MLB-Hot Stove League winter 2022/23

$400 million at least, surely? $450 million?

Everything I’ve read says that Judge was relatively happy with the 37.5-28M per year. He just wants 9 or 10 instead of 8. Even if he gets 10 years at 38, we’re still under 400.

The smart move is to let Aaron Judge take the money elsewhere. Painful, but smart.

Look at Pujols and St. Louis. He was only a year older than Judge when he signed with the Angels. The Cardinals got 88.8 bWar from Albert; the Angels got 12.8 bWar for their 10 year/240 million signing.

If the Yankees want to sign Judge, they should go all in over the next three years, or let him go. It’s a small window.

Have there been any situations in recent memory where a star player in his prime agreed to a short-term deal, no matter how lucrative on a per-season basis? No matter how much sense it makes to the team, players aren’t going for it.

I meant they should go all in on other players, because what can you really expect from a 6’7’', 280 pound outfielder in his mid and late 30s? It’s win now, or don’t do it.

A shorter term, higher AAV contract would be great, but the player would never go for it. Getting Judge for four years at 50 or 60 million per year would be a much better option.

It is rare, but it does happen. Correa is a recent example.

I think people get hung up on the distribution of money though. The Phillies aren’t expecting Turner to be 25 million dollar player at 39. But he certainly is more than a 27 million dollar player now, so they hope it evens out. Also 27 million paid in ten years is worth significantly less than 27 million now. No one is paying Judge based on what he is going to do at age 38.

Judge will probably top 300 million, though I think I’d rather 11 years of Turner than 9 years of Judge at that price.

A couple of years ago I did a study that simply looked at whether big contracts for hitters were a good idea. The study was simple; I just linked up the 25 biggest salaries for hitters, year over year, and ascertained the return on investment. (With very few exceptions, of course, those salaries were associated with long term big money deals.)

The results were stunning; those contracts were SENSATIONALLY terrible. Very, very few ever worked. There were far more catastrophic cases than good ones, way more Chris Davises than Mike Trouts.

This was a few years ago; I just quickly found a list of highest paid players, and at a glance it doesn’t look quite as bas as it used to be.

  1. Anthony Rendon - 1 WAR in 2022. Looking terrible
  2. Mike Trout - 6.3 WAR - This has worked out big time.
  3. Corey Seager - 4.0 WAR - Too early to tell, I guess
  4. Nolan Arenado - 7.9 WAR - Working out great.
  5. Francisco Lindor - 5.4 WAR - Second year of deal, going fine so far
  6. Giancarlo Stanton - 0.7 WAR - This really isn’t worth it.
  7. Miguel Cabrera - -1 WAR - This contract has hurt the Tigers for years.
  8. Manny Machado - 6.8 WAR - Worth it.
  9. Alex Bregman - 4.5 WAR - Probably worth it.
  10. Shohei Ohtani - WORTH IT
  11. Jose Altuve - Worth it
  12. Kris Bryant - This is looking possibly very bad for Colorado

I’d go on, but it’s quite interesting; the big deals are WAY likelier to work out now. Before, like maybe 4 of the 25 highest paid hitters in any given year earned the money. Seriously, it was just a litany of money set on fire. Today it’s more than half that put up excellent years.

I don’t know what changed, but I cannot help but notice that very few of the top contracts have been given to guys like Albert Pujols - big, slow sluggers at noncritical defensive positions. The only examples above are Miggy Cabrera, whose contract has been a dreadful anchor, and Giancarlo Stanton, who is usually hurt but the Yankees have a lot of money anyway. Most of the other guys, and it’s true a bit further down the list I didn’t bother to type out, also carry defensive value. (Granted, Shohei Ohtani usually plays DH, but clearly has a huge “Defensive” value with his side hustle.)

It’s been observed by sabermetricians for a very long time that speed and athleticism are positively correlated with long term durability and value; Bill James was saying that in like 1986. I know that sounds like a “doyyyy” observation but it used to be you heard people say the opposite, than here’s a guy with lots of speed but he won’t age well because he’ll lose his speed. In fact, the worst bet to make is a big burly first baseman whose game is the homer; THEY don’t usually last. Like, ya know, Chris Davis.

Aaron Judge is so physically weird I don’t know which category he falls into; he is statistically a big homer hitting guy. He doesn’t play first or DH; he’s mostly a right fielder, which is sort of an in between position.

As massive as that contract is, and how ridiculously long it’s for, I have to think it’s worth it, at least in the short term. Turner was the price of free agency - moreso because I don’t think Judge is worth whatever he’ll sign for. But the more amazing thing this contract tells me is that the Atlanta Braves are poised to be absolutely dominant for the next 5+ years. They locked up MAJOR talent at an absurd discount compared to these contracts. They’ll be able to go out and fill any vacancy they want for a very long time.

There is an interesting article in today’s NY Times (spawned by the McGriff election to the HoF) about the best players NOT in the HoF compared to the worst at the same position that are IN… The writer only uses WAR for the basis, but it’s still pretty fun. It’s no surprise that the big steroid guys (Bonds, A-Rod, Palmiero and Clemens) show up at their positions. Some tidbits include:

3B - Scott Rolen (career WAR 70.1) over Freddie Linstrom (28.3). Rolen has a good chance of being elected next month. If he does, next on the list is Graig Nettles (68 WAR), who was my favorite player from the 70s Yanks.

LF - Bonds (career WAR 162.8) over Chick Hafey (31.2). The funny part is that the author noted that even if you added Ted Williams’ WAR to Hafey’s it would still be 9 points shy of Bonds.

Judge stays with the Yankees.

9 years, 360 million. Nice work, if you can get it!

$40 million a year on average. Holy crap.
At least this is good news for next season.

And you just know the back end is going to really hurt the Yanks.

Well, early this season expect a big ceremony anointing him the Yankees Captain.

I was already bracing for losing Judge while simultaneously getting exciting about rounding out the roster with that money. I’m not sure how I feel. Woo-hoo?

Woo Hoo for the next few seasons and cringing about the idea of the last 4 seasons of this contract?

Both Lindstrom and Hafey are Frankie Frisch selections, former Frisch teammates that Frisch convinced the Veterans Committee to induct. That slate of choices really crushed HOF standards forever - it also includes George Kelly, Rube Marquard, Ross Youngs, Jesse Haines, Jim Bottomley… I mean, Jim Bottomley isn’t in the same zip code as Mark Teixeira and who says Mark Teixeira is a Hall of Famer? Jesse Haines isn’t anywhere near David Cone. I can, without looking anything up, effortlessly name fifteen first basemen greater than George Kelly. They were horrific choices that really damaged the Hall of Fame.

Speaking of Cone…I don’t think it would be a travesty if he got in one day. Borderline, for sure, but still one of the best in a tough era.

As for Judge, he’s a terrific athlete. Big guys don’t tend to age well, but he isn’t Chris Davis or Adam Dunn. The contract might be okay for the first six years. Fingers and toes crossed.

I agree he’s not comparable to big oafs like Chris Davis, but physically he really isn’t comparable to anyone at all.

As a Yankee hater, the whole situation has been a win-win. Either Judge was going to SF and Yankee fans were going to have to watch him destroy balls into the bay, or they were going to sign him for a roster-destroying amount of money.

While some fans obsess about “advanced metrics” and froth over supposedly undeserving ballplayers making the Hall of Fame, remember that beyond value to their teams and reputation during their time in baseball, they were the source of great stories that modern players can’t match. Take Rube Marquard:

"Because of his fine work on the mound, Marquard was recommended to the (Cleveland) Naps by the team’s third baseman, Bill Bradley. The young pitcher met with team president John Kilfoyl with the hope of signing a contract. Wary of his experience in Waterloo, Marquard did not want to be taken advantage of again. When Kilfoyl offered $100 a month, Marquard balked. “I get that much from the ice cream company, and in addition, I get to eat all the ice cream I want.”

The thing is that we have some teams for whom there is no destroying amount of money. The Yankees can just spend more, as can the Dodgers or Mets. The Cubs can spend tons. The Giants have piles of dough. The Blue Jays have now said they don’t really care if they go over the luxury tax. The Angels have spent gobs of money, albeit wholly ineffectually, and will continue to do so, maybe more successfully. Then you have the Rays, Pirates, etc., teams that need to be perfect in all their decision making and a bit lucky to win it all.

He was the Prince Fielder of his day.