The market this winter just keeps getting more and more intriguing. Certainly, Adrian Beltre settling for a one year deal and Matt Holliday receiving a staggering seven year mega-deal created more than enough stir these past few days. Flying under this frenzy is the fact that the San Francisco Giants offered Adam LaRoche a two year, 17 million dollar contract.
And he rejected it.
Troy Glaus has a much better history than LaRoche, despite his injury issues, and only received a one year deal worth 2.75 million. Hideki Matsui, a DH with a significantly better bat in the AL (+13 points of wRC+ last year, +11 for career), received a one year deal worth only 6.5 million. Remember, a -5 1B is roughly equal, defensively, to a DH. And does LaRoche really think that he can get a deal similar to that of Bobby Abreu’s 2/19 contract anywhere else?
There’s been no sign in this market that a player with skills comparable to those of LaRoche can get a contract guaranteeing that much money over multiple years. Our fan projections have LaRoche as a 2.1 win player, which is currently showing up as 9.3 million dollars in value. However, the market so far this year doesn’t seem to suggest that teams are paying $4.4M per win. This year, the market seems to be settling in the range of $3.5M to $4.0M per win. Given that the fan projections are far more optimistic than CHONE’s projection of 1.2 WAR for LaRoche, 2/17 seems to be the best that LaRoche would hope to see, and likely would have been an overpay.
That makes this offer especially inexcusable from the Giants perspective. After seeing his team compile a horrendous .305 wOBA and come in producing 118 runs below the league average, Brian Sabean is likely feeling the need to improve the offense. Still, the team has Travis Ishikawa and Josh Phelps, who project similarly to LaRoche according to CHONE. That, and they non-tendered Ryan Garko, who projects as a superior hitter to LaRoche and should come much cheaper.
I would suggest that this offer could be a result of the insidious workings of the Mystery Team, but Adam LaRoche isn’t a Scott Boras client. Brian Sabean is so desperate to add offense that he’s willing to pay $8.5M per year for a minimal upgrade, and Adam LaRoche and his agent are so vain that they declined it. With the first base market tiny – it’s basically down to the Giants, Mets, and Orioles after the Mariners’ addition of Casey Kotchman – there are still plenty of options available aside from LaRoche.
It appears that Sabean and the Giants have realized that their offer is a poor offer even before considering the lack of competition and current talent on their roster, and “may have pulled their offer,” according to Buster Olney. If this is true, don’t be surprised if Adam LaRoche is kicking himself come April.
Jack Moore's work can be seen at VICE Sports and anywhere else you're willing to pay him to write. Buy his e-book.