Mark Trumbo Finally Signs
I wasn’t surprised at the fact that Bautista ultimately received only a one-year deal. He is going into his age 36 season and coming off a down year, so the multi-year nine-figure contract he and his agent were making noises about before the season ended always seemed more like trying to goose up the market than anything else. At the end of the day, he still beat the $17.2 million qualifying offer, and he can’t be QOed again next off-season.
Trumbo’s contract, however, surprises me. Not necessarily the fact it’s only three years, but definitely the fact that it’s only about $37.5 million. Trumbo is going into his age 31 season, and he led all of MLB with his 47 dingers. I really thought he’d get something closer to the four-year $57 million deal Nelson Cruz got two off-seasons ago, at least $43M or 44M for three seasons.
Trumbo was probably hurt by the fact that there are cheaper similar options still out there. Even so, Nelson Cruz has made the Mariners look like geniuses as he has continued to pound the ball the last two seasons.
Dave Schoenfeld of espn.com wrote a post a few days ago suggesting that teams are less willing to sign aging one-dimensional sluggers like Brandon Moss, because teams are now looking for the next Brandon Moss. I thought it was kind of a dumb article, because while poor teams like the A’s, who specialize in finding the next Brandon Mosses, will look to sign undervalued 4-A players, other teams will always be on the look-out for proven sluggers at the right price.
The problem with finding the next Brandon Moss in the minor leagues is that it is an incredibly uncertain proposition in terms of any one player (or even two or three) you might put your money on. Somebody will become the next Brandon Moss, but a majority of candidates for the role sure as hell won’t.
Brandon Moss’s value as a major league player over the last three seasons, working backward, has been $ 11.2M, $3.8M and $19.7M according to fangraphs. You would have to reasonably expect that his value will be somewhere between $3.8M and $11.2M in 2017. He’ll be 33 next season, so the lower figure is certainly the safer bet.
What I am trying to say is that the reason Moss hasn’t yet signed is because his current ask as a free agent is too high, rather than because teams are looking for an undervalued 4-A player they can pay the major league minimum. Once Moss’s ask comes down to $3 or 4 million on a one-year deal, at least one team that needs a left-handed power bat and whose in-house analytics value Moss’ likely 2017 performance similar to fangraphs will sign him for that amount.
Although all 30 major league teams as a whole don’t always act rationally, they do most of the time. If there are even two team for whom Moss would fill a need, who estimate Moss’ likely 2017 performance at $4 million or more, and who can afford to pay $4 million, he’ll get a one year deal for right around $4 million. Most teams would rather pay $4 million for a relatively sure thing than the minimum for a guy who is less likely than not to become the next Brandon Moss, if they can afford to pay the $4 million.
It’s bottom feeders like the A’s who keep looking for the next Brandon Moss, because they have to. And you can only find these guys consistently if your analytics are better than just about everyone else’s.