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What Price Is Right? (Part 2)

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Now that we see what some possibilities are about his production and how it effects his salary and worth, let's take a look at some deals for pitchers under team control.

Jon Lester has been worth 6.9 wins over his 2+ seasons (354 IP), and he was worth 5 wins last year. We will call him a 4 win pitcher. He signed a 5 year deal worth $30 million with a team option for $13 buying out one year of team control, three years of arbitration, . Cole Hamels, who was entering his first year of arbitration as a Super-2 guy, signed a 3-year/$20.5 million deal. He has averaged 3.3 wins over the last three years (not quite full year in 06), so we will call him a 4 win pitcher going forward (averaged 4.2 the last two years). Ervin Santana finally put it together last year (5.8 WAR) and was rewarded with a deal pretty similar to Lester's (4/$29 million with an option to buy-out his first FA year at $13 million). We will also call him about a 4 win player going forward. Here is a breakdown of their contracts similar to that of Price's.

Lester

WAR Win Value Worth Salary* Salary Savings
2009 (TC) 4 4.50 18.00 0.50 6 -5.50
2010 (Arb1) 4 4.95 19.80 7.92 6 1.92
2011 (Arb2) 4 5.45 21.78 13.07 6 7.07
2012 (Arb3) 4 5.99 23.96 14.37 6 8.37
2013 (FA1) 4 6.59 26.35 26.35 6 20.35
2014 (FA2 (TO)) 4 7.25 28.99 28.99 13 15.99
Total 24 34.72 138.88 91.21 43 48.21

Hamels (super 2)

WAR Win Value Worth Salary* Salary Savings
2009 (Arb1) 4 4.50 18.00 0.50 4.35 -3.85
2010 (Arb2) 4 4.95 19.80 7.92 6.65 1.27
2011 (Arb3) 4 5.45 21.78 13.07 9.5 3.57
Total 12 14.90 59.58 21.49 20.5 0.99

E. Santana

WAR Win Value Worth Salary* Salary Savings
2009 (Arb1) 4 4.50 18.00 0.50 3.8 -3.30
2010 (Arb2) 4 4.95 19.80 7.92 6 1.92
2011 (Arb3) 4 5.45 21.78 13.07 8 5.07
2012 (FA1) 4 5.99 23.96 14.37 11.2 3.17
2013 (FA2 (TO)) 4 6.59 26.35 26.35 13 13.35
Total 20 27.47 109.89 62.22 42 20.22

Salary* is what we can guess they would have earned in arb./team control/free-agency.

The Hamels deal is the only one that does not seem to make a whole lot of sense. If he pitches like a 4 win pitcher they just about break even (and they are paying more up front in a bad economy) because they are only buying out arbitration years. If he ends up a 5 win pitcher over the life of the deal they only save about $6 million, but if he dips at all they will lose money.

The Lester and Santana deals are great steals. The break even point is below 2.5 wins for both pitchers. It would be pretty surprising for either to fall off to that point.

SO what does this mean for a possible Price extension? Well, assuming the Rays could secure a deal that buys out any free agency the cost up front would seemingly be worth it. The value of the deal would appear to be even better if they backloaded the contract with team options. Either way it is an interesting exercise and topic of discussion.