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The Future of Long Term Contracts For The Dodgers

Yes, Major League Baseball is a game.  It is a game played by millionaires to the benefit of billionaires.  But it also is a business.  AF clearly went out of his comfort zone with Mookie Betts.   But he was the long-term star needed for this team after the 2019 debacle.  So $365MM for 13 years was what it took to extend Mookie through his 39 year old season.  What can go wrong.

The first three years of the contract (Age 27-29) Mookie’s fWAR and value were as follows:

  • 2020 – 2.8 fWAR – $22.4MM
  • 2021 – 3.8 fWAR – $30.6MM
  • 2022 – 6.6 fWAR – $52.8MM

Thus Mookie has theoretically earned $105.8MM of his $365MM, but in his prime years, with a body that has shown some deterioration.  His salary for the next 10 years:

  • 2023 – Age 30 – $20MM
  • 2024 – Age 31 – $25MM
  • 2025 – Age 32 – $25MM
  • 2026 – Age 33 – $25MM
  • 2027 – Age 34 – $25MM
  • 2028 – Age 35 – $30MM
  • 2029 – Age 36 – $30MM
  • 2030 – Age 37 – $30MM
  • 2031 – Age 38 – $27.5MM
  • 2032 – Age 39 – $27.5MM

$265MM due Mookie over the next 10 years.  He will need to produce at 33.13 fWAR over the next 10 years.

But it appears that AF does not want to go down that course again.  He paid Trevor Bauer a huge number but for only three years.  Just how upset do you think management would be if they thought they would have to pay Bauer for three – four more years instead of one.

They scaled down the years for Freddie to 6. In 2022, Freddie had a 7.1 fWAR that generated $56.7MM of value in production.  Theoretically, Freddie needs to generate $105.30MM over the remaining 5 years on his contract.  Freddie needs to produce a 13.6 fWAR over the next five years, or average 2.63 fWAR.

Of Freddie and Mookie, who has the better chance with their production value equating to their monetary value?

Is it any wonder why AF was hesitant to go 11-13 years for Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, or Xander Bogaerts? He wasn’t willing to pay Corey Seager 10 years, and Seager was homegrown.  AF will pay high AAV’s with the ability to get out of the contract sooner.  There is no way AF was ever going to sign Carlos Rodón for 6 years.  AF/BG signed Noah Syndergaard $13.5MM for one year, vs $39MM for three years for Tyler Anderson.  Could it be that AF/BG believe Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Bobby Miller, Gavin Stone, Ryan Pepiot, Nick Nastrini, and Emmet Sheehan need to have a clear path to MLB?  It appears more likely that AF will continue with the one year contracts to supplement the homegrown pitchers.

The team drafts far more pitchers than any other position, and have the requisite ability to develop them. They can afford to wait for their pitchers to develop to be ML pitchers because of the number of pitchers close to MLB that they have.

Not so much for position players.  The Dodgers system is thin at most positions other than Catchers, DH, and utility players.  Who is that “can’t miss”  SS or CF in the system?  The system has depth and players who can play those positions, but not one that owns it.  So the Dodgers need to supplement their team with elite position players like Mookie and Freddie.

However, AF is not going to tie his hands with multiple boat anchor contracts. He has one potential in Mookie, so to have another is not something I would expect AF to do.  The question now is, how many years will he offer Julio Urías, and realistically expect him to sign? With Scott Boras as his agent, I do not like the odds.

Will AF go back to the Mookie Model next year for Shohei Ohtani?

 

 

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Badger

Albert Pujols went from 9 WAR at age 29 to 1.6 WAR at age 33. If it can happen to him it can happen to anybody. We’ve got Mookie. He’s 30 now, and we’ve got him at $30m+ AAV until he’s 39. We’ve got Freddie at $27m for 5 more years. Will they last? Who knew. Front loaded contracts are the way to go if you can get them. And it would appear guys like Verlander, 5.9 WAR at 39, are the rare exception. Will he do it again? Scherzer at 38? I don’t think so and he’s owed $86 million.

Obviously $300+ million payroll can put interesting lineups on the field and butts in seats. But $300+ million guarantees nothing in October.

Our owners aren’t likely to go the Cohen route. I’m not sure what the organizational plan might be after this, Plan B year. Wait and see I guess.

Last edited 1 month ago by Badger
Dave

Jeff, I agree their plan A is not to sign big long term contracts. I just always have to laugh and shake my head when I read all the stories about how they are “in” on some player or they need to do spend big.
They have a good farm sysyem and need to use it!

Ken

Jeff, I really appreciate your logic. The more I read your articles the better it gets. The long-term contracts have to hit a wall some time. They make no sense when running a business. You should assume the majority of teams have already figured this out and soon the others will follow after they watch what happens to the Mets. AF is usually ahead of the trends, and I hope he goes back to the home-grown approach and maybe this year is the start. I find it much easier to get excited about our rookies that some over-paid hired gun for a year! The perfect example for me was Trea Turner. Good player but just couldn’t get excited about him and no matter how good he is I won’t miss him- he has no emotion. Thanks for your excellent insight, it is something I look forward to.

Dodgerrick

Hey Jeff. I’ve decided to come out of hiding, at least on your site, and share a couple of thoughts. Andrew Friedman famously said something to the effect that if you used only logic to decide on signing free agents that you would come in 3rd in any efforts to obtain one. Long term deals are like sunk business costs – they can be a cost of doing business. Looked at another way, it is apparently what you have to pay to obtain the player that you want, once you decide that you want him.

The formula for success is growing your own and then filling in the gaps with players from other teams, obtained by free agency, trades and fixing other veterans.

Looked at another way, the Dodgers have major gaps that they have not had in a decade. For example, if defense up the middle is a key to run prevention, how does a defense of Lux and Muncy at SS and 2B and some kind of platoon with Taylor, Thompson and Outman look? Or how does an infield of Vargas at 3B, Lux at SS and Muncy at 2B look? I have been a fan since the 1965 season and I cannot remember an infield that is likely to be so defensively challenged.

Or how about the Dodgers OF? Yeah, you have Betts in RF, but the other 2 spots will be filled by some amalgamation of Thompson, Taylor, Outman and Vargas.

Given the nature of these holes, what have the Dodgers done to fill them in? Nothing this year – at least not yet. There are no free agents who are difference makers available. So does Friedman have some trade up his sleeve? Or will the Dodgers go limping into the season with weaknesses at 3B, 2B, LF and CF?

Fred Vogel

First of all, it’s great to hear from you again Dodgerrick. I’ve always enjoyed your insightful commentary.
Secondly, I have to believe that AF is focused on making some fun trades. For whom, I do not know. I’ll let him surprise us.

Badger

I second Fred. Welcome aboard Rick.

I believe the alogorithmetricians the Dodgers employ use their formulas to figure two things: 1. The total projected WAR of the players for the length of what it’s going to take to secure them, giving them an AAW (average annual WAR) for that player, and 2. The average A$W, (average $WAR), over the length of that contract. What’s a WAR point going to be worth in 2033? It’s safe to say exact numbers won’t be possible, but those advanced calculus bean counters will be close. There’s also the Pleiadean message of The Shift happening in 2028 to consider, a discussion for another time, the point being all these algorithmic models are geek guesses. How fast will these players run out of gas? How many months/years will be lost to injury? Are these contracts insured? All costs of doing business.

I also think it’s safe to say nobody in MLB will be losing money in the next decade. Even the owners that can’t keep up will be able to bail for billions. (see McCourt, Frank). Another thing is for certain, costs to fans will continue to rise and fans will keep pace with the FCI increase. We are as predictable as a sunrise.

Bumsrap

Good to hear from you Rick.

Bumsrap

Is there a direct relationship between payroll and where a team drafts? It does id that high payroll results in finishing with a good win/loss record.

Signing a free agent who has been offered a QO hurts a team’s drafts and reduces international signing budgets.

It’s hard to add home grown talent if a team keeps signing costly free agents.

This year it seems like teams are reluctant to trade top players for prospects. And if they do an example would be the Pirates asking for teams to gut their prospect list for a player that is not a superstar.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bumsrap
Bumsrap

I don’t want to trade Miller and I am lukewarm about trading for Reynolds.

Teams that draft top 10 players better get it right. How many teams passed on Trout before he was drafted. A team like the Dodgers who draft late can’t make mistakes with prospect trades like they did with Oneil Cruz and Yordan Alvarez

I agree about Betts being more than a bat and glove. That is why I was in favor of trying to trade for Lindor which would have included moving Seager if a multi-team trade were needed. Correa supposedly is a Betts and Lindor type guy but with drum baggage.

Sometimes a team has to pay a free agent to get a Betts or Lindor. Sometimes that guy is already there like the Mariners’ Rodriguez or Baltimore’s Rutschman. I miss what Pederson brings to a team.

After the CBT is reset, the Dodgers can use their pitching prospects like May, Miller, Stone, Pepiot, Knack, Nastrini, to keep their rotation cost down so they can invest in position player payroll.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bumsrap
Oldbear48

Good stuff Jeff. I have little problem with the way AF does business now. I have seen the way he works over the last several seasons and other than Mookie and Freeman, there have been no contracts over 4 years. I think they would be wise to lock up Smith, and I thought they should have done the same with Urias a few years ago. But I am just a fan, and I know little of the inside workings of the team. As for the defensive side of the ball this year, well, if the Dodgers believe in Lux, I guess I will have to believe also. I think and believe both Thompson and Outman can be very good defensively in center. As good as Belli? Most likely not. But more than average. RF defense with Mookie is great. LF defense will be the one I am looking at come spring. Heyward is a very good defensive outfielder, and if he can rediscover his stroke, that will be a plus. 3rd and 2nd are question marks. Hi Rick, nice to see a post from you.

Bumsrap

I remember that there was some talk that the Dodgers should have drafted Wacha instead of Seager after Whaca was dominating the Dodgers in a playoff series while Seager was still in the minors.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bumsrap
Singing the Blue

Giants have dfa’d Tommy LaStella. His last two years were pretty mediocre but before that he had some nice years for the Cubs and Angels among others.

He can play second and third base and has had some nice OBP throughout his career (before the last couple of years).

He may just be on the downward slope of his career, but he seems like the kind of guy AF might roll the dice with.

Last edited 1 month ago by Singing the Blue
Singing the Blue

Question: Let’s say AF makes a trade for LaStella (which he won’t because he isn’t worth that 11.5 mil). But if he did make that trade, would the amount applied to the CBT for the Dodgers in 2023 be 11.5 or 6.25?

Oldbear48

Ron Cey went on Dodgernation and had some harsh but fair words about their NLDS loss to the Padres. I trust the Penguin’s view a lot, and he said some things that most of us were saying before and after the debacle. No clutch hitting, had not played a game of much importance for almost two months, the 5 day layoff affected their sharpness, and most likely, once they were trailing, they failed to execute and they were pressing. Too much put on the top four hitters in the lineup and too man Mendoza line performers at the bottom. Very astute analysis from someone who has been there.

Badger

Several of us have said the same thing here.

I don’t think we need Reynolds. Not yet anyway.

So I see no one is buying what I’m selling on future WAR. That’s ok. I’m getting used to it.

Freddie only makes $27m so, he should easily earn his contract. Mookie. We owe him a little over $300 million. By my future WAR calcs, and using a conservative A$W of $10m per point over the next decade, Mookie needs to put up about 32 WAR to earn his money. Anybody going to bet against him? Correa would need to do something similar, a little over 3 WAR per year for however long it is. Both those guys will likely keep putting up 4-6 WAR for a while, probably fade in their mid 30s, but remember, it’s about AAV. It’s also about b.i.s. revenue, which the Dodgers always have. The Mets have not drawn particularly well the last few years. I believe that will change next year.

I think these contracts may turn out to be smarter deals than the average fan thinks they are. The Dodgers are out this year, but I submit it may not be because they don’t believe in long contracts, they just need to reset so they aren’t paying exorbitant taxes. I forget who said it, but somebody high up recently said it’s smart to not pay taxes. The Dodgers will be back in the game in ‘24.

Last edited 1 month ago by Badger
Bumsrap

Badger, I liked what you said but my brain said no to getting into the math.

A couple of days ago Mark commented that you were something like a poster child for passive aggressive type comments. It came out of nowhere considering you haven’t commented there for a few moons. I think readers over there could see it was an odd comment at best so I let it pass.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bumsrap
Badger

Just an example of why I no longer post there.

Oldbear48

He has his moments. I just ignore all that stuff now. Keep it to baseball and nothing else.

Oldbear48

As for Ohtani next year, some are predicting a contract north of 400 million. Is anyone here really comfortable with a contract that large? I question the need. Ohtani is basically a DH type player who can pitch. But is he all by himself a difference maker?

Singing the Blue

Ohtani is basically two players, each probably worth 200 million by themselves. So 400 million doesn’t seem at all out of range. Lots of people expect it to go over 500 million.

His total bWAR last year was 9.6. I think that 1 WAR is considered worth about $8MM these days (Badger’s the expert on this, so he can correct me if I’m wrong).
Based on Ohtani’s 2022 WAR and $/WAR, he was worth about 75 million in salary for just 2022 alone!

His ability to both pitch and hit at an All Star level make him a total outlier in terms of assigning value to him.

Bumsrap

And when injured he takes two players out of the game. The Dodgers would have to let him have most of the DH at bats.

Oldbear48

I agree and I also think the salaries are ridiculous. Now Ohtani would definitely put butts in the seats, but does he guarantee wins in the win column? I am extremely skeptical he is worth that much cash. I think they would be better served spreading the wealth around rather than going in whole hog on a single player. He hasn’t made that much of a difference with the Angels.

Singing the Blue

His upside, roster wise, is that he only takes up one roster space while doing the work of two players.

Dodgers have already decided to have one player take up most of the DH at bats by signing JDM.

I’m really undecided as to whether Ohtani will be worth what he gets so I’m going to let AF make that decision and I’ll be OK with whatever he decides. I can certainly understand those of you who would want to pass and divide that money up among a number of players.

Oldbear48

I agree. I just cannot see that kind of contract for just one player. Especially if it limits what you can do with the rest of your roster. Urias extension will be on the agenda, as will a couple of other decisions.

Badger

I’m an expert at nothing these days Jefe. I guess and I ask questions but I’m studying less and less with each passing year.

A few years ago the $WAR projection was supposed to be $10m in ‘22. It didn’t get that high, $8.5m I believe. What will it be in 10 years? I see no projections on that. And what are the 10 year projections for these guys signing contracts now? Again, nothing. Ohtani will get more than Trout’s $426.5 million deal, and he’ll probably earn more per year than Aaron Judge’s $40 million annual average value. He will be 30 in the first year of that deal. It’s seemingly safe to say he’ll earn his money for a few years. Doing what he does for 10+ years? I doubt it.

There will be only a few teams in on it, and we know who those teams are. LA is of course one of those teams. Would I do it? With OPM, of course I would do it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Badger
Bumsrap

As an owner I would want to pay Ohtani each year starting with 2024:
$50M, $45M, $40M, $35M, $30M, $25M, $20M, $15M, $10M, with an opt out after 4 years. That should be a $30M AAV.

STB, it’s true that Ohtani is a 2 for one player but If he doesn’t DH when he pitches and pitches every 5th or 6th day, then maybe he is more like 1.2 players.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bumsrap
Badger

You’re on the right track Bum, but I think you need one more $35m in the middle and 2 $15s at the end of that. If he does again next year what he’s done the last 2 years what I’m reading says he’s likely to get an AAV of $40m+ for 10 years. Who’s going to do that? Cohen would. The Yankees might. Will the Dodgers?

Singing the Blue

Valid point, Fred. He doesn’t do both in any single game.

As an owner I would want to pay him zip, zero, nada and have him volunteer to play for free. Neither one of us is going to get our wish.

Bobby

Hi, wondering if I can come in and join the party?

Singing the Blue

I just had a cup of coffee and a couple of crackers. Your day seems to be going better than mine, Jeff.

Enjoy!

Singing the Blue

Hey Bobby, welcome to the party!

Fred Vogel

As long as you keep the Kings relevant.  😀 

Singing the Blue

Trevor is taking a positive attitude about his future in MLB considering he may be pitching for the Long Island Ducks in 2023.

His videos are really quite good. He could eventually be a very good pitching coach if he doesn’t do something to get permanently banned from the sport.

Singing the Blue

Attention, Please:

The San Diego Padres, while not necessarily trying to trade Trent Grisham and or Ha-Seong Kim, are willing to listen to trade offers.

Anybody here interested in either player? What do you offer?

P.S. Things are slow right now so don’t ruin my day by telling me that Preller won’t trade with us.

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