Ubaldo just won't leave the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario
My intentions today were to revisit the Indians of Cleveland’s past here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, but the charismatic enigma, Ubaldo Jimenez got in the way once again.
Of course, Jimenez may be a part of Cleveland's past in a few days, so perhaps I ended up where I wanted to go to begin with.
Now I'm not fan of Ubaldo, and I don't think that I ever will be. He was dominant in August and September, but I still found it hard to watch him pitch, preferring to listen to Hamilton instead. It's a repercussion from the previous 18 months in an Indians uniform that did it, and I am nothing if not stubborn. I'm a firm believer in "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
So he's gone, and I should be good with that...but...
...the Indians and how they spend their money always intrigues me, and this offseason has been no exception. Last season saw a new direction for the Indians, as they laid out two relatively major deals to two former all-stars to take their talents to Cleveland. Many thought it was a sign of things to come.
The loyal Indians’ followers that really paid attention realized that this wasn’t really the case.
The Indians were dealing with a money window of sorts, taking advantage of some quirks in a new system that would affect teams’ abilities to sign players thanks to money allotments in the rookie draft. The front office also realized that a new TV deal would send salaries through the roof in 2014, and needed to jump before they couldn’t afford to.
Where the rubber meets the road though is when a team legitimately thinks they can contend for a World Series. How far will they go to do it?
There’s that phenomenal 1997 model that the Florida Marlins took when they spent ludicrous amounts of money to sign Bobby Bonilla, Alex Fernandez, Jim Eisenreich and Moises Alou. At the Trade deadline, they dealt for Darren Daulton and Craig Counsell. The previous year, they signed Al Leiter, Kevin Brown and Livan Hernandez.
They build a World Series contender in two seasons, then sold them off one-by-one. I'm not going to tell a lie. If it brought the Indians a title, I'd jump on board that train wreck in a heart beat, and not care about the next five or six seasons.
The Indians are trying to walk that fine line of profitability and building that responsible small-market teams take, and the 2013-2014 offseason has proven that. They’ve lost key pieces to the 2013 playoff team, and not really been able to replace them with suitable pieces outside of the organization.
Instead, they’ve looked for relative bargains to restock, as well as looking internally. They've been fairly succesful in that process. But you can make a legitimate case that what they’ve done this year is exactly what they’ve done in the past, albeit with a better nucleus than in recent years.
Is this team a better nucleus of talent than the 2007 team? What about that 2005 team?
I would say no.
Do they have a better manager?
I would say yes.
So I turn to Ubaldo Jimenez, wondering if signing him can truly make a difference…wondering if he’s more important than Justin Masterson…and wondering if the Indians should pull the trigger to sign him. It’s a complicated ride, that involves the aforementioned Masterson, Jake Westbrook, A.J. Burnett, the Toronto Blue Jays, Ervin Santana, a big smile, and some hope for 2014.
Alright, it’s not all those things, but it’s worth a weavy walkthrough anyways, even if it’s below zero out here.
The Saga of Ubaldo Jimenez gets more and more interesting by the day. Jon Heyman from CBSSports.com is reporting that a couple of “rival” GMs are suggesting that Ubaldo Jimenez is willing to consider a three-year, $39 million deal. It’s believed that Jimenez’s initial asking price was five-years and $75 million, but considering the ups and downs he’s taken over the past three seasons, it’s hard to believe he was expecting that much in the long run.
As early as October 9, I predicted that Jimenez would see a ceiling of three-years and $39 million, and as low as a floor of three-years and $33 million. I will admit that I didn’t think a one-year “pillow” contract would be possible at the time, but I’m now starting to think that he would consider it if he feels that his turnaround last season was a long-term development. It’s clear that salary-wise, GM’s aren’t quite so sure.
What’s interesting about that three-year, $39 million dollar contract possibility is that it’s in the ballpark in many ways to what Scott Kazmir signed with the Oakland A’s way back on December 4th. Kazmir’s deal was for two-years and $22 million, so obviously the years were shorter, and the money as well, but it’s distinctly possible that Ubaldo’s number will come down a bit more over the next week or two, especially with the emergence of A.J. Burnett back into the market.
What’s interesting to me with regards to comparing the Kazmir deal to a potential Ubaldo deal is the weight that teams put into both pitchers and what they project into the future. Remember, Kazmir didn’t play major league baseball for two seasons, and hadn’t really been all that good since his 2008 season. He was serviceable in 2009, but was one of the worst pitchers in baseball in 2010.
Steamer and Oliver projections share the unknown with Kazmir, as Oliver only has him making 17 starts over 88 innings and Steamer has him making 27 starts over 163 innings of work. Both expect those innings to be fairly solid, but there lies the problem with Kazmir. He has an arm that hasn’t thrown 158 innings or anything close to it since 2010 at the major league level, and while I think he’s primed to have a good year, there are several questions regarding longevity that are legitimate.
It’s a different story for Jimenez. While he was not really good for a two-year stretch with the Indians, the one thing you can absolutely point to is his durability, and both projection systems have him making 30+ starts over 180+ innings, but his ERA and FIP are extremely similar to Kazmir’s.
Of course these are projections, and I don’t put much weight into them, but it does give a bit of an insight into how teams are likely going to be looking at Jimenez going forward. The A’s saw Kazmir as a pitcher whose potential performance was equivalent to the top four or five free agent starters available, and made a pre-emptive strike. They “overpaid” for a player who some may have not valued because of his recent body of work, but perhaps “underpaid” based on his 2013 performance and potential 2014 and beyond performance if he continues to improve.
Jimenez at a deal anywhere close to Kazmir’s is a relative no-brainer for many clubs if it turns out to be true, and should be a consideration for the Indians, depending on what happens going forward with Justin Masterson. There are a lot of things to consider though.
- Is Justin Masterson going to price himself out of the Indians’ market this offseason to the point that the Indians realize they aren’t going to be able to sign him?
- Is A.J. Burnett’s emergence into the market going to drive down Ubaldo’s salary demands even more, that is, if you are to believe Heyman’s two “rival GMs.”
- Is signing Ubaldo Jimenez (and ultimately trading or signing Justin Masterson) worth the draft pick compensation they would receive?
- Will the Indians sign a pitcher to a long term deal?
Let’s take this one bullet at a time.
I’m not going to quibble over the years at the contract that Justin Masterson is worth and will ultimately sign. There’s been a lot of talk all over the land of the internet about that, and there are good cases for big salaries in the Anibal Sanchez range, and good cases for salaries below that. None of that really is pertinent right now, as there are legit questions regarding what he’ll be worth post 2014 when his contract is actually up.
Here’s what we know Masterson will do. We know he’ll make over 29 starts, as he’s done every year since 2010. We know that he’ll pitch over 180 innings, as he’s done in every season since 2010. We know that his ERA and FIP will be solid, as will his xFIP. Now, he had that 2012 season, so there is questions there, but his two best seasons right now slightly outweigh his struggle. We know he will strike out between 7-9 batters a game, although he had a two-K-per-game spike last year. We know he’ll walk three or so hitters a game. I’m not a big believer in WAR for pitchers, but I’ll just throw out that he’ll be at least two wins above replacement, if not more, just for the sake of discussion.
Health isn’t an issue.
What Masterson will sell is that his 2013 season was his first foray into his prime, and that it’s only going to get better. What the Indians will sell is that he’s gone forward and backwards over the previous four seasons. What’s the likely outcome of that? The Indians have curtailed talks as of now with Masterson for a long-term extension, and are now focusing on a one year deal. Just looking at it in a bubble, it’s fairly normal procedure for that to happen, so not a concern. Now, it is curious at the timing of it all, since we are entering that time when these other starters are going to be signing. It may be a passive-aggressive attempt by the Tribe to throw some doubt at Masterson in negotiations for a long-term deal.
Make no bones about it. The Indians will likely sign Masterson to a one-year deal, and all things considered, will then re-open talks for a long-term deal regardless of what they do with Ubaldo or anyone else.
The question becomes whether or not Masterson will bank on 2014 to be his cash card. It’s a gamble for sure, but if the Indians don’t get close to whatever he legitimately wants, he just won’t sign a deal. It’s really that simple. We can banter around numbers all day long, but his agent and Masterson have nothing but time.
For all of the hullabaloo surrounding Matt Garza’s four-year, $50 million deal, with a $13 million vesting option, it wasn’t horrifically under what many speculated, and it was in the ballpark of the four-year, $52 million that Edwin Jackson made, and the four-year, $58 million that Mark Buehrle made. Garza’s younger than Buerhle and better than Jackson, but there are just so many questions about his health going forward. While I thought he’d be in that Buehrle range, I see why he signed for what he did. I think the Brewers got a bargain, and I ultimately believe Masterson is worth more in terms of years (five) and $$$, but it does give us an indicator as to what the Indians will offer him, if they offer him a deal.
Just for the sake of the argument, would the Indians offer Masterson a four-year extension, then tack on that arbitration year as well? The deal would officially be a four-year, $50 million, but adding that fifth year, it would turn into essentially a five-year, $60 million deal? It would be unprecedented in years for a pitcher this close to free agency, but if they are legitimately considering a starter, I think they might. More likely a scenario would have Antonetti offering a three-year extension worth three-years and $40 million, plus a $10 million deal for this year, so it would look like a four-year, $50 million deal. See how that works?
I’m just speculating, but that seems a sensible direction for talks.
What has to be considered is if the Indians will really offer that much, and on top of that, will Masterson bank on a big 2014? I’m 50-50 on this. I think the Indians will make a move for a starter this year. What happens over the next 10 days with regards to Ubaldo may ultimately tell the tale. If the Indians sign Ubaldo to that three-year deal or something else, it could be an indicator that Masterson isn’t going to sign, wants too much money, or the Indians were low-balling him.
All are possible in this case, but Ubaldo could be the lynch-pin, or, Masterson could be the lynch-pin, depending on how you look at it.
What really becomes interesting is if the Indians sign Ubaldo to a one-year “pillow-contract.” Then the long-term deal for Masterson will remain in play, and these two will literally be competing against each other. That surely would be fun.
If it comes down to who the Indians would rather sign at that point, it will likely come down to a head-to-head decision. Their body of work is so interesting in that the Ubaldo Jimenez had dominating stuff to start with, broke out at the start of 2010, then came back to earth starting that year at the all-star break. He crashed in Cleveland, then slowly-but-surely rebounded in 2013, and was a top five pitcher the last two months of the season.
Masterson was a reliever in Boston, and a starter in Cleveland. His first full year as a starter in 2010 was a project in which it was a slow build to brilliance, really. In three of Masterson’s last four “starts,” he went seven-plus in each, giving up an earned run in each outing. He made one final start afterwards in which he only went 3 1/3, but was fairly dominant as well. Then the Indians moved him to the pen to control his innings. He exploded in 2011, with a phenomenal season, was adequate at best in 2012, then rebounded with his outstanding 2013 season.
Ubaldo has a few more years of back story, but Masterson has more recent sustained success. Who has more upside? The eyes are left to the beholder. 2014 could be fun, should the Indians get that pillow deal.
The point here is that these two are wrapped together right now, and will be until one signs with the Indians or elsewhere. Then let the games begin.
The biggest factor for Ubaldo Jimenez right now outside the organization is one A.J. Burnett, who recently suggested that he’s going to play this season. Without getting into the teams that are looking for a starter, it appears as though Burnett is looking either at staying in Pittsburgh, or moving on to Baltimore, who is all over Burnett right now. It’s expected that Burnett is going to sign a one-year deal, which should make the amount interesting.
The Indians should be in on him, since they could nab him for one-year. How much is debatable. I’ve seen some speculate that it will be in the $18 million range. I chuckle at that. My guess is that since it’s for one year, you could see it be in the $14-$15 million range, but more like $12-13 million at the end of the day. If it’s a two-year deal, for sure something in the realm of $24 or $25 million.
Regardless, Burnett takes another team off the list, and likely moves Ubaldo’s money down a bit. That’s not a lock, but likely. Many expect Burnett to sign first, but I could see a situation in which someone swoops in and lowballs Ubaldo a bit to try and get him to sign first.
Either way, Burnett helps the sign-ability of Ubaldo in theory, although I’m not sure that Ubaldo was in Baltimore’s plans to begin with. We shall see. It’s easy to speculate based on the stories after 24 hours, but I’m still under the belief that Ubaldo’s pay window was the same two months ago as it is today. You can spin it however you want, but it’s really hard to justify paying a guy that was literally at-or-below replacement level one season $15 million over five years.
But I’m jumping ahead.
There’s been a ton of talk about draft pick compensation, both what we gain with Ubaldo Jimenez not signing, and why the Indians wouldn’t trade Justin Masterson. Before I get to that, let me just say this.
If you want to roll through an interesting read, take a look at IBI’s Jeff Ellis’s Ultimate Draft pieces over the past month and pay particular attention to their top twenty picks over the years. What stands out is just how limited most of those picks are with regards to talent, and how miss they are as opposed to hit.
I don’t have the data sitting in front of me, but there is no legitimate proof that any first round pick that the Indians take will amount to anything, let alone equate even one season of Ubaldo or Masty. Sure, the payoff could be a ten year vet or an all-star, but what are the percentages, and would you put those percentages ahead of a 2014 season in which the Indians could contend for the World Series if they were given a chance to.
It’s ultimately painful to listen to the scuttlebutt that building a long-term winner as though it was mutually exclusive to winning now. If you are doing things the right way, you roll big-time players into big-time prospects while still winning. Are the sandwich picks that the Indians would receive more valuable than their second round pick with regards to prospects (not the money slotted)? Sure, depending on the draft, the team making the draft, and the needs of a team. While you can point to the Indians shifting their drafts over the years, I would agree that it looks promising, but are you convinced enough that the Indians will make the right pick?
Is that pick, likely three or four years away more valuable to the Indians with the 4 or 5% chance that player has to make it to the Majors with the Tribe and being average to above average?
In Ubaldo’s case, you take it if he walks since it’s too late to trade him, and when they could trade him, he had no value. In Masterson’s case, if you get a prospect that’s in Triple or Double A and is a major league lock…uh…do I have to go any further? You can debate what the Indians would get for Masterson, and that’s fair, but if you get the right asset or assets, it’s identical to a draft pick.
Seriously, how many No. 1’s over the past ten years are here?
My last point of contention is that the Indians have never had it in their history to sign players to long-term deals either entering their last year of their arbitration, entering their first year of free agency or after growing out of a third-tier, minor league signing.
I’ve read several interesting pieces over the years about signing pitchers to long-term deals (over two years) as being bad for business, and recall Mark Shapiro talking about that in an interview a few years ago, although he did delineate that it was a case-by-case issue.
I don’t subscribe to that, by the way.
The Indians did sign Jake Westbrook to a three-year extension in 2007 prior to his final arbitration year. The Indians signed him to that extension just after the 2007 started. He had already agreed to a one-year, $6.1 million contract in his last arbitration season, but the Indians front-loaded some of the $33 million into that first arbitration year.
Now, Westbrook and Masterson aren’t the same pitcher, nor is he the same as Ubaldo Jimenez. But, there are interesting comparisons to Westbrook and Masterson that are worth checking into. At the time that Westbrook signed his deal in 2007, he was well respected around the league, and especially in Cleveland. With another good 2007 season, it was believed that Westbrook could enter the 2008 season ready to make a boatload of money over a long period of time.
At the time of the deal, the 29-year-old Westbrook was entering his seventh season and had won 44 games between 2004 through 2006. The only pitchers ahead of his win total were Johan Santana, Kenny Rogers and Jon Garland over that same stretch. If you add Lee to that list and take off Garland, they were the only four pitchers to have won 14 games each season over that same stretch. He pitched in 210 innings or more over that stretch, had a 3.3 WAR or better, and had a FIP between 3.88 and 4.04, and an xFIP between 3.62 and 4.00. In other words, you knew EXACTLY what you were going to get.
Here’s what Westbrook was looking at though. Ted Lilly had signed a four year, $40 million deal. Jeff Suppan had signed a four-year, $42 million deal. Barry Zito had just signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Giants and Gil Meche had signed a five year, $55 million deal with the Kansas City Royals. Things were looking good for Westbrook. He likely could have written a massive deal after the season somewhere between that 4 and 7 seasons, and $55 and $127 million deal, regardless. Of course, that’s speculation, but likely true.
Shapiro, at the time, was hesitant, but said that sometimes “you have to put analysis and statistics aside and ask yourself if it’s a guy you want to bet on.”
Westbrook struggled through April of 2008 before looking good late in the month, but ended up missing most of May and June. He returned and pitched well for the rest of the year though, and things looked up. You know the rest.
Masterson has been similar in that he’s been the Indians most consistent starter over the past three season. At his best, he’s better than Westbrook, but 2012 showcased that he may not be as consistent. Upside is upside though, so Masterson should project higher than Westbrook. His upside FIP and xFIP is better, and his K-Rate showcases a guy that has put down mentality that is getting better. Of course, if you try and replicate Masterson’s delivery when compared to Westbrook, you would be kidding yourself.
There were the obvious big contracts this season as well, and Masterson should be looking at a good chunk of change, regardless of the players that are available next year. There are better starters, but it’s arguable how much better, and if Masterson goes out and improves upon 2014, he will be on the same playing field for sure. Like Westbrook, Masterson is respected, so he could command a few more dollars because of it.
That’s all arguable, but not a stretch by any means.
If the Indians could sign Masterson to a three-year, $33 million deal today, it would be done. They won’t be able to, as I’ve already mentioned. Jordan Bastian took note yesterday that Masterson is the Indians Union Rep, and he likely won’t take under market value because of it. Of course, we’re talking about that hybrid market value crossing this offseason to next, to the market is fluid, but five years will be his floor right now, IMO.
Now, back to Ubaldo. The difference between Westbrook and Ubaldo are obvious. Ubaldo’s upside is insanely higher than Westbrook, but Westbrook is clearly the more consistent pitcher. Westbrook also had that arbitration year buffer, which Ubie doesn’t have.
Comparing the two seems silly in that the Indians had time to talk to Westbrook, and Ubaldo eventually will head elsewhere.
So ask yourself this. Can the Indians sign Ubaldo for a Westbrook-like three-years, and $33 to $39 million? It doesn’t look like the books work for it, but if you sign Ubaldo now, you can deal Masterson, Asdrubal, or just eat it for one season, then let them both walk. You then have Ubaldo to a similar deal, that could be a bargain if he can replicate last season. Or, you can just sign both and be done with it.
If you can sign him to a one-year deal, you do it immediately.
The Indians aren’t there yet though.
My point by bringing up Westbrook is simply to note that even the most consistent starters are often not worth a long-term deal. It’s a gamble, and with Ubaldo, bigger than most based on the past three years with Cleveland.
But, is he worth the gamble?
I turn to an interesting piece from Jeff Sullivan over at fangraphs yesterday. Sullivan notes that while Ubaldo is a prize of free agency, he was at-or-below replacement in 2012. He asserts that they “should” represent immediate upgrades to the team they sign with. He then commits 200 innings and a three WAR for Jimenez, which is probably close to a lock for his innings, and perhaps some upside with his WAR, and plugs him into the Indians lineup.
He projects to a two wins added to the Indians.
Now, these are projections of course, and you can take them with a grain of salt. But that’s what’s enticing about Ubaldo. If the planets align, and Jimenez is good for a season, then he could present the Indians with three wins or more…or…he could revert to that replacement level player. It also doesn’t account for the future years of the deal, but I would say that two more years wouldn’t be all that big of a deal.
So do you risk a draft pick that may or may not pay off, and $11 to $13 million to improve your team two games for 2014?
How big would two games have been in 2013?
You now have my answer.
Sign Ubaldo Jimenez and take that chance.
What was that saying..."Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me... You can't get fooled again!"
Maybe you can...
Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes and no.....I don't believe you can sign Ubaldo now and afford a Masterson extension by themselves...but if you were to move some money (ie, Bourn) then having both of them around beyond 2014 starts to look a lot easier. You can argue how realistic it would be to deal Bourn..but if he bounces back, would only have 2 years left at a price that isn't outrageous given the current market.
As for draft picks, history shows they're pretty much worthless. I'm thinking names like Mills, Miller, Crowe, Sowers, Pomeranz, White...the list goes on and on and those are just the first rounders.
Every ten years there is an exception that proves the rule - Sabathia in the 90's, Kipnis in the 00's. Maybe Lindor will be the exception in the 10's.
But when it comes to trading for prospects from other organizations, I'm thinking names like Lofton, Choo, Cabrera, Santana, Gomes, Brantley, Lee, Sizemore, Phillips...you get the idea.
I'd much rather trade Masterson than let him walk and get a compensatory draft pick. But they won't trade him if they're in contention and they most likely will be in contention.
Capuano and Maholm would be depth options BOR arms for this season. I think they would like to lock up Masterson, but if they can't it seems likely they would attempt to resign Jimenez but on their terms. In the end they could miss out on resigning Masterson and / or Jimenez. In that case they go into next offseason in trouble, IMHO.
Bottom line: The Indians don't have much time: Make a quick decision on Masterson (and hasn't that been decided already: They're going for a 1-year contract, not a multi-year deal), trade Cabrera if needed, and resign Jimenez. Capuano and Maholm would be depth options for the 5 spot at best; Jimenez would be much more: a FOR starte to take the pressure off Kluber, McAllister, and Salazar, two of which are coming off of injuries in 2013, and one who has dealt with injuries in the past and who is still on a bit of an innings limit in 2014.
I also, think they should wear out the option of resigning Masterson before they do anything with him. But if all indications are that he's gone, I think they have to seriously consider trading him, only if they bring back big league talent in return. However, if they are out of contention, they should flip him for a cpl big league ready prospects.
stupid autocorrect gets me all the time.
You bring out a good point. I support the idea of trading Masterson for prospects but only if honey feel he won't resign. Any potential draft pk won't offer the same immediate return that several prospects would. Furthermore, it would actually be cheaper for the Tribe to get several players that are near big league ready, than to acq. one comp pk that might / might not develop in 2/5 yrs.
For example, the Brewers have the highest non-protected pick this year....prior to 2012 though, their pick would have been protected and they could have signed Ubado and not lost a 1st round pick. The Mets last year had the 11th pick....if the old system was in place, there's a very good chance Bourn is in NY and not Cleveland.
As for what we can get at the deadline for Masterson, if we're not in contention, the Cubs got CJ Edwards and more for Matt Garza, a similar pitcher.
I'd rather have CJ Edwards than give the clown college who handles our drafts 10 extra picks and the associated money. You'd do more for the fans by lighting the money on fire for added warmth during the April games than using it on the guys they draft.
I agree with you that a compensation pick is nothing to worry about. I could care less if the Indians get a pick for Jimenez or Masterson. But my point is from a bargaining perspective that the Indians are in a good spot with both because of the new system since teams just don't want to forfeit that money. Which is why I am all for keeping Masterson all year. Give him the qualifying offer, watch his market and demands shrink, and then sign him to a deal late in the offseason like they may ultimately do with Jimenez. And if that risk doesn't pan out, then fine, you still get the compensation pick. To me, the opportunity to keep him and at worst get a compensation pick trumps any value you get in a trade now (they absolutely are not trading him right now anyway....if they traded him it would be at the deadline, but how much value would they get at that time anyway).
However, we must balance it. Pointing to the Sabathia as a justification for the value of compensation picks is challenging.
In terms of WAR value, just taking an individual from the Sabathia deal, in Brantley we have acquired 4.6.
His control cWAR, average WAR of years under control being about 1.5.
A draft pick with a cWAR between 1.5-2.5 being regarded as a successful hit.
Based on draft statistics from 1990 to 2006 the odds of finding such a player in picks 26-30 of the first round of the draft are 10%.
Of course if the team has a protected pick, then the comp pick will be even later somewhere in the 30's.
Are compensation picks an interesting asset, absolutely.
But even in one of our least popular deals, the one for Sabathia we received far more expected value from the PTBNL than we can reasonably expect from a compensation pick.
Absolutely. I do agree with your central point, that the Indians have far more financial flexibility in 2015 than they have in 2014. By my estimates, as currently constructed their payroll will be about $7M lower in 2015 than in 2014, and that goes to $10M+ if you decline Aviles' option. I also think there's plenty of room to go to $90-95M this year, but the Dolans cry poverty, so we're stuck.
The only thing to keep in mind is that these numbers explode in 2016 with a lot of key contributors hitting ARB and almost no money coming off the books. So any 3 year deal will require some creativity.
I forgot guys like Axford, Pestano, and Tomlin which will likely push the arb figures much higher than I suggested below. That said, we could see the Tribe lockup Kipnis and Brantley long term which may help control (budget for) their cost going forward.
You may be right that he only gets $12-13M on a 1 year deal. But Kuroda got $16M on a 1-year deal with the Yanks this winter. Kuroda is actually 2 years older than Burnett...and a case can be made either way on who was better the last 2 seasons (both were very good). If Burnett really wanted, I think he could hold out for similar money on a 1-year deal. It's him or Arroyo basically if you don't want to give up a draft pick...
Don't think he ends up getting $16M...but think $14-15M is very reasonable/doable for him.
And I agree that the Tribe's history in the draft isn't good...but something to ponder....the Tribe could have 3 first round picks this year. If we had had 3 first rounders in 2012...do they still draft Naquin? I think it's a fair question....with 2 extra picks (or more importantly the money associated with them) do they still go safe on Naquin...or do they take a shot on the injured Giolito? Or go Wacha? Or someone else? Or do they still decide on Naquin? Obviously we won't ever know, but having the extra picks/extra money in the draft can afford you the luxury of taking bigger risks/chances on high upside players IMO. Can go well overslot if you need to with the extra money potentially.
Also not saying the draft pick is a reason to avoid signing Ubaldo....simply think it's something that has to be factored in to the decision, whatever that decision is.
Also, can't the Tribe still trade their 1st round competitive balance pick? That is one trade chip that is very valuable IMO and hasn't been talked about. Getting a pick for Ubaldo could make it easier for the Tribe to part with that pick to improve the club. Still would have 2 picks...and the Ubaldo pick would actually be slightly higher than the Competitive Balance pick. Again, not the reason to avoid signing Ubaldo, as you may still not trade the pick (and maybe we can't anymore?), but just one more thing to weigh....
Yeah...$13M is an extremely low arby estimate. Don't forget about Axford, who we can control thru arbitratoin beyond this year. If he has a good year, I'm not sure the Tribe just lets him go.
It's obviously extremely early so hard to say exactly who will still be here, who will be non-tendered, how well guys play....but $25-30M in arby guys is not an extreme estimate IMO if you keep Axford and the other bullpen guys. Consider the list of guys that could be arby eligible next year: Kipnis, Brantley, Chisenhall, Axford, Shaw, Pestano, Scrabble, Outman, Carrasco, Tomlin, Wood, and Herrmann. Sure you could non-tender several of those guys, but good years from some of those pen guys and you'll want to keep them around....
Since these contracts are always viewed in context of other, competitive deals I'm not sure there is ever one right answer. Nevertheless, with Masty and Asdrubal walking at years end, and the Tribe seeing some salary relief in return, you wonder if a short deal is really possible with Ubaldo, like one or maybe two years (even if it's disguised as a deal with a mutual option for the third year, or a player opt-out option at second year end). If that time horizon is really on the table the Tribe would have to be inclined to do it, just because of the low risk.
There's no way of knowing for sure, but I think $13M for ARB guys in 2015 is way low if anything. Kipnis, Brantley, Chisenhall (if he turns into an average regular) is probably $13M right there. Add in Shaw, Carrasco, Outman, Scrabble, Pestano, you're probably up to $20M easily.
I am one of those that worry about Ubaldo. Even when he pitched well last year, I lacked confidence and faith in him, and had to watch with one eye open. I'm just not a fan of that delivery and that mental makeup. Hopefully he really did turn things around....but I still question whether his focus was not from getting his mechanics straightened out but because he was pitching for a contract. And I worry that people are throwing way too much faith in Mickey Callaway after one year. I have always loved him, but this ungodly amount of trust in him is a little over the top.
If the Indians sign Ubaldo to a three year deal for anywhere between 30-40 million, I can live with that. It is a risk but compared to the market would be an undermarket risk. But if they don't sign him I won't be upset about it either. I am literally right down the middle with this. Had he still been looking at 5/75 I would say no way, but the lower cost combined with his showing last year is intriguing enough to me where I would be fine with the gamble - yet okay if they didn't. If that makes sense. Lord, I sound like a politician now where I am for both sides!
Also, while the draft pick is something that has been focused on, and the Indians draft history says that we shouldn't worry about keeping a pick or getting a pick.....I point to the recent trades of Sabathia and Lee to show that even in cases we deal for "for sure" AA/AAA talent that will be in the majors that it has not been a favorable experience for the Indians there either. Also, it is not the PICK that teams are worried about losing, it is the MONEY. That money loss has a crippling effect on the team's draft plans for that year. That's the huge difference now with the compensation system than in the past. Teams ALWAYS lost a first round pick for the top free agents. So this is nothing new. The difference now is the bonus pool setup. In the past if a team lost a first round pick they would just pick up a first round talent that slid in the draft for signability reasons and draft and sign him. They can't do that anymore.
Anyway, this should be interesting to see how this pitching market ultimately shakes out. We are two weeks from spring training and four pretty good pitchers are without a job.
I realize it's only been 2 years...but with the new free agent/draft pick system, we have not seen a single free agent SP that had a draft pick tied to him get a 5 year deal...hell, we haven't seen one get a 4 year deal have we? But Masterson is essentially a lock to get 5 years? really?
If Masterson pitched for a team other than Cleveland, no one on this site would be saying he was in line for a 5 year deal (on the open market) with how he's pitched to this point. The guy has been good but simply not great.
And even taking the draft pick compensation thing out...we haven't seen a ton of 5 year deals on the open market.
Ubaldo had a great season because he finally got his mechanics fixed. If you watch film of him in 2013 you see a much different pitcher than he was in 2012. His delivery has speeded up by over a second and his command is much better. I don't think his 2011 and 2012 seasons are really relevant to the discussion. He's a completely different pitcher now.
So assuming we lose Masterson after this season, which is a very safe assumption, I think we should go hard after Ubaldo.
And if Masterson has a All-Star season and we're offered a blue chip, can't miss, AAA prospect for him at the trade deadline, I'd really consider it. No Andy Marte's, please.
FWIW, Scott Feldman got 3/$30, Scott Kazmir 2/$22, and Bartolo Colon 2/$20, Jimenez has more upside than any of those three, IMHO, therefore, getting him at a price near $10-13 M would be considered an under valued deal. Lets face it MOR are expensive, Jimenez is probably a 2 at best or a 3/4 if he falters again.
Jimenez seems certain to land somewhere in that $30-39M range, high end he gets 3/$39M low end I think he gets 3/$33M. At this point, I think the Tribe should jump back in on him.
The Tribe only has $47M committed for the 2015 season. (Unless they add a multiyear deal this offseason).
Add $5M for min. contract players.
Another $13M for arb. eligible players. (Maybe a bit high)
That would put the Tribe around $65M guessing they may have a payroll of $85-90M the Indians would have about $20-25M to spend next offseason. The Tribe could save $3.5M by optioning out of Mike Aviles option or trading him. That wouldn't keep the Tribe from signing Jimenez at $10-13M and extending Masterson at $15-17M per yr. It does seem likely they cannot do both, but it is possible...but it might require another trade to keep some payroll flexibility.
The good news... the Tribe should have several prospects ready (some of: Lindor, Naquin, JRamirez, RRod, Bauer, Anderson, House, Crockett, Wolters, Moncrief, Aguilar, DBaker, Tejada, WRoberts, and Plutko to name a few) plus maybe another player or two from the recent drafts emerge.
You hit the nail right on the head with this article. This is EXACTLY what I've been saying in regards to resigning Jimenez and trading Masterson or letting him walk at the end of the year. All of the reasons I've been stating you nailed right in this article, from the ability to trade Masterson and not Jimenez to the relatively low possibility that that draft pick or picks will turn out, as well as how long it will take him/them to if he/they turned out, doing virtually nothing for the current team and this current window of contention.
With that price tag down to a more reasonable level for Jimenez (if Heyman's GMs are to be believed), I still think he's the best option for the Indians to upgrade the rotation long-term. Masterson hasn't been any more consistent and his 2013 H/9 and K/9 rates were way better than his career norms, so I think a regression is possible in both areas based on his track record. Plus, you don't know if the pressure of a contract year will adversely affect him or not.
You get virtually the same or higher potential for Jimenez for less than Masterson, you probably don't have to go as many years for Jimenez, and there likely won't be as many suitors for Jimenez as there may be for Masterson (partly due to the Tanaka sweepstakes holding everything up this offseason- don't think there's any big Japanese sensation coming over next offseason, so things should move quickly and more teams involved, even with QO attached). And, yes, I still think BOS is a major player in waiting for Masterson. Of course, that's all presuming Masterson remains healthy and does well or better in 2014.
Definitely agree: Resign Jimenez now (including trading Cabrera if necessary to do it), work on the 1-year deal with Masterson or consider trade options, and go from there. Go Tribe!
This is part of the problem I have with the Dolans. You can't continue to make the argument that "we're a small market team" so therefore, we have to trade Masterson yet vote for the Basic Agreement with the Players Union that makes us have to trade Masterson or the Rays David Price.
While I'm excited for Tony's Top 50 to be in full swing, things feel a little too quiet around the Tribe nation and I'm hoping something a lot more interesting happens soon...maybe a trade or a signing CA...?
I agree with Rick regarding Character. Its a very underrated aspect of free agency, and Masterson's stock will improve because he can be a 'face of the franchise' type guy, even if he is only a teams #2 or #3 starting pitcher.
I also think Masterson's pitching style should be taken into account. He puts the ball on the ground. There are teams, like the Yankees, who would surely value a guy who can put the ball on the ground more than flyball pitchers due to their stadiums. With Kuroda likely to be done after the year and Sabathia still kind of a mystery, I would expect Masterson to be very high on the Yankees offseason wishlist next winter, and we know they are not afraid to spend. Colorado, Houston, Baltimore, and Arizona will surely be interested in his services also.
they may be holding out on Masterson because they want to wait and see what Carrasco and Bauer does. If they both pan out...they may let Masty fly. Who knows...
I would either do that or you gotta move Masterson at some point. Only if the price is right though. I would want something along the lines of say Clint Frazier, Trevor Bauer, Austin Adams, Jose Ramirez and a throw in bullpen arm.
Because I am kind of scared for the rotation once Masterson leaves.
I think will the potential extra picks the Indians would have great opportunity to reload there farm system.
If the Indians are in the hunt come midseason, no way is Masterson dealt. Say what you want about the Indians, but they haven't dealt away their top players when they were in a race. I'm also not sold the Tribe will or can get more value for Masterson at the deadline. Sure the 2nd wild card means more teams are in the hunt...but the new system also prevents teams from getting a draft pick for a player that leaves if they have him less than a year, thus hurting the value of a guy like Masterson potentially. Not saying you can't still get something (Brewers got Segura for Greinke...though Greinke > Masterson), but the new system doesn't really help midseason deals of upcoming free agents.
I also maintain my stance that Masterson is not getting a 5 year deal on the open market. 4 years with maybe an option. 5 year deals are just not easy to come by; guys that aren't viewed as Aces rarely get them. Won't say it's impossible (Wilson and Sanchez got them), but I'd bet against it. Definitely don't think teams will be jumping at the bit to give him one.
Ubaldo is the worst on this score. Yes he logged on average the best innings -BUT- those averages say nothing about HOW both Tito and Callaway had to baby him. Says nothing about what an immature hot head he is when his defense breaks down on him. About how many times he had to come out prior to the 6th - and then had stretches (often against inferior teams) into the 8th to even those innings out to a 'workhorse' level.
In todays market that is a vital difference. Masterson has a level head and boring off the field demeanor that almost puts him into Kershaw territory - ideal face of the franchise stuff.
My point is he won't sign with the Indians because he wants at least a five year deal, and the Indians won't give it to him (whether he ultimately gets it or not...not really the point of this piece). I do believe he'll get his five year deal, and it 100% depends on what he does this year. As to the Indians dealing someone at the break by "squeezing someone at the trade deadline," LOL, not sure that recent trade deadlines bear that out per se. I do think dealing Masterson is possible. I don't really care about the Blue Jays, which is why I didn't put them in my piece with any substance...
You definitely could be right. As best I can tell, Toronto was around $80M in payroll 2 seasons ago, and are likely to be over $130M this year BEFORE possibly adding Santana or Jimenez. That's a huge leap.
However, Rogers has already made such an investment in this "window" that I think they will ultimately grab one of the 2, especially since they still will have 2 protected top-11 picks. If they don't make a playoff run this season, though, look out. They could go into fire-sale mode very quickly to try to dump those depreciating assets.
They just are not a front office I respect much.
Likewise, I think the attitude of Kevin Towers in Arizona represents a fair market respose to both Ubaldo and Santana.
These are flawed pitchers in a vastly overpriced - thanks to the TV money - market.
I think many teams look at how the Tribe played late with Bourn and have learned that is the best strategy.
And finally, I disagree with your overall assessment of Masterson. I think most organizations are dying to get a chance to sign him to a 4-5 year deal, viewing him like Fister when Detroit snatched him.
I doubt he is going to be with us come the 2nd half of this year - and not because I believe we will fall out of competition. The flip side of this crazy Free Agency money is that - in the new 2nd wild card era - there are going to be teams willing to risk overpaying at the trade deadline as well.
And that is when and how I believe the Indians can maximize value - it's what they are best at - squeezing another small or mid-market team on a trade deadline deal.
The realistic window of Ubaldo's performance over the next three windows is going to be around 5.5 - 10 fWAR, meaning that the low end is only a little worse than you're paying him for (about a 3.25 million total overpay) while the high end means that you're sitting at about a 50% excess value. If the Indians don't offer him a 3/39 and possibly toss in a vesting option to sweeten the pot, they're fools. The upside clearly outweighs the potential downside.
Probably explains why reports have them as the strongest players in the Samardzija trade-discussions....his salary is a lot less than the free agent guys will be.