2017 will be his last one (he was a Super Two), after which he can become a free agent.
- They were scheduled to meet yesterday and it would have been the first arbitration hearing to happen since he who shall not be named (but initialed, AJP) in 2004, though both Lincecum and Belt had come very close to having a hearing before (Lincecum and the Giants were waiting outside the arbitrator's door when his agent approached Sabean for one last try; Belt had flown to the arbitration session's site, missing the first full-time spring training session, but came to an agreement without the Lincecum dramatics).
- It was noted that Evans had previously stated that the Giants are talking with Belt's agent about an extension, but that first they work on the one year deal.
- Baggarly reported: With Belt under contract, the Giants have committed more than $160 million (counting prorated portions of signing bonuses) to 16 players. The rest of their unsigned players have less than three years of service time and their salaries, which are determined by the club, will be at or just above the major league minimum of $507,500.
- Pavlovic reported: Belt made $2.9 million in 2014 and $3.6 million last season. He is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2017 season but the Giants have indicated a willingness to try and reach a long-term agreement.
It is great that he signed. I was a little worried because of the spread (and the beat writers fanning my worries) but the Giants under Sabean has famously been extremely adverse to going to arbitration with their players, and so I wasn't too worried. Sabean had noted before the problems of the arbitration hearing, as the format forces the team to tear down the player in order to "win" the arbitration hearing by having the arbitrator select the team's offer. Krukow also noted this adversarial aspect in one of his recent early morning KNBR shows, noting the damage it can cause to the team's relationship with the player. Thus, the Giants usually gets their guy signed, all except for one guy during Sabean's reign.
The Unmentionable Mr. P
Colletti was the guy in charge of getting AJP to agree to a deal, but, first, screwed up by low-balling the player (via the information from The Sporting News, one would know this; they noted that the expected amount was $3.0M, and they asked for $3.5M while Colletti offered only $2.25M, no wonder they lost) and then was unable to convince . No wonder AJP wanted to go to arbitration and not yield, and that was a perfect example of and start to his time with us, unyielding, uncooperative, unproductive.
I still suspect that Colletti was the one who engineered this trade, mainly because Magowan has publicly stated that he would have vetoed had he known about it. But also, during that time, Colletti talked on KNBR admiringly and incessantly about how Sabean had been great as a boss, allowing his assistant GM's to do more than just their duties, to do things like engineer trades (and he noted this more than once), so that is another seed in my doubt. (and I think Sabean was allowed to do this by his predecessor, as he has been credited for doing the Rueter trade, and continued that policy)
Furthermore, Magowan could have used his time complaining and covering his behind by naming Sabean explicitly, but instead chose not to name anyone, allowing everyone to assume it was the GM. One would think that while clearing his own name from that fiasco of a trade, he would have specifically stated "when Sabean did not bring this to me" but didn't. Plus, it is publicly known that Magowan has leaked things before about people, like Baker's tax issues, so he's willing to name names before, but didn't here. Why? But I digress.
Hopefully the Giants are still working on a longer term deal, getting some of his FA years, but I fear that it'll just be a two year term at best. I believe the issue has been more that Belt's side has been pricing to his potential that he has shown in spurts but never over a full season. Like Crawford, I think his agent wants to see a breakout season (like Crawford had in 2015) before committing to a long term deal. Hopefully 2016 is the year and he can stay healthy all season.
Based on the 40/60/80% rule, the Giants have been valuing Belt at these amounts:
- 2014: $2.9M, which I used 30%, equals roughly $10M market value
- 2015: $3.6M, using 40%, equals $9M market value
- 2016: $6.2M, using 60%, equals roughly $10.3M market value
Thus, they have been valuing Belt at around $10M market value throughout, for the most part. His 2015 value took a hit because of how poorly he did in 2014, but 2015 pushed him back on track.
How About the Pence?
I saw a comment on Shankbone's site, I think, that Belt is looking for a Freeman deal, but should accept a Pence deal. I see the validity of that. Pence's arb deals put his market value at around $14-15M (from what I recall) and he eventually got a deal valuing him at $18M per season. Any deal for Belt's FA years would start with his 30 YO season, so a 5-6 years deal is probably the max he might get. So a Pence deal for $18M AAV, 5 years, would seem to be about right, given the MLB inflation since then, and his production so far, 2014 notwithstanding (and his problems that season was caused by Scutaro hitting Belt in the head with a thrown ball, so it was just an unfortunate accident and not poor production on Belt's part).
Though, as some note, both beat writers and fans, perhaps the reticence in a deal might have to do with what happens to Belt if and when Posey is moved off the catching position. But I don't see that as a big problem for either side. If it were, the Giants would not be the ones announcing that they are probing a long term deal with Belt and from the players side, most players would take the $80M then worry about where he's playing next, assuming that's a price point they are interested in.
From reading his blog, he seems to be a really normal type of guy, much like Crawford, his Brandon-in-Crime, and enjoying his time with the Giants. And hopefully he saw the value of the Giants pushing him to change before, due to the success he has experienced since taking the Domonic Brown advice via Sir Bam Bam's intervention. So I don't see any overt reasons for him not to be amenable to a long term deal, and if anything, he might appreciate what the Giants have done for him and the team environment that they have.
But there are factors that we don't know much about. Both he and his wife does come from Texas, and so perhaps they would like to return there sooner than later. Or maybe he's one of those players who want to go to their boyhood team and have an emotional press conference announcing the signing, like Brett Butler and Jason Schmidt, who loved the Dodgers. Belt is young enough that he could, say, help the Rangers get over the hump and finally win the World Series, or Astros, who are on an upswing in their team cycle towards competitiveness and he could be a vet who has done it twice (hopefully at least one more before he goes free agency route) who can help guide the young players. So there are possible reasons why he don't want to sign with the Giants long-term. We'll just have to see what happens.
Payroll and Mid-Season Implications
Because of the oddities between how the threshold is calculated and the payroll that the Giants publicizes, while they are over the threshold and paying the penalty tax, roughly $3.5M over for a $1M penalty tax, once all the pre-arbs are signed for roughly the minimum, they are $14M less than the $180M payroll that I'm using as the upper limit of where they might go up to in 2016.
How I got to $180M: Baer noted that they were at $170M in 2015 (currently at $166M for signed and pre-FA players) and expect it to go up some, and $180M is a bit more than 5% increase (almost 6%, but I like round numbers and there is a national contract kicking in :^), which is the inflation rate FG has been using lately for $/WAR calculations.
So the Giants have a buffer of anywhere from $4M to $14M to spend on acquiring players in 2016 season. Given the "buy high" risky buys of Cueto and Samardzija, have to think that they would be willing to go to high end of that range if they see the need and opportunity to win and get into playoffs during the trading period, to pick up needed players.