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# How Much Are The Rays Saving On James Shields?

It has been two full seasons since James Shields signed his potential seven year, \$44 million dollar contract. In reality, all that is guaranteed is four years and \$11.25 million, but the way things look now, an option year or two is likely. The Rays way is all about getting value for dollars. We need value, but lack the dollars.

The Shields extension has been lauded in the sabermetric community as being one of the best deals in recent years. And it really is in terms of real dollars for production. Using WAR dollars, Shields has been worth \$37.6 million dollars over the past two seasons while earning just \$2.5. That's a fantastic value, but it's not "real" dollars.

James Shields will undoubtedly earn his contract. In fact, he already has. In his career, he has given the Rays \$63 million dollars worth of production for \$2.9 million dollars. If he maxes out the contract (years and dollars), his WAR value would be somewhere between \$100-\$150 million dollars.

But how many -- if any -- real dollars are the Rays saving?

I'm not usually one for estimations and assumptions, but for this post I use some simple ones. Let's toss out a few guidelines.

First, estimated WAR. In his full seasons (2007-2009), Shields has posted WAR of 4.5, 4.3, and most recently 4.1. For the first part of the estimation I'll assume the -0.2 WAR trend continues over the next few seasons. In the next portion, I'll use the standard -0.5 WAR adjustment.

Second, estimated salary. A few things for the seasons considered to be arbitration years. I used the 20/40/60% scale to estimate the amount of the raise. To get the salary amount I took the estimated number of WAR and used the 10% WAR escalating scale. Since 2009 actually happened, and we know Shields earned a 4.1 WAR, I'll use that as an example.

Let's take that 4.1 and multiply it by the value of one WAR, which is recognized as 4.4 in 2009. We get an estimated salary of \$18.04. Since he would be arbitration 1 this off-season, we'll say that his salary should be 20% of that \$18.04 million dollar estimate, or \$3.6 million dollars. From there you can figure out the rest of the table.

 Est1 WAR WAR Value Est. Salary Arb Raise 2009 4.1 4.4 18.04 3.608 2010 3.9 4.8 18.72 7.488 2011 3.7 5.2 19.24 11.544

That's using the Shield trend of -0.2 WAR going forward. Here is the standard -0.5 WAR.

 Est2 WAR WAR Value Est. Salary Arb Raise 2009 4.1 4.4 18.04 3.608 2010 3.6 4.8 17.28 6.912 2011 3.1 5.2 16.12 9.672

Now that we have the estimated salaries, we can compare them to actual salaries. Another quick note here, Shields' contract maxes out at 2014. For the purpose of this exercise I'm buying out the final two seasons of the contract for the stated \$1.5 million dollar buyout.

 Est1 Actual Savings 2010 3.6 2.5 1.1 2011 7.5 4.25 3.25 2012 11.5 8.5* 3 Total 22.6 15.25 7.35 Est2 Actual Savings 2010 3.6 2.5 1.1 2011 6.9 4.25 2.65 2012 9.6 8.5* 1.1 Total 20.1 15.25 4.85

*Includes \$7 million dollar base salary for 2012 + \$1.5 million dollar buyout of future years.

Because of the extension Shields has earned \$2.5 million dollars over the last two seasons. These seasons were team controlled, meaning the Rays basically could name their own price. Let's estimate (conservatively) that he would've earned \$800k over those seasons and subtract that from the savings. Even with the conservative estimates of -0.5 WAR decline, and team controlled salary years, Shields's extension should save the Rays in the neighborhood of \$4-6 million dollars. Of course, he could easily exceed these projections as well as come short. For most teams, the difference may not seem like a whole lot in terms of real dollars, but the Rays could do alot with an extra \$5 million; also keep in mind the value aspect.

All in all, the Shields extension remains just another example of "ball on a budget."