Wednesday Afternoon Frappuccino
Grand designs, dept.


Mo' Dawg called for our guesstimations, as to the market trend for Granderson.  



Here is that four-part series on the lad.  The Exec Sum is that Granderson:

  • Has chosen to become a hacker -- a .240 hitter with 35-40 homers (cf Carlos Quentin, Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, now Josh Hamilton)
  • Is a legit 175-190 PX guy (very elite)
  • Plays mediocre-to-dubious CF ... which would be okay with Taijuan and K-Pax in there
  • Gives you a "hard" 3.0 to 4.0 WAR (has done it for 160 games, in batter's box, in postseason, etc)
  • Scores a lot of runs too

The M's have indicated that they want two (2) frontline power hitters.  If Granderson were the second, he would certainly qualify as such.  And he'd be doing it from CF.

He's not AS good a player as his 40-homer seasons suggest, but he's not to be underestimated.  He changes the scoreboard, both at the front end and back end, and he plays in the middle of the field.


Market Rate

MLBTradeRumors guessed 3 x $15M for his next contract.  

Fangraphs 'crowdsourcing' guessed 4 x $14M as the contract that Granderson would sign -- but as with every free agent on their list, readers said that (in real life) they would cap their offer for less, at fewer years.  This reflects the fact that we baseball fans do not feel that free agents are worth the deals they get.

The Yankees and Mets (!) are supposedly in a mild rivalry for his services right now.  We suppose you can take it from there, as far as the possibility of a 3 x $11M type deal popping up.


Back-Loaded Contracts

If you just joined us, MLB teams like to UNDERpay free agents at the beginning of their contracts, and OVERpay them at the end.  In a happy coincidence, players also like these arrangements.  (How many lear jets do you need in 2014?)

Here is an article in which even a noted financial tight-purse does /cosign on the idea of contracts with 'crazy' overpays at the end of them.  He demonstrates that if you don't like the idea of 9 x $25M for Robinson Cano, then you'd better be prepared to pay 5 x $35M instead.  And why wouldn't you want the four extra free years?  As well as the ability to defer dollars and pay them when they're deflated?


Whenever a player signs one of these mega contracts, a significant part of the reaction is that the deal is crazy because of how overpaid the player is going to be at the end of the deal. That is usually a true statement, but it is far too narrow of a way of viewing contracts. If teams were primarily interested in avoiding having dead money on the books, then the average salary of the highest paid players in the game would be something like $10 million per year higher than it is now.

That is not the choice that teams and players have made. Both sides have agreed that they would rather transfer those up-front costs to the back end of the deal, giving the player security of knowing where he’ll spend most of the rest of his career, while deferring a portion of the cost of carrying a star player to nearly a decade from now. ...

Any team who trades for David Price this winter is going to be giving up players who project to have significant value from 2016-2020ish, and in acquiring Price, they’ll be getting zero expected production from him in those years, barring a very expensive contract extension before he reaches free agency. Even with an extension, the cost of buying out free agency is going to be so high that they’ll be receiving little surplus value in those years. Meanwhile, the prospects they’ve traded away will have to be replaced with future spending. Acquiring Price for prospects is, at the end of the day, not that different from signing a a player to a six or seven year contract when you only expect him to perform for two of those six or seven years.

Yet this kind of borrowing from the future is widely accepted as a roster building technique. Trading prospects for veterans is what contending teams do, and is considered part of the value of having a strong farm system in the first place. Making the same kind of decision, only substituting in future cash instead of future cost controlled players, often leads to derision and scorn.

... I would suggest, however, that we view both types of moves as the same decision, and not immediately reject the value of deferring a premium free agent’s cost into years 7-10 simply because the contract is going to end poorly. It’s going to end poorly because, when these deals are done right, they provide a huge amount of value at the beginning of the contract, far and above what a player is actually worth based on his production.

Declaring that any contract a bad contract if it ends with multiple years of low performance-to-salary ratios is simply incomplete analysis. 

Don’t want to give Robinson Cano a nine year deal? That’s fine, and perhaps even rational. ...


LH vs RH bats issue

Also see this shtick.  

Or not.


Dr's R/X

Granderson's Established Level of Performance, in my opinion, is at the 3.0 - 4.0 WAR level, which means $15-20M would be an "average" market rate for his skills.  (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH a "correct" market pay for his skills in every scenario.)

Let that sink in for a moment.  To pay $15-20M to Granderson, over the next couple of years, would be like paying $3.25 for gasoline.  It's simply the "fair" price for gas, if you in fact want to use gasoline.  If you go to Nordstrom and want to buy a Loro Piana cashmere trenchcoat off the rack, it's $700.  If you want to go out and bid on a proven star like Curtis Granderson, it's $15-20M for one.

Granderson is subject to age decline, as are almost all FA's, but the 3 (max 4) year situation basically leaves that a non-issue.  Supposing he is worth $20M in 2014, and then $15M in 2015, and then $10M in 2016, and then $5M in 2017, that's fine.

As James reminds us, offseasons are more about opportunity than preferences.  It's almost more an issue of whether we happen into Granderson, than whether we prefer him.  If we do, and he's one of two bats in, that is basically a WIN for the offseason.  If you are being binary -- I/O -- then Granderson and (Cruz?) is going to (theoretically) do what you need it to do - provide the backup your attempted 115 ERA+ pitching staff.

Granderson is -- per the fans' guesses, at least -- a quite reasonably-priced and fairly low-risk free agent.  The question is really whether you want him.

Beltran vs Cruz vs Granderson vs a lot of these guys, it's really a matter of taste, at least more so than most winters.  But then that's where our lead image came in :- )


Dr D




RockiesJeff's picture

Scouting, analysis and now combo of GM and agent. Very good. Have a Happy Thanksgiving Jeff!


"Granderson is -- per the fans' guesses, at least -- a quite reasonably-priced and fairly low-risk free agent. The question is really whether you want him."
Well, there is also the question if he really wants you. Free agency isn't a supermarket where you can just go down the isle, pick out what you want and pay at the checkout.


OK, so both the Big Apple franchises are rumored to be in on Granderson......but let's remember to take such rumors with a grain of salt. I was once rumored to be dating Kelly Lebrock, the wildly hot fantasy gal from the 80's movie "Weird Science." OK, it is true that I was the one who started such rumors. I admit that.
But MLB agents plant such absurd rumors all the time.
I still think that Granderson gets a 3 year deal with some sort of vesting agreement for year 4. If so, then really $17M is no different than $12M.
The M's should be aggressive...right now....and bid high for those first three years.
Oh...stick him in RF, too.
Take him and run.

blissedj's picture

Finite supply each year, that's why most of them get "overpaid". Then factor in a certain number of guys have no interest in playing for Seattle. Leaves Jack Z in a really tough spot. If he manages to lure 1 or 2 good ones he'll inevitably be criticized for spending too much. Or if options 1-10 have no interest in us he's left signing #11, and subject to more criticism through little fault of his own. Z has to do something because there are not enough good hitters on hand to field a respectable offense. Unless we rotate through castoffs and AAAA players like Houston last season. I guess that is an option of how to spend the 2014 season, but not a recipe for success. Sure hope we get lucky and a couple OF like our money and organization.


Offer Granderson 3x$15M (and be willing to go up a bit) and a vested 4th year, I'll guarantee he'll be interested. The guy has made $44M in his career, he will not turn up his nose at that amount over three years...and possibly more. It seems that he's rumored to be in other teams sights, but that doesn't mean they've offered. Throw it out there and give it a time limit.
If Granderson is so hung up on "winning" then he's not interested in the Mets. Basically he's stuck with waiting on the Yankees and the Red Sox, everything else has risk.

blissedj's picture

M's need to be bold. Granderson would be a huge step in the right direction.


It is part of Jack's job to convince the players he wants to come to Seattle. He has to be a recruiter. Just look what Pete Carroll has done.
Since Jack has been here, IF players have more and more not wanted to come to Seattle ... this is a clear sign that Jack / M's front office are not getting the job done.

blissedj's picture

Very difficult time now for Jack Z. Phase 1 looks good with building the young core of cheap talent. If Z is unable to get anyone here from outside the organization then he'll be replaced. The last few years of saying they were waiting for the right moment to strike is done, and now it's time to do whatever it is they've been waiting on.

misterjonez's picture

As the #2 offensive add, he's a winning piece of the puzzle. As the top piece of the puzzle, Granderson would represent little more than the replacement of some Kendrys/Raul combination.
The caveat which Doc and I like to use, "As a SECOND add..." is almost CERTAINLY the same criteria a player like Granderson's own self would use to determine whether or not to sign in a place like this.
People lambasted the Werth signing in WAS, and there were plenty of reasons to do so. BUT! They did so for the publicly expressed purpose of proving they were serious in taking that next step - a position they clearly sold Werth and ensuing players on. But even Werth had options, and some of those options had to have been enticing, even for less money to better teams, simply because they gave him a better chance to win short-term.
A guy like Granderson has to factor in the other moves a team is likely to make during the offseason. Obviously the club won't give him their entire battle plan, but they have to prove to him they're serious about improving and not just creating a smokescreen. These athletes, above all else, want to WIN. They'll sacrifice that burning desire in the face of way too much money, but they won't do it for one or two points of difference in total value to go from a winner to a loser. For the most part, anyway.
And would we really want players whose priority is something other than winning, even if such players were available to us?


The Nationals signed Adam LaRoche one month after they signed Werth. They gave LaRoche $15M for two seasons. He made $4.5M the season previous. Is your thesis that LaRoche would have NEVER signed with Washington if Werth hadn't signed a month earlier? That he would have taken a discount to sign with another team. For their $15M they got one total dismal season and one good one.
Other FA signing recently ('12 and '13) were Chad Tracy in '12. They got 112 PA's from him. He was hardly a difference maker, before or after. In '13 they signed Soriano and Ohlendorf, two relievers who game them 126 innings combined. Are you saying that they wouldn't have come if Werth hadn't been signed? That the 96 wins in '12 and that the presence of Harper, Zimmerman, Desmond and a bunch of young great arms (+ $11M a year for Soriano) had nothing to do with it?
It doesn't compute jonez.
If Granderson is a good buy, then the M's need to go that way and worry about other good buys later. I suspect they will get a couple of bats, likely an OF and a DH/1B. They may add a lesser OF, too. But if they sign Morales and Granderson is that a failure because Grandy doesn't take a backseat to Kendrys?
There are only three players out there in the FA market that would be a louder signing than Granderson: Choo, Cano and Ellsbury. Maybe Cruz and Beltran are in the same area. If we don't sign one of them we can't get Granderson?

misterjonez's picture

My point was that players care about the future of the ballclub they're signing onto. I'm not talking about a breakdown of which move went down and when; my point was simply that players want to win, and they need convincing in order to sign if it's not clear HOW they're going to win. This applies not only to potential acquisitions via FA - but also to players currently on the roster who might be considering a choice between fight and flight.
When the Werth signing went down, the A-1 talking point out of WAS was that it was a signal of their willingness to win and make hard decisions. Secondary and tertiary points had to do with his ability as a player and fit for their ballclub: the top thing they came out talking about, if memory serves, was that it signified a willingness to be more aggressive and try to win. This is something you do to bolster your credibility, pure and simple
We can argue about the efficacy, efficiency, or any other merit surrounding the Werth signing - indeed, a roster constructed of Jayson Werth-type players with commensurate contracts would be an epic disaster. But that wasn't my point. My point was that if you try selling Granderson on a nice night at the park and sweet hydro races to watch while he warms up in the OF between innings, you're likely going to find yourself in a literally impossible situation if you're trying to sign him.
Players want money, it's true. But they also want to win. Actually I have an interesting example of this that happened in our own backyards: Sexson and Beltre.
When Sexson signed, it was generally taken as a reasonable deal locally - risky, but reasonable - and Richie himSELF came out on the radio shows that evening and said, "They ain't done yet. We've got one more huge player to add, and it's going to happen soon," or something to that effect.
Then we signed Beltre the following day.
What I'm saying is that you have to PROVE to these guys that you're willing to do more than just pretend you're going to go compete. Sexson was CLEARLY very interested in the fact that Beltre's contract was being finalized when he signed his own deal, to the point of publicly talking about it on local sports media. Beltre likely was interested in Sexson's signing, as well.
The Werth example was just the first one to come to my mind. Beltre/Sexson was better; I realize that now ;)

M's Watcher's picture

Werth wouldn't have signed with e Gnats without the huge overpay contract he wasn't getting anywhere else, and it wasn't the prospect of winning. The Gnats were bad and had a history of being bad, like the Mariners. Jack might be able to recruit Hart, as there could be a positive relationship from Milwaukee days, or Ellsbury due to PNW connections, but that is about it. Every team tries to put a positive spin on their team, so some are like used car salesmen and are selling lemons. Sure, go after Grandy for $15-20M and 3-4 years. But don't wait until the cupboards are bare at Value Village.

M-Pops's picture

Millwood, Branyan, Saunders. All examples of opportunity adds. The M's have more cash now, but will have to get in line behind the big orgs.
I suspect the M's will sign whoever of the top tier FAs are left after LAD, NYY, DET, LAA and BOS make their choices.
Tanaka is the wild card. Winning the bid is the only way the M's get a "preference" FA vs an "opportunity" FA.
Outbidding the Yankees by $5 mil for negotiating rights would be preferable to overpaying by two or three times that to land Ellsbury, Choo, or the preferred SP – more financially prudent, anyway.
A Tanaka coupe would also give the M's the excuse to wait around for the "opportunity" additions that they seem to prefer.

blissedj's picture

but with this offense it's just spending $100M+ to lose more games 2-1. We already have one of those pitching his butt off for 12,13 wins a year. Dang near every penny we spend should be for scoring runs or protecting our rare late innings leads. If we can add Tanaka and still have a league average offense and respectable bullpen I'm all for it.

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