It's sometimes difficult to understand the extensions we hear about. Why does player A earn so much more or less than player B? Sometimes it is obvious; Sometimes it is not like that. In some cases, there are relatively unique personal circumstances that help to explain it – some of which may not even be publicly known. In any case, the actual course of negotiations requires that both sides estimate the market value at a point where key factors are still necessarily unknown. There is a great variability due to different motivations of the respective team and player. Nevertheless, we like to believe that the market value underpins the baseball contracts. Each deal can be viewed from the value perspective.
In light of this, it seems appropriate to take a closer look at the recently announced deal between the Royals and the second Baseman / Center Fielder Whit Merrifield . Despite the two consecutive All-Star seasons and an upward move in his performance, he has promised $ 1
Everything starts with his experience and his age. Merrifield is still under three years of MLB service away but has just turned 30. Since he did not have time to reach arbitration early enough, he was still a full season away from having more than the minimum salary of the league, with the inherent risks and limitations of arbitration, as the Super 2 qualifier he could be happy. In addition, recent trends in the aging curve were not benign to older statesmen.
In addition, Merrifield's most notable abilities – averages, speed on the bases and good and versatile glove work – are not particularly good -compensated in arbitration. To be sure, they indirectly show in the profit as the process pays players who see a lot of play time. But performance statistics (Homer and Ribbies) have tended to pay off better over time than those areas that are harder to quantify. Even stolen bases, the count in which Merrifield shines, are not considered the main driver.
However one thinks of Merrifield's particular standpoint in terms of skills and health, the overall situation was one in which his expected future revenues were more limited. In an arbitration, he would have seen, apart from a huge impulse, a strong, but hardly shocking player. And his hypothetical voluntarism was full of risks. How could he look like a player in four years? Nobody knows, but chances are good that he is not in good shape, as his former arbitration has extended his 33-year season.
Let's take a look at the numbers to see why this is the case.
Looking at the upcoming Arb years, we can first check out a few second basemen and other comps to see what Merrifield might have taken home if it had decided year after year. As I mentioned earlier, DJ LeMahieu represents an interesting overall comp, as he has just completed his own conciliation run. After starting with a salary of $ 3.0 million and completing a major offensive season in his birth years, he finished a total of $ 16.3 million – a near-perfect (and perhaps not random) match for what Merrifield will receive.
When I first joined Merrifield, which was proposed last March, its outstanding 2018 season had not yet been released. From today's perspective, it is not difficult to see a way to more than $ 16.25 million. How much Merrifield could have climbed would obviously have depended on what he does in the coming season, but we can estimate some parameters.
In terms of starting point, Merrifield should end up with a fall for much more than LeMahieu (.284 / .329 / .370, 15 home runs, 157 RBI, 1,901 record appearances) and Joe Panik (.282 /. 345 / .408, 29 home runs, 170 RBI) (1,818 record appearances), who earned $ 3.45 million in his first year. The Dodgers & # 39; Chris Taylor made a breakthrough and a solid follow-up from 2018 to a first-year retention of $ 3.5 million in 2017. He sits on 39 home runs and 152 RBI with a .262 / .331 / .435 headline through 1490 record appearances. Although Merrifield 2019 will not be able to push or top twenty long balls, it would certainly be on the right track to have a much more impressive statistical base than Taylor. He already has more record appearances (1,669) and RBI (167) and almost as many long balls (33), with a full season remaining to improve these valleys.
On the other hand, it is difficult to foresee anything like the The 34-Dinger outbreak and the second-placed MVP degree allowed Javier Baez a reserve of $ 5.2 million in the first year to reach. In all likelihood, depending on how things have developed in 2018, Merrifield would likely have an Arb-1 salary somewhere in between the numbers we've considered for consideration, such as in the $ 3.75-4.75 million range Dollar.
A few other Mid-Arb players also help illustrate how things could have gone if Merrifield continued to produce throughout its Arb years, quite apart from the starting point. Shortstop Marcus Semien made sixty home runs and almost average overall productivity through nearly two thousand record appearances in the Arb. He earned $ 3.125 million in his first year of injury-limited platform season and rose to 5 in the 2019 salary level, $ 9 million after launching 15 long balls in 703 disk appearances. Scooter Gennett rose from a starting point of $ 2.525 million to $ 5.7 million and $ 9.775 million, driven by a total of fifty things and robust overall productivity in his last two platform campaigns.
With good luck and some improvement in progress, Merrifield could have tracked these or even larger increases. At best, a reasonably realistic scenario – perfectly healthy seasons at the peak of his former level of performance (~ 20 home runs per year) – he might have started at $ 4.5 million and gradually brought home $ 3.5 million , This would have resulted in a total of $ 24 million in decision-making.
It is of course conceivable that Merrifield's performance and / or intervening health problems could dissuade him from this path. Joe Panik had set the stage for higher earnings (though he had a significant disadvantage over LeMahieu), but stumbled after winning $ 3.45 million in his arb1 season. He expected only $ 3.8 million for the upcoming campaign and has no hope of getting close to LeMahieu's overall earnings.
Obviously, any kind of significant injury would compromise a player's ability to command an increase. Since Merrifield is not even in arbitration, an untimely and significant injury (for example, in the camp this spring) could have seriously damaged his earning power. Even if things went well for a while, Merrifield would always be prone to injury or performance degradation. This is the same for every player, but the risks have been compounded with age (and future free agent benefits have declined).
It is emphasized that the risks existed before 19459007 even before 19459007, since Merrifield seeks the arbitration process still a full season away. Do not you believe me how different the Arb profits are? Here is an illustration with some big names. Francisco Lindor had almost achieved a record in the first year when he agreed to a $ 10.55 million contract earlier this month. Lately, he has been healthier and more productive than the star of his peers in the same class of service he often compares with Carlos Correa who won Lindor's 2015 rookie vote. The salary of the Astros star is still unclear, but will be between $ 4.25 and $ 5 million. Although Correa performed more often at the beginning of his career, Correa is now more than five hundred meters from Lindor due to injury. Not surprisingly, he has also lagged behind his contemporaries at home races and holds only a slight lead in the runs he has attacked. Correa still has a clear lead in the total amount of park-adjusted offensive productivity (128 wRC + vs. 120 wRC +) and is still considered an elitist talent, but at the wrong time a year of failure. Lindor's playing time and strength increased in his platform years, allowing him to more than double Correa in the first year of Arb earning.
When $ 24 million in arbitration decisions was a best-case scenario, the downside was more or less unlimited. It is obviously hard to imagine that Merrifield would be cut off from substantial future revenues unless there is a truly catastrophic violation. But it's still a full season away. And as panic shows, it's not hard to come up with a scenario where profits lag far behind their expected development. The risks are clear.
If anything can be said about Merrifield's perspective on this arrangement, perhaps it's the fact that he's got a free agent season. Here, the royals could find a real plus, since they can only hold on to Merrifield for a year, if theoretically they could be able to do much more in free negotiation.  But what kind of open market profit scenarios has Merrifield really sacrificed (or at least pushed back by a year)? It seems unlikely that he will enter the 2023 season after four years, assuming that he has put a tremendous amount of money on the table.
Take this comparison. We can all agree that Merrifield had an excellent pair of seasons. He sits on a .296 / .347 / .449 cumulative slash with 31 homers and 79 steals, while his other contributions lead to a cumulative rating of 9.3 rWAR / 8.1 fWAR. Compare that to Jed Lowrie who once had his own outbreak season at the age of 29. He was injured in the meantime, but has been turning around lately. Lowrie had only entered the open market at a more advanced age than Merrifield had, with a two-year platform of .272 / .356 / .448 with 37 homers and 8.8 rWAR / 8.5 fWAR.
Take Lowries Free Agent? Two years and $ 20 million. This salary level is reflected in the only option year that Merrifield has given the team in its new $ 10.5 million deal, again like LeMahieu arb comp comp, perhaps not coincidentally.
Even in a Most Optimistic Scenario For example, as the Ben Zobrist offers war, there is a limit to what this type of player can earn in free agency. Zobrist was a hot commodity that entered its 35-year season. He had a long track record in excellent offensive production (which has far outperformed Merrifield's overall record) and versatile defensive ability. He secured a four-year contract for $ 56 million.
All in all, this seems to be a fair deal for both sides. This is a deal that will allow the team to avoid an unpredictable arbitrage salary and possibly receive another season of a respected veteran at a certain discount rate. But it is hardly the contract of Jose Ramirez – another deal in which a service-class Infielder came out with two pluses from an outbreak campaign. Of course, Ramirez was only 24 years old and was just starting out on a level that was perhaps not expected at the time. His deal offered a few valuable team options – for his age of 30 and 31 years. This kind of upside just does not exist in the Merrifield contract.
For a 30-year-old, non-sloppy infielder / outfielder, who still has fewer than three campaigns in his MLB career, this extension lands in a reasonable range in terms of length and overall guarantee. When looking through a few other contracts, it's not hard to see how the pages ended up where they were.