10 January 2018

Extending Jonathan Schoop... Or Not

When one asks who pray tell is the face of the franchise, you hear a few names.  You hear Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Zach Britton, or maybe Buck Showalter.  Some who wish for some solace in the wake of Machado's expected exit some time in the next year, wish for Jonathan Schoop to be extended and take the reins.  As it is, the contract-based face of the franchise in the coming years is pretty much Chris Davis.  With his deal ending after the 2022 season (assuming he plays that long), his deal spans three years longer than Darren O'Day and Mark Trumbo whose deals end after the 2019 season.  To be it another way, Trey Mancini's last arbitration year is scheduled to be the same as Chris Davis' last contractural year.  But, wait, what about Jonathan Schoop?  That is presumably what this article is about.

On the surface, there are concerns that maybe Jonathan Schoop is not interested in an extension.  In 2016, he signed a deal with Fantex where the company paid him 4.91 MM up front and in return Schoop gives Fantex 10% of his earnings.  That deal increased his 2016 pay from 0.52 MM to 5.43 MM.  In 2017, Schoop paid 0.35 MM to Fantex.  In 2018, he is expected to hand over 0.91 MM.  Fantex has already recouped about a quarter of their initial investment.  What this means is that with Schoop's wages being garnished, he may well wish to explore every option to maximize his value.  Rarely does a player ever take a homegrown discount and this is certainly a scenario where there is little reason to expect that and, instead, we should expect a full market value deal if any extension will be reached.

This also complicates matters because a full market extension within the context of today is one that pegs Jonathan Schoop as a second baseman.  It is true with the development of shifting that range has decreased greatly as a skill requirement for playing up the middle.  Schoop, who is fairly slow for a second baseman, has been able to get away with subpar range by sitting further back than most second basemen and being heavily positioned.  His strong arm helps make it work for him to sit so deep.

However, the recent years have shown issues that cause some concern.  In the minors and his first stint in the Majors, it was fairly obvious that he was inadequate as a third baseman.  He first step was terrible and he had difficulty getting down to the ground.  It is difficult to play the position if you are a step late and have trouble getting down on balls on the side.  Those issues were less impacting at second base.  He has lost athleticism these past few seasons, which was expected.  The problem is that he is showing further issues with his first step and getting down on the ball even at second base, sitting so deep.  This has changed a conversation from where does Schoop fit in his 30s on the field to one where it is plausible that he might need to find a home off second base sooner than that.

As you know, it is hard to find a powerful bat capable of playing second base.  That is one aspect that makes Schoop so valuable.  When you take that bat and place it at third base, right field, or, God forbid, first base, that offensive ability no longer stands above the pack, but begins to look rather ordinary next to others in that positional cohort.  Schoop will be looking at his maximum value and would likely choose to prove himself as a viable second baseman than to accept a lesser deal based on him playing a different position down the road.

So what does a Jonathan Schoop deal look like?  MLBTR expects an arbitration value of 9.1 MM.  Our own method (assuming an expectation of 3 WAR and a second year arbitration rate of 34% market rate) comes up with 8.2 MM, but lets just say 9 MM.  His last year, we expect 10.6 MM, but let us be generous and peg him for 11 MM.  BORAS, as of this moment, see Schoop on the free market as a player who would see five years for a total of 83 MM (actually 82.7 MM, but we are using roundish numbers).  With arbitration dampening his value, the actual extension would be around 71 MM.

That said, the BORAS model sees that Schoop does not have a long track record.  For Schoop, he will likely want to bet on himself and that likely means so will the Orioles if they wish to extend him.  BORAS sees Schoop, if he continues to perform at the same level as last year, earning a five year contract after the 2019 season that is worth 94 MM.  In this scenario, the extension would be the 20 MM for the arbitration years and then that deal, so seven years at 114 MM.

The final scenario is if Schoop has all the confidence in the world and thinks as he enters his age 26 and 27 seasons that his performance will rise even higher.  If we accept a full one WAR increase, then we are saying that Schoop turns from the 4 WAR" player he was last year and into a "5 WAR" player.  BORAS would think that would yield Schoop a five year deal worth 113 MM after 2019.  The extension in this case would be a seven year deal worth 133 MM.  The five year deal arrangement would be around 5/86.

So that is the range of options that we might expect if Schoop becomes the new contract-based face of the organization.  Five year deals would range from 71 to 86 MM and seven year deal would range from 114 to 133 MM.  These are major cost outlays and it makes one wonder if the Orioles are dedicated to fielding competitive teams in the years to come.  If they are, then Schoop makes sense (if you believe he can be a four to five WAR player at whatever position he ends up at ).  If not, then the surplus value in his near term arbitration-base deals could set the club up with getting a decent prospect return to try to prime the next competitive window for the club.


Rob said...

Where does he go if he can't play 2nd? Corner outfield?

Pip said...

How is Schoop viewed around the league? He can hit but he also strikes out a lot, although he has been improving. I don't know whether his defense is middle of the pack or bottom, but his strong and accurate arm really covers a lot of sins.
He is almost certainly going to be too expensive to extend, the front office doesn't seem to be interested in extensions, so it would probably be wiser to trade him, if the league values his abilities.

Jon Shepherd said...

Effectively, the front office has extended JJ Hardy, Darren O'Day, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, and Chris Davis.

Pip said...

I wasn't sure whether Mcphail extended JJ, and I suppose 40% success rate is ok, but heavens the misses sure were big(though I don't blame Dan for the Davis contract which bumps the rate to an even 50%)

Unknown said...

We already know the outcome: the Orioles won't extend him early, he will only get better and then the O's will either offer him an over-the-top contract or watch him walk like Machado when he hits free agency.

gorav114 said...

Oday, Trumbo, and Davis were signed as free agents. I can't even recall the orioles signing an extension to a player they drafted in a long time.