10 October 2017

How Much is That Pitcher in the Window?: 2017/18 FA SP BORAS Projections

After the 2015 season, the Depot decided to get more organized with our off season blueprint series.  To make things more standardized, I developed a model, BORAS (Ballplayer Observation-based Remuneration Assumption System).  There are actually two models, a pitcher model and a position player model.  The models use a variety of data and considers player performance against the 2017/18 adjusted contract money.  Players are limited to those who pay reflected a value of 1 WAR or more.  In the first year, both models outperformed other projection estimates (e.g., Bowden, Heyman, MLBTR, Cameron, FG Fan Model).  Last year, the pitching model performed second best of that group and the position player model was the second worst.  This year,my sniff test is telling me that the pitcher model might be a little conservative, but will be much more on the nose than the position player model.  In my next article, I will discuss my concerns with the position player model, but this post is about the pitchers.

This pitching post is likely of particular interest to Orioles fans.  With about 50 MM in spending room after arbitration and assuming that payroll will remain steady, the club has the opportunity to revamp their starting rotation.  As the Orioles enter into this offseason, they effectively have Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the rotation.  Some have suggested that Gabriel Ynoa or Miguel Castro should be given a 5th slot competition, but when you have 50 MM on hand you probably should aim higher.

BORAS Projected Contract Terms (updated 10/16)

Age Years Total
Jake Arrieta 32 3 51.8
Yu Darvish 31 4 69.3
Andrew Cashner 31 3 33.9
Jhoulys Chacin 30 3 37.4
Jaime Garcia 31 2 22.9
CC Sabathia 37 2 23
Alex Cobb 30 3 31.1
Miguel Gonzalez 34 2 20.9
Lance Lynn 31 2 18.4
Tyler Chatwood 28 4 41.9
Wade Miley 31 2 15.8
Jeremy Hellickson 31 2 15.7
Jason Vargas 35 2 17.2
Extrapolated - Poor
Clayton Richard 34 2 17.5
Ricky Nolasco 35 2 15.8
Francisco Liriano 34 1 5.8
Hisashi Iwakuma 37 NRI
Scott Feldman 35 1 5
Trevor Cahill 30 2 8.4
Yovani Gallardo 32 1 4.6
Brett Anderson 30 2 10.2
Hector Santiago 30 1 4
Chris Tillman 30 2 6.8
Tyson Ross 31 1 3.4
Matt Cain 33 1 2.4
Derek Holland 31 1 1.5

The strength of the model has really been driven by accuracy in players with three or more years projected.  Additionally, there is more strength in the model when players are projected to earn between 10-25 MM in 2017/18 dollars.  With that in mind, the model expresses a high level of certainty for Arrieta, Darvish, Cashner, and Chacin.  One wrench is that Marco Estrada also fell into this sweet spot and wound up get two years less on his extension, but for the same average annual value.

Several players seemed to drop off from their midseason expectations with less than stellar second halfs.  Yu Darvish went from a projected 6/118 deal to 4/59 as he scuttled.  It will be interested to see if his struggles in the second half will put a major damper on his value.  Jason Vargas, as I was expected, had his value collapse as he came back down to earth.  He dropped from a stunning 4/80 (man, that first half was good) to 2/16.  Jake Arrieta delivered a stronger second half and saw a modest increase from 3/45 to 3/53.

Below are the changes from midseason (which projected a continuation of first half performance throughout the season) and the end of year projection.

ASB End %
Miguel Gonzalez 6 10.1 68
Jhoulys Chacin 9.3 11.5 24
Alex Cobb 13.3 10.2 23
Jake Arrieta 15 17.6 17
Wade Miley 8 9.3 16
Andrew Cashner 12.7 11.8 -7
Jeremy Hellickson 10.3 8.9 -14
CC Sabathia 12.5 10.5 -16
Francisco Liriano 7 5.4 -23
Brett Anderson 6 4.6 -23
Jaime Garcia 14 10.7 -24
Yu Darvish 19.7 14.8 -25
Hector Santiago 5.5 4.1 -26
Lance Lynn 14 9.9 -29
Clayton Richard 11 7.7 -30
Tyler Chatwood 14.3 9.9 -31
Yovani Gallardo 7 4.8 -31
Chris Tillman 6 4 -32
Tyson Ross 6.5 3.4 -48
Scott Feldman 11 5 -55
Trevor Cahill 15.7 5 -68
Jason Vargas 20 8.2 -69
Derek Holland 5 1.5 -70

It certainly amazing how much a second half can change the trajectory of overall performance. Anyway, based on these figures, the Orioles should be able to acquire three new starting pitchers. No, not much looks to be available which is similar to last year.  With each free agent season, it appears that incredibly enticing free agents are typically locked into deals before they hit the market.  Maybe without a top tier of pitching available yet there still being a need for pitchers, we might see these contracts wind up being on the low end.

We shall see.


Anonymous said...

Bring back Tillman on a one year "make good" contract. Then sign two of Garcia, Cobb, Lynn. Both Cobb and Lynn will get better another year out from their surgeries and Garcia has been pretty reliable all last year. I still think a Britton/Trumbo for Teheran/Kemp makes a lot of sense for both sides if Baltimore is willing to belly-up the bucks. Britton's arb salary will make Angelos cringe (of course, waive the physical for Kemp, LOL).

LL said...

Interesting idea, though not sure what the Braves would want with one year of Britton + Trumbo. And IMO, if the Orioles are dealing Britton, they ought to be looking for prospects

Unknown said...

Kemp or Teheran do not improve this ballclub. I would rather see Gentry given a chance to play everyday in the OF.
Stating the obvious, Pitching, pitching, & more pitching.

If we trade Britton or Brach it should be for pitching prospects only.

Take that 45-50 Mil. and sign 2 of the best pitchers you can get. Granted they won't be "lights out" quality Starting pitchers, more likely mid-tier pitchers for the back of the rotation.
Hoping for strong comeback yrs. from Tillman, Davis, and Trumbo is just wishful thinking and not how Pennants are won. Cut loose Tillman and read Trumbo & Davis the RIOT ACT, letting them know up front that another lousy performance yr. will not be tolerated.

I'm optimistic about the upcoming season, but I can't tell you why. Just blindful optimism, like the O's Front Office

Mike Bonsiero said...

"Cut loose Tillman and read Trumbo & Davis the RIOT ACT, letting them know up front that another lousy performance yr. will not be tolerated."

1) Do you think they're not trying?
2) Even if you're right, they both have guaranteed contracts, so I don't know how "not tolerating" it would work.

AZRon said...

The current 2018 Orioles opening day payroll projects at $128.82M.

See my post:


If the O's were to match the 2017 opening day payroll, they have $35.5M left to spend.

Anonymous said...

Someone is going to get Tillman cheap. He will be highly motivated on a one year contract and is worth the risk at his age. He would likely rather build his value with the O's than in an unfamiliar environment and, at the price he's going to rate, he can be moved to the bullpen as a long reliever and not lose too much value. Teheran is cheap, reliable, and controllable and a better pitcher than anything you'll find on the FA market. The cost is high because the Braves need to dump Kemp's salary and taking on Trumbo mitigates that and provides them a different bad contract asset that's actually easier to trade (note that both have two years left on their contracts). Kemp's value goes up with the O's as he can strictly DH and his bat is still potent (and more reliable than Trumbo). Teheran is exactly the kind of SP the O's need (a legitimate SP) - the O's have no interest in prospects, they want MLB assets to win now. On the Braves side, Trumbo is a better fielder than Kemp (!!) and has experience in the NL and could really bash in SunTrust and is less injury prone and can platoon with Markakis (or Adams). One of their biggest needs is slugging. Their other biggest need is in the bullpen and this solves both. They also need to stabilize their bullpen with a lockdown closer and, while Britton carries risk, the reward is worth it. They would take one year and, if he pans out, extend him. If he doesn't pan out then their prospects take over. But considering how having Britton improved the whole O's bullpen, the sum of Britton's value is greater than his individual value. It's exactly the kind of trade the Braves made when they traded Kimbrel and Melvin to dump Melvin's contract (got almost nothing in return). Big win/win for both sides.

Jon Shepherd said...

We are using different sources. My numbers considered deferred money and payments to non players as well as some MLB appearance money that seems to not be preaent. Added to that a few million in head space that the club kept last year.

Jon Shepherd said...

I think going with 35.5 MM is fine, but that is not maxing out.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I think you've discussed that O's/Braves trade under a previous post, and I still don't think it makes much sense.

Also, Tillman very well may want to return to the O's. There would be worse things than him coming back on a one-year deal. But him going to an NL squad, with a bigger ballpark, probably makes more sense for him to rebuild his value.

Unknown said...

When the Braves traded Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton to the Padres, they did not receive "nothing" in return. They got Cameron Maybin, who didn't exactly work out but did provide positive value, Matt Wisler, who was the Padres #1 prospect at the time the trade was made, and a competitive balance draft pick. For the Braves to trade a reasonably-priced starting pitcher for salary relief and a one-year closer rental makes no sense.

Unknown said...

I like the projection model and it seems to match the players true values. However, the actual market for these players are a different beast. Competition should lift Arieta and Darvish's values higher.

The Orioles should focus on short term deals, probably no longer than 2 years. (I'm definitely a fan of Tyson Ross for 1 year/3.5m) There is organizational help looming by 2019 in the form of Hunter Harvey, Aiken, Sedlock, or Alex Wells. You have to project that at least two of those pitchers will be able to contribute by then. You don't want to get into a Chris Davis situation with the starting rotation.

Jon Shepherd said...

The probability that any of those pitchers are a viable starting pitcher is probably more like 1 in 20 or so.

Regarding market value, maybe. Last year, the numbers were almost all on the nose. So, they hit market value.

Unknown said...

Maybin is a one time super prospect who finally achieved Ml mediocre status!

Pip said...

Jon, last year Dan literally did nothing to acquire worthwhile starting pitching. He merely picked up several lottery tickets on waiver claims and cash trades, hoping that one or two would turn out to be OK, but none of them did.
Lottery tickets are fine as long as you do something else, and Dan did not.
Given the fact that even someone like Miguel Gonzalez is projected to get an incomprehensible $20 million( after being dumped for nothing by Dan, which is one of his stupider moves )how much of an argument could be made for repeating last off-season's practice? Get a bunch of non-tenders, waiver claims, and cash trades, and see if one or two of them works out?
Dan has proven he has not the slightest idea how to evaluate pitching, and has spent 80-odd million dollars on really terrible pitchers, while letting much better values slip by without even expressing interest in them.
Given Dan's track record of non-success with pitching, could an arguement be made for focusing on defense and a better balanced offense, and avoiding expensive free agents on the grounds that they will probably be wasted money?
The difference between what we could expect from the mediocrities we could afford among the free agents, and the alternative is almost certainly not worth the expense.

Jon Shepherd said...

Well, the first half of his tenure he was actually pretty successful in filling out the rotation and got some very good performance. 2014 was pretty amazing. Chen was a good pickup.

Last winter, he had issues. He had six starting pitchers. None of them were particular impressive outside of Gausman, but he could not exactly automatically send anyone to the pen or release them. He eased it up by letting go one of the terrible ones (Gallardo).

So, I would suggest that maybe the track record is more of a mix than you suggest. I also think going after defense is fine, but is hard to get a true value of. Offense? Maybe on the fringe, but they have warm bodies that do not look miserable outside of Davis and Trumbo.