Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 12/2/15 by Dave Cameron December 2, 2015 11:22 Dave Cameron: So, after a slow start, we have something to talk about. David Price to Boston, Greinke likely choosing beween LA and SF in the next day or two, and of course, the rumored blockbuster of Yonder Alonso to the A’s. 11:22 Dave Cameron: With the winter meetings kicking off Monday, let’s get our speculation game on, and try to figure out what is going to happen over the next few weeks. 11:23 Dave Cameron: The queue is now open, and we’ll get started around noon. 11:24 Dave Cameron: Also, you’ll note that the Jotcast team made a bunch of improvements to the chat software after feedback from you guys last week, so feel free to keep providing more; their responsiveness means that we can hopefully make this a great experience for both chatter and reader. 11:52 Dave Cameron: Alright, let’s start a few minutes early, since the queue is already filling up. 11:52 Nick: Thoughts on the M’s dumping Trumbo? Does Aoki provide similar value for (probably) about half the cost? 11:53 Dave Cameron: Yeah, I think that’s about right. Both are +1ish WAR players, so the M’s saved $5 million by signing Aoki and giving away Trumbo. A 1B should theoretically be easier to find than an OF as well. 11:53 Eddy: Will players ever be open to the idea of an inflated, record-breaking AAV in return for shorter years to avoid that back-end decline? Example: $120 million for 3 years of Price. 11:55 Dave Cameron: Ever? Sure, but there’s no real incentive for either side to do this. Long deals are essentially a way for teams to defer present costs interest free, and the time value of money makes it far better for them to do long deals instead of short ones for the same price. And players generally don’t need more cashflow, so moving up their payment schedule usually isn’t worth it. 11:55 Dave Cameron: Plus, high AAV/shorter deals would make it harder for a team to build a winning roster around that guy, so he’s probably hurting his own chances of making the postseason. 11:56 Meowmix: Is signing 29yr old stud pitchers to large 7 year deals with an opt-out after 3, and then letting them walk after 3 years, and then repeating the process with the next 29yr old, not that bad of an idea? 11:56 Dave Cameron: You’re assuming the stud pitcher will pitch like a stud and opt-out. It is more likely that Price will struggle and/or get hurt by 2018, and instead the Red Sox will still have him for years 4-7. 11:57 Walking with d’Arnaudsaurs: Am I wrong, as a total third party observer, for actually kind of liking the Aoki signing and Trumbo trade for the M’s? Aoki is probably still a fine outfielder, and the Mariners needed somebody, anybody,to serve as a catcher. 11:57 Dave Cameron: Well, Clevenger is nothing, and will just be a veteran backup behind Iannetta to let them send Zunino to AAA. The fact that the Mariners are sending a second player along with Trumbo for a 30 year old with negative career WAR should tell you all you need to know about Trumbo’s trade value. 11:58 Q-Ball: That Alonso “blockbuster”….can you walk us through what the Padres are likely thinking here? Clearing a position for Kemp and/or Myers? The Padres are on a rebuild now…right? 11:58 Dave Cameron: Sounds like Myers moving to 1B; they may have non-tendered Alonso anyway. 11:58 Dave Cameron: And I doubt they’re going to go full-scale rebuild. 11:59 Zonk: If Dustin Pedroia were a FA today, do you think he would top the 6/85 extension the Red Sox signed him to starting in 2016? 11:59 Dave Cameron: No question. 11:59 Q-Ball: Apparently, Braves like Jorge Soler, and Cubs like Shelby Miller. How much of a gap is there in value there, in your opinion? 11:59 Dave Cameron: It’s a fascinating rumor. I plan to write about it tomorrow, but I think I’d do that if I was the Cubs. 12:00 Zonk: Does the Price signing make it all the more likely the Cardinals will retain Jason Heyward? 12:01 Dave Cameron: I think so. They reportedly offered something like $180M, so they clearly have that kind of money available. Even if they preferred Price to Heyward, I think they probably see Heyward as the most reasonable alternative to signing Price. 12:02 Bork: With the Jays not signing Price, and their rotation almost set (albeit not flashy), do you think they’ll open the coffers for Chris Davis? He’d be a perfect fit. 12:03 Dave Cameron: I don’t think so. I don’t get the sense that they’re going to sign a big FA this winter. 12:03 Q-Ball: Nice job guessing Price’s contract! Where do you think Cueto and Shark are going to land now in terms of years/dollars? 12:04 Dave Cameron: I think Cueto turning down 6/$120M shows he’s confident that he can get a seventh year. I’ll stick with my 7/$140M guess, though it might end up as an option with a big buyout or something. Samardzija, I still think $80M, somewhere in there, probably for five years. 12:05 OaktownSteve: Where are the Twins going to play Byung Ho Park? 12:05 Dave Cameron: DH 12:05 Saul A: Would the Giants be the favorites in the NL West if they land Greinke ? 12:05 Dave Cameron: No, the Dodgers would just go sign someone else really good — maybe Heyward — with the money they would have given Greinke. 12:06 Alex: Odds that Bryce Harper/Boras manage to get a $500 million deal when he hits free agency? 12:06 Dave Cameron: Very likely. 12:06 Bon Loblaw: When do you think Heyward signs? At the meetings? before? after? 12:07 Dave Cameron: After. I think he’s probably looking at a mid-December signing. 12:07 Q-Ball: Are you going to be at the Winter Meetings? What does a baseball writer do there? 12:07 Dave Cameron: I am. Mostly, we socialize and wait for stuff to happen. If you’re going to be in Nashville and want to say hi, hit me up on Twitter. 12:08 Matt: Who trades for Cargo? Cleveland? 12:08 Dave Cameron: I’ve been saying Anaheim forever, but I don’t know what they have left to trade at this point. But maybe they’ll take Reyes’ deal too and just make it a salary dump. 12:08 Zonk: If Jon Lester were a free agent today, do you think he would get more than the 5/125 left on his deal? Does this deal look better after the Price signing? 12:09 Dave Cameron: Yeah, I think he’d get something like the 7/$140M I’m projecting for Cueto. I don’t think his signing ever looked bad, and Price deal doesn’t really change that. 12:09 Andrew G: What is your stance on expansion? Do you think MLB is ready for it? When do you expect it to happen next? 12:10 Dave Cameron: I do think that, with the demand for live sports television content, finding the right city in terms of infrastructure is less important than it used to be. A team can be profitable without selling a thousand luxury boxes now. But I still don’t think we see it within next 5 years. Maybe 10. 12:11 Matt: Alright Dave…Miller, Mallex Smith, and Arodys Vizcaino for AJ Pollock. Who says no? 12:11 Dave Cameron: The D’Backs 12:11 Jason: You predicted Price to the Red Sox for 7 years and $215 million. He signed with the Red Sox for 7 years and $217 million. You missed by $2 million. What’s wrong with you, Dave? 12:11 Dave Cameron: Well, I really missed by more than that, because the opt-out has real value to Price. So I probably missed by more like $20 million. 12:11 Q-Ball: How would you assess James Shield’s trade value, given the 3/66 left on his deal? How much would Padres have to eat to even out the value? 12:12 Dave Cameron: I think the trick is his opt-out after next year. You’re basically asking a team to risk $66M for the right to hope for one good year and then the chance to make a qualifying offer next winter. That opt-out makes him very tough to trade. 12:13 Drew: Thoughts on where the Cardinals go for pitching after losing out on David Price? 12:13 Dave Cameron: I could see them getting in on a guy like Chen. 12:14 dom: Some fans are acting like the opt out is somehow good for Boston. Even if he pitches well and opts out, and they are a contender, they will be in a position where they are pressured to resign him and give him more money. Exactly what happened with CC and the Yankees 12:15 Dave Cameron: The opt-out is never good for a team. It can be offset by reducing the amount of money the team guarantees — the player is essentially buying a perk at that point, not unlike a regular working stiff who takes a lower salary to get health insurance — but there is no scenario where the opt-out is a good thing for the Red Sox. 12:16 Ben: Gardner + Nova + Refsnyder for Kipnis……who hang up first? 12:16 Dave Cameron: Indians have no interest. 12:16 Kim: Does Aoki effectively take the Mariners out of the running for Ozuna? 12:17 Dave Cameron: Not necessarily. If they can land another OF, Seth Smith could move to 1B. 12:17 Chris: Would you tender Alvarez a contract if you were the Pirates? He doesn’t seem to have any trade value, (a la Trumbo) but relying solely on Mike Morse to hold down the fort until Josh Bell gets there doesn’t seem ideal either. 12:17 Dave Cameron: Alvarez is bad, so I’d non-tender him and look for someone better. 12:18 Kimball: Corollary to Meowmix’s question: isn’t an early opt-out arguably better for the Sox? Having the opt-out sooner rather than later reduces the risk that the wider market will reevaluate his value downward, thus increasing the chance that he walks, in which case they get Price for 3/90 while he’s still close to/in his prime. 12:19 Dave Cameron: If he opts out of his deal, that means he’s worth more than the remaining 4/$102M left on his deal. And if he’s worth more than what’s left, he’s a positive asset, and if the team wanted to avoid the mid-30s risk, they could trade him for value. Think of it this way; would you think the Mariners should be happy if Felix Hernandez magically was given an opt-out and used it tomorrow? 12:21 Dave Cameron: He’s coming off the worst year of his career, his velocity fell last year, and he’s been worked hard in his career. Lots of red flags suggesting there could be a big decline coming. But no one thinks the M’s should want Felix to leave right now, because everyone realizes that they could trade him for some pretty nifty things. 12:21 Zonk: If the Cardinals retain Heyward, do you anticipate them trading an OF for pitching? If so, would that be Grchuk, or Piscotty? 12:21 Dave Cameron: I would think Piscotty would move to 1B 12:21 Zonk: There seems to be zero chatter out there on Kazmir. Is he underrated? What do you see as contract for him? 12:22 Dave Cameron: Mid-tier pitchers waiting for top guys to clear the deck. 12:22 Dave Cameron: I think I guessed 3/$48M for him. 12:23 Gary: Wouldn’t you much prefer something like Heyward 10/200 (or even 10/220) to Price 7/217? They’re both 5-6 ish WAR players, but Heyward doesn’t pitch for a living and he’s younger. 12:24 Dave Cameron: Price’s value is amplified in the postseason, and Heyward’s defense isn’t likely to stay at its current level, so I think it’s close. But yeah, I’d have no problem giving Heyward $220M. 12:25 Trainman: It seems like zobrist will get a 4 year deal. Is it possible he could get 5, with the rumored amount of teams interested in him? 12:25 Dave Cameron: No, I don’t think anyone is going to go 5. It will be 4 years for $15 to $17M, probably. 12:26 Trainman: Does price deal set precedent for what a Harvey, deGrom, syndergaard could get when they become free agents (yes I’m a mets fan). If each of those guys hit FA today, what would each one get? 12:26 Dave Cameron: Guys with TJ surgery on their resume will always have to take a discount. 12:27 Patience: Is there a chance that part of the reason the Mariners are trading players like Trumbo is to clear salary room for a big free agent? Or are they just churning the roster as one might expect and trading those guys because they don’t fit Dipoto’s preferred profile 12:27 Dave Cameron: Team already has big money on the books for Felix/Cano/Seager. I doubt they’re going to put another big commitment on there. 12:27 Kimball: With Zimmermann’s contract coming in under most experts’ estimates, why are so many reasonable commentators (e.g., Passan) holding it up as “with this guy is worth 22m/year, the market’s finally gone crazy”? Haven’t a lot of riskier bets have been made in that AAV ballpark? 12:28 Dave Cameron: Yeah, I didn’t get that column at all. Zimmermann is obviously worth $22M per year, no irrationality needed. 12:28 The Average Sports Fan: Even if the Reds decide to embrace a full rebuild, what besides Chapman do they have to deal without having to put money in the deal? 12:28 Dave Cameron: Bruce, Frazier. 12:29 Drew: Many fans think Price’s contract is outrageous. How do you explain to them that he’s actually worth around $240M in the simplest way possible? 12:29 Dave Cameron: “Would you rather have one David Price or three Jeff Samardzijas?” 12:30 Michael Scarn: As a Red Sox fan, I’m concerned that we had to offer Price $30+ mil more than the Cardinals because he wasn’t very excited about the idea of playing in Boston. Is that a legitimate concern or am I overthinking? 12:30 Dave Cameron: I think it was probably specific to Price. His negative history with Ortiz, the stigma of black players in Boston, and the fact that STL is closer to his home in Nashville probably made STL a better fit for him if the money was the same, but not every player has those same variables. 12:31 Bob: Can’t fathom the Cubs being willing to give up Soler for what would be their #3 SPer. And Soler signed to an incredibly team friendly contract now at 5/$18M. It would be idiotic to give that upside up. 12:32 Dave Cameron: Depends on what you see as a reasonable expectation of his future production. He wasn’t very good last year, and Steamer hates him. If you think the power is only above average instead of elite, then he’s a league average player, and not that hard to replace. 12:32 Dave Cameron: If you think he’s a +4 WAR monster in the making, then yes, you keep him. But I don’t think that’s the obvious expectation at this point. 12:33 dom: If every player were a FA, would average salary go down because of excess supply? Or would that be taken care of by increased demand? 12:33 Dave Cameron: The top salaries would come way down, and the bottom salaries would come way up. FAs are paid from the savings of pre-arb and arb eligible players. If you do away with those structures, not as much money left for aging veterans. 12:34 Jenkins: Last week you said that Pedro Alvarez wasn’t worth a tender, but the next question said that Trumbo would get traded. They’re virtually the same player (besides RH, LH) so why the dislike of Alvarez? I don’t think either are great, BTW. 12:35 Dave Cameron: Alvarez can’t catch the ball, shouldn’t play first base. Trumbo is a decent defender at 1B. 12:35 Joel: Have you ever seen an actual major league contract? I wonder if it’s many pages like when you buy a house, medium like when you buy a car, or just a single sheet of paper? 12:35 Dave Cameron: Yes, I have. They’re pretty long. Lots of stuff in there. 12:35 Q-Ball: is it possible for a CLUB to have an opt-out clause? Or is that what club option years are for? 12:35 Dave Cameron: Yeah, opt-out is just another term for player option. When a team has one, it’s called a team option. 12:37 Yoc: If the Mariners were to target a 1B via a trade or free agency, who do you see as some likely candidates? 12:37 Dave Cameron: Steve Pearce makes some sense for the Mariners now that they’ve dumped Trumbo and could probably use some RH power to balance out the line-up. 12:38 hop on pop: Shelby Miller to Sox for Benintendi and Johnson. Who turns this down? 12:38 Dave Cameron: Red Sox 12:38 Dave Cameron: They love Benintendi 12:39 Justin: If the Dodgers don’t sign Greinke, are they more likely to sign or trade for pitching? 12:39 Dave Cameron: I would think trade. 12:39 Mark: Why should I trust fWAR when you openly defy it by voting for Arrieta over Kershaw? 12:40 Dave Cameron: It is entirely possible to believe a metric has value without believing that the metric perfectly encapsulates the entire value of player valuation. WAR is great, but it is also flawed. 12:40 Dave Cameron: If you need a metric to be perfect before you trust it, you should never trust any number. 12:41 Q-Ball: Because Heyward is 26, you have to think his deal will include an opt-out after 3-5 years. Agree? 12:41 Dave Cameron: Yeah, I’d guess after 4. 12:41 Mark Armour: I don’t disagree with your opt-out logic. But its very possible Price could opt out because he believes that one or more of the 30 MLB teams will give him a better deal than 4/125 AND the Red Sox are not one of such teams. In that scenario (not implausible) the Red Sox benefit from the opt out. 12:42 Dave Cameron: No, because the Red Sox could just trade Price to that team, who would be happy to have him for less than what they’d have to pay him in FA, and would compensate the Red Sox with talent in order to get him. 12:42 Matt: Has the Dbacks FO suddenly improved or is Pollock for Miller just so obviously lopsided that everyone knows it? 12:43 Dave Cameron: I would imagine that everyone in baseball knows that offer is nutso. 12:43 Tom: I feel like there are situations where a team would prefer 3 Jeff Samardzijas. 12:43 Dave Cameron: Sure, there definitely are. But Boston isn’t one of them. 12:43 Joel: Cliff Corcoran at SI wrote an article re: the David Price contract, and used a $6.85/WAR figure, supposedly derived from Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS model. Can you explain the difference in the number? I’m pretty sure teams were paying 6-7 / WAR 2-3 offseasons ago… 12:44 Dave Cameron: There are a lot of ways to calculate $/WAR, and lots of different assumptions that drive the conclusion. People even have different ideas of replacement level, so if there are more WAR in the world, you’re going to pay less per WAR. 12:45 James: Seems as you’ve cooked some on Soler’s outlook. Is that the case? 12:45 Dave Cameron: I’m certainly lower on him now than I was a year ago. Which, given his pretty poor 2015 season, is probably appropriate. 12:46 Sody: If Greinke resigns with Dodgers who do you see the Giants going after? Do they get two starting pitchers and a LF like Upton? 12:46 Dave Cameron: They seemed to be interested in re-signing Leake when they traded for him. 12:47 Dave Cameron: So maybe they go Samardzija/Leake instead of Greinke or something. 12:47 dom: So we keep hearing about how sluggers don’t age well, defense peaks early, etc. Even plate discipline can fall off if players have to cheat starting their swing earlier due to decreased bat speed. So are there any skills/player types that age well? 12:47 Dave Cameron: Athletes. Guys in good physical shape with a broad base of skills age better than anyone else. Think Kenny Lofton. 12:49 Adam: Can Lonnie Chisenhall follow the same career arc as Gordon? Already a parallel with switch from 3B to OF, being top prospect. 12:49 Dave Cameron: Bat isn’t anywhere close to as good. 12:49 Rols: While playing with the same defense behind them, Kershaw’s FIP was .14 points better than his ERA while Greinke’s FIP was 1.1 points worse than his ERA. The answer could simply be that they throw different pitches (Kershaw relies more on strikeouts while Greinke plays to contact), but can you explain this? 12:49 Dave Cameron: Defensive performance isn’t static. 12:50 Dave Cameron: No one thinks teammates who share an offense get the same run support. You shouldn’t think they get the same defensive support either. 12:50 Zonk: When a player opts out, can you hang a QO on him? You can with a player option right? So isn’t that a potential difference? 12:50 Dave Cameron: Yes, if a player opts out, you can hit him with a QO. Gordon and Greinke this year, for instance. 12:51 Gabe: It’s true that, if Price exercises the opt-out, then the Sox probably could have traded him for something of value (I assume they can make him the qualifying offer in that instance, but also assume they could have traded him for something worth more than that). Still and all, if he exercises the opt-out it will mean that he’s pitched quite well so it’s something of a win-win. 12:52 Dave Cameron: Again, no. Think of this in non-baseball terms. I’ll sell you my car for $10,000. In three years, if you haven’t wrecked the car or it hasn’t proved to be a lemon, I’m going to repossess it. Are you happy about that? 12:52 Dave Cameron: Of course not. At that point, you have a great car, it will cost you more to buy a new one, you could sell it to someone else, but I just take it away from you for nothing. You’re not happy, even though you got three good years out of the car. 12:53 Guest: Why are opt-outs so hard for people to get? Pretty easy concept, though there’s more to it than “team’s are dumb for giving them.” 12:54 Dave Cameron: Right. The opt-out can be fine if you offset it by paying the player less. It’s a benefit to the player, but that doesn’t mean that benefit can’t be removed from the AAV of the deal, or by cutting a year off the back-end or something. There are plenty of ways to compensate for including an opt-out to not make any deal including one stupid. But the opt-out itself is never good for the team. 12:54 Guest: How many more elite yrs do you anticipate from Price, and how bad will he be towards the end of the deal? 12:55 Dave Cameron: I’d guess another 2 high-level years, then a few above average ones, then some injured time. 12:55 Buff: How much activity do you foresee at the winter meetings next week? Specifically, how likely are teams like the Rox, Reds, and Brewers to make major moves toward a rebuild? 12:55 Dave Cameron: I think next week could be bananas. So much stuff still to come, and no one wants to do any of this at Christmas time. 12:56 Bill Haywood: I went to Wake, big fan of Sweet Potatoes. Do they still serve their spaghetti with fried chicken in it? The rumors I saw had a proposed Wilson Contreras and Billy McKinney for Shelby Miller; which package would you prefer to give up if you were the Cubs? 12:56 Dave Cameron: They just swapped out their spaghetti for a different pasta dish with a sweet potato pesto; it’s what my wife got when we went there, and it was awesome. I don’t think Braves sell Miller that lightly. 12:57 grumbleshoes: I’d be happy about it if I had $5000 in payments remaining on the car and the car was about to break down, and there was a market of car-buyers that historically overpayed for similar cars. 12:57 Dave Cameron: Seriously? If you had a car that someone would give you $7500 for, and you owed $5K on it, you’d be happy to just have it be taken away from you? 12:58 Tomo: Something seems wrong when teams are so happy to pay for dead years at end of a contract. Inflation and the value of a dollar over time I know, but even so, it’s a weird system when they are knowingly writing off such a large chunk of money. 12:59 Dave Cameron: Just think of it as deferred money then. The Red Sox are hoping to get five good seasons out of Price, and then deferred $60 million of his cost to reduce their present expenses. 12:59 MLB fan: What free agent do you think is most likely to linger later into the offseason unsigned 12:59 Dave Cameron: Ian Kennedy 1:00 Dave Cameron: Alright, off to get some work done this afternoon. Thanks for the chat, everyone. 1:00 Dave Cameron: We’ll do a bunch of these next week from Nashville.