Billy Eppler does not care about baseball writers. A year ago, the day after the World Series ended, he traded for Cameron Maybin to shore up his outfield. Today, the day after the World Series ended, he gave Justin Upton a new contract to convince him to not use his opt-out clause and become a free agent, once again improving his outfield.
The deal seems pretty straight forward; in addition to the $88 million he had remaining on his contract over the next four years if he didn’t opt-out, the Angels added an $18 million guarantee for a fifth year, pushing his new guaranteed total to $106 million over five years. Given what the market is paying for wins these days, this effectively values Upton as something like a +3 WAR player expected to age fairly normally.
Obviously, he was a lot better than that this year, putting up his second best season by WAR in his career, but since signing his last free agent contract, he’s totaled +6.3 WAR over two seasons, so a +3 WAR per year estimate seems about right. Upton might not be the steadiest performer around, but given his base of skills, a little over $100 million for five years seems about right.
The Angels just saw a division rival win the World Series, and the Astros are going to enjoy all the benefits that comes with that over the next few years, making them an even tougher opponent to overcome. But with Upton in the fold at a fair rate, they have a better shot at capitalizing on Mike Trout’s prime than they would have had Upton hit the open market.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.