26 March 2018

Lance Lynn's Contract is Alex Cobb's Contract

This past week, the Orioles signed Alex Cobb and defended a late attempt by the Padres to spirit the right hander away.  The deal, four years and 57 MM, looked to be a rather remarkable victory by the pitcher who some thought may go unsigned into the season.  As information came out on the contract, it began to look less generous.

Cobb's deal broke down as such:
Immediate Deferred Total
2018 7.5 6.5 14
2019 9.5 4.5 14
2020 9.5 4.5 14
2021 10.25/5.25 4.75/9.75 15
adjusted 47
The deal, valued as 4/47, was similar to the deal earlier this offseason that was reportedly offered by the Cubs (4/48).  The deal was also suggested to be similar to what the Orioles were offering Lance Lynn.  Lynn rejected whatever the Orioles offered and grabbed a one year deal with the Twins for 12 MM and potentially another 2 MM in incentives.  The idea was that next year the Twins would not be allowed to put a Qualifying Offer on Lynn and his value would be less restricted.  Additionally, another successful year away from Tommy John rehabilitation would also improve his market.

I paired BORAS contract modeling with a WAR probability generator using PECOTA data, but scaled it all to fWAR/bWAR.  What we see is that the projection modeling thinks that if Lynn had the ability to choose Cobb's contract, then he maybe should have taken it.

2018 WAR Yr Total MM w/2018 $ Perc.
0 2 9.4 21.4 15th
0.5 2 12.3 24.3
1 2 15.2 27.2 30th
1.5 3 27.2 39.2
2 3 31.5 45.5 50th
2.5 3 35.8 49.8
3 3 40.2 54.2 70th
3.5 4 59 73
4 4 65.1 79.1 85th
4.5 4 71 85
5 5 96 110 95th

Last year, Lynn was viewed by bWAR as a 3.2 win player while fWAR saw him as roughly half of that (1.4 win).  Why the difference?  Well, fWAR saw how his strikeouts dropped, walks increased, and that he was hit hard. On the other hand, bWAR saw the outcomes of those events and credited him for not much damage coming from that.  Moving forward, the models seem to peg Lynn in the 1.5 to 2.5 win range.  These models ignore Lynn's dependence on his two seamer to such a great extent that some thing it may be indicative of a potential future arm injury.

Anyway, the 50th percentile comes in at 2.0 WAR for 2018.  BORAS thinks that performance with past performance would net Lynn a 3/31.5 deal.  That would be a total from the two deals of 4/45.5, which is effectively what Alex Cobb got.  If we use the probability approach of outcomes, then we get a total money weighted average of 49.8 MM, which is 6% greater than what Cobb's deal was.

I would suggest that they all are kind of the same.  Cobb agreed to a deal that ensured money in his pocket while Lynn got himself a deal that slightly more often than not he would find himself in a better monetary position than Cobb.


Anonymous said...

Cobb is the better pitcher. The O's did OK.

Jon Shepherd said...

It is pretty mixed between the scouts I talk to with a slight edge to Lynn. I like Cobb more long term because I think Lynn is actually more of an injury risk. I think if Cobb can throw his change and manage to hit 30 games a year (which he has never done) then he will be a better value, but that is really the big if. Any other way to look at it and Lynn has the edge.

Pip said...

Jon, what is the biggest potential danger with Cobb? Do we have to worry about walks, or fly ball rate, or… Well that's really all I can think of.
Some people have said that going from National League to American league is going to be bad for Lynn, I don't know whether that's valid or not, nor to what degree.