It’s pretty rare that a top-flight pitcher who is signed to team-friendly contract for multiple years becomes available, as is the case with Ubaldo Jimenez. The most common comp I’ve seen bandied about by the guys who do this stuff for a living has been the 07 Dan Haren deal. So I wanted to look at the two deals and see how they match up.
First, let’s look the focus of this deal in Haren and see how he matches up with Ubaldo, to see how comparable they are as pitchers.
Year Age Tm Lg IP GS R Rrep Rdef aLI RAR WAR Salary Awards 2006 22 COL NL 7.2 1 4 5 0 .8 1 0.1 2007 23 COL NL 82.0 15 46 48 5 .9 2 0.2 2008 24 COL NL 198.2 34 97 128 -4 1.0 31 3.1 392000 2009 25 COL NL 218.0 33 87 136 -1 1.1 49 5.1 750000 2010 26 COL NL 221.2 33 73 145 1 1.1 72 7.2 1250000 ASCYA-3MVP-23 2011 27 COL NL 110.1 18 57 77 -1 1.0 20 1.9
Dan Haren (up to 07)
Year Age Tm Lg IP GS R Rrep Rdef aLI RAR WAR Salary Awards 2003 22 STL NL 72.2 14 44 40 1 1.0 -4 -0.4 2004 23 STL NL 46.0 5 23 25 2 .8 2 0.1 2005 24 OAK AL 217.0 34 101 131 7 .9 30 2.9 323500 2006 25 OAK AL 223.0 34 109 146 -2 .9 37 3.6 550000 2007 26 OAK AL 222.2 34 91 141 -4 1.0 50 5.2 2250000 AS .
While the 2011 numbers for Ubaldo are incomplete (Fangraphs has Ubaldo at roughly a 5 win pace for 2011) they aren’t needed to show that Ubaldo is a significantly better pitcher than Dan Haren was at the same age. That 2010 season may have been a career year, but even assuming a 5 WAR seasonal average and he’s still ahead of Haren at a similar point of their careers. But 2010 did happen, and Jimenez proved himself to be one of the best pitchers on the planet, while Haren only showed that type of ability after he was traded in his 2 years with Arizona (12.6 WAR). It may even be fair to grade Jimenez on somewhat of a curve, pitching in Colorado and showing a significant career Home/Road split. Suffice to say Ubaldo’s the better pitcher at the time of the deal, so he should fetch more than Haren did.
Next, let’s look at the two players contracts and see how they match up. From Cots:
- 4 years/$12.65M (2006-09), plus 2010 club option
- signed extension with Oakland 9/05
- acquired by Arizona in trade from Oakland 12/14/07
- $0.2M signing bonus
- 06:$0.5M, 07:$2.2M, 08:$4M, 09:$5.5M, 10:$6.75M club option ($0.25M buyout)
- 4 years/$10M (2009-12), plus 2013-14 club options
- signed extension with Colorado 1/27/09
- 09:$0.75M, 10:$1.25M, 11:$2.8M, 12:$4.2M, 13:$5.75M club option ($1M buyout), 14:$8M club option ($1M buyout)
- 2014 option only if 2013 option is exercised (may void 2014 if traded)
There hasn’t been much salary inflation in baseball over the past few years, so these numbers can be taken at face value. In Haren’s case, he was signed for 3 seasons after the deal. Jimenez is signed for 2 additional seasons, since he is a lock to decline that 8M for 2014 if traded. With Ubaldo you are also getting him for an additional one third of a season, since were talking about a midseason deadline deal and Haren was traded in December of 07. In Haren’s case there was 16.5 M remaining on his contract, with Ubaldo its just under 12M. Fangraphs has Ubaldo’s worth for this year alone projecting to be upwards of 20 mil, and over the past four seasons he’s been averaging about 23 mil per season. So along with the 1/3 of a season of production for this year, Ubaldo figures to give a team a whopping 53 mil worth of value at a cost of less than 12 mil for the remainder of his contract. In terms of prospects you have to come up with the difference, which is 41 mil worth of players. According to Victor Wang’s research, a top 10 hitting prospect is worth more than double that (23.72 WARP) over the 6 years of team control, which breaks down to 19.75M per year. A top 10 pitching prospect is worth approximately half that of a positional player. Since you’re buying 2.33 years of Jimenez, the Rockies would theoretically break even on the deal if they got back just Montero, who despite his down year has maintained his top 10 status in BPs midseason rankings. But of course, each deal is unique and every GM is looking for the other side to overpay as much as possible. Since the Rockies are in no rush to deal Jimenez, bidders will have to sweeten the pot to make a deal too good to pass up.
Finally, let’s look at the players stats and their BA rankings at the time of the Haren deal. Of course we’re all geniuses with the benefit of hindsight, but what did the deal look like at the time it was made? Here’s the 07 Haren deal from BR:
Brett Anderson and Carlos Gonzalez appear to be the headliners, but at the time of the deal CarGo was the only player ranked in the BA top 100 (#18) and MLB ready. Brett Anderson was a highly thought of 19 year old, but was in his first year of pro ball that struggled in his first promotion to High A. In 07 Chris Carter was putting up nice numbers in A-ball, but showed an alarming strikeout tendency. Before the deal Cunningham was putting up nice numbers in AA, but like Carter was unranked in BA’s top 100. Dana Eveland had ‘fringy MLB player’ written all over him in 07, and that forecast was correct. Leading up to the trade Greg Smith was an interesting but all too hittable Lefty in AAA.
The only sure thing in the 07 Haren deal was Carlos Gonzalez. Not only that, but the D-Backs held on to the vast majority of their most coveted players. They kept Justin Upton (BA #9) Chris Young (BA #12) Miguel Montero (BA#63) Alberto Callaspo (BA #82) and Micah Owings (BA #98). Again, Jimenez is better than Haren and should fetch more. But if the Haren deal is any guide then Montero, a Killer B, plus filler will be something of an overpay. The 07 Haren deal was a classic case of quantity over quality.
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