Saturday, November 12, 2011

Transaction Reaction: Jonathan Papelbon and Jamey Carroll

Update: The Phillies do not finalize the deal for Madson, and instead sign Jonathan Papelbon to a 4 year, $50 million dollar deal. This deal also includes a possible vesting year added on if certain benchmarks are met.

  • So it seemed temporarily that the Phillies had read our esteemed blog and re-assessed their closer situation. The deal with Madson was never finalized, and for a few hours it looked as though the Phillies had come to their senses regarding what a closer is worth to a baseball team. $44 million is just too much for a guy with only a short track record of closing, right? Exactly. They decided that the guy they were going to invest $44 million in, wasn't a "sure thing" given the short track record of Madson, so they shelled out an additional 6+ million, and maybe even more if the extra year vests later on to get Papelbon. The six million dollar difference alone is nearer to what a decent closer should make in today's environment. Due to 3-out saves, saves with 3-run leads, and limited use.....the fact is that closer's have far less impact on the game than this contract shows. Baseball Prospectus showed us in 2005 that the closer rarely gets the highest leverage outs of any given game due to their inefficient use. I do think Papelbon will be an above average closer, but any hope that Papelbon will be lights out and make this deal close to reasonable is wiped away by the vesting option for the fifth year. From the Phillies perspective at this point, you either get a guy who performs well that you are overpaying, or a guy that pitches poorly that you are dramatically overpaying for one less year... Not ideal. (Also, do we really know that the difference between Papelbon and Madson is worth 1.3 million a year, plus a possible extra year AND a compensation draft pick? My humble opinion is that the Phillies only compounded their mistake from a few days ago.)

The Twins signed Jamey Carroll to a two-year, $7 million dollar deal. This deal also has an extra year at $2 million that vests if Carroll gets 401 plate appearances in 2013. This extra year vests based on durability, but is actually a player option if Carroll meets the criteria.

  • The Twins plan to use Carroll as their everyday shortstop, which is interesting given his age and recent utility work. However, I like the approach of avoiding the high-risk, upper tier shortstops since they will not be competing within the next few years anyway. This might be a fair deal given Carroll's recent offensive production, but I would think his durability and defense will be a concern at the shortstop position every day. The run on low-level middle infielders has been interesting, and it looks like teams are recognizing the dearth of talent after you get passed Rollins and Reyes. A low-risk move like this allows the Twins to try out young players in a year or two and see if anyone can provide positive value, without breaking the bank with dead money sitting on the bench.

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