Walker, Paxton, Hultzen: the Right Price Points, 1


Q.  Would it be feasible for the Mariners to offer these guys contracts ... this year?

A.  Well, Bowden called them Rays West.  It was the Rays who invented the idea of giving a kid a long-term contract in his first month.

Evan Longoria had his ML callup delayed by 10 games, and he signed a 9-year contract one week later.  Matt Moore threw 9 innings in the bigs, and then signed an 8-year deal after those 9 innings.

If you're going to keep this many hot young talents together, you'd better figure something out.


Q.  What was Matt Moore's deal ... and why would he sign it, considering that Tim Lincecum just got a $17M arb offer from the club, for year 5 alone?

A.  Moore's deal will become the precedent for all such future contracts:

Year 1 $1M League minimum, $425k 
Year 2 $1M $400-600k typical
Year 3 $1M ~ $600k typical
Year 4 $3M Typical arb for ace:  $5M
Year 5 $5M Typical arb:  $8M
Year 6 $7.5 club opt, or $2.5M and FA $14M typical arb
Year 7 $9M club opt, or $1.0M and FA FA salary $8-20M
Year 8 $10M club opt, or $0.75M and FA FA salary $8-20M

Why would Moore take so little, when he might get $20M per year in years 5 and 6?  Because he's not guaranteed to win the Cy Young award twice; he's not even guaranteed to be pitching in year 5.

In order to take his shot at making $40-50M over the next six years, Matt Moore would have to give up the $15M that he was able to secure at the time he signed his contract.  If you inherited $15M, would you take it to the craps table and lay it down in an attempt to win an extra $25M?  If you would, you're foolish.

The first $15M is far, far more important to a man than is the following $25M.  The first $15M buys you every luxury that a man can truly enjoy.  The following $25M is just decadence.


And don't forget - $15M is just the guarantee, if Moore never pitches again.  If Moore's any good at all, he'll get almost $30M for those first six years.  Not $15M.


Q.  How did the Rays come up with these salary figures?

A.  Tom Tango has a really fun read about that, in this thread.

EXEC SUM:  the Rays could have paid Moore almost nothing for years 1-3.  Then, assuming that Moore was an ace and was healthy, the Rays could have paid him these arb awards:

Year 4 $4M
Year 5 $8M
Year 6 $14M

Supposing the Rays cut Matt Moore a contract at those dollars, they'd have been "caving in" and guaranteeing him the same arb wins that Felix, Verlander, and Jered Weaver got.

But, of course, it's not for sure that Moore will be healthy and an ace.  How much do you discount, in order to give Moore a fair "insurance" contract for Y4, Y5, Y6?  The Rays apparently discounted those years 25%, 30%, and 40% - the farther out you go, the less likely that Moore completes all those years.

Tango, who works with ML clubs on this stuff, says that there isn't much inflation in the arb system.  It's not a huge deal that we're talking about 2016 seasons, I guess.


Q.  Okay.  But why would Moore agree to team options, then?

A.  The obvious premise is that it is the club who is doing the pitcher a favor, when it offers to pay the pitcher, right now, for 60% of his best 6th year.

The Rays offered those 60%-80% paychecks right now, but only on condition that they get to pay him 50% for his years 7 and 8.

Also, they sweetened the deal very nicely by giving him $1M per year instantly.  That allows Moore to begin his lavish lifestyle today.


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