Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Matsui's New Deal

The big news of last night/this morning, of course, was the inking of Hideki Matsui to a 4-year, $52 million contract. The payout will be consistent throughout the four years of the contract, giving Hideki roughly $13 million of George’s money per year.

The big debate now pertains to whether Matsui deserves such a lucrative contract. He’s on the wrong side of 30, though it seems that matters less and less nowadays. He has provided three productive years for the team, and proven himself in the upper echelon of corner outfielders. So it’s safe to say that he deserved, at the very least, a significant raise over his initial 3 year, $21 million contract (which is the same contract Jaret Wright signed, for a bit of comparison there).

The main argument for the deal is that the market is thin this year, and losing Matsui – especially with the current gap in center field – would be detrimental to the team. Someone was going to pay Matsui what he wanted, so it might as well be his current team, which just so happens to be the richest team in baseball. The other side of the ball argues that market or not, this could end up being yet another investment the Yankees will bemoan by 2009.

Before anyone jumps to any rash conclusions (too late), let’s take a look at the position players with contracts greater than Matsui’s and those with similar deals. This will begin to give us a basis for comparison.

’06 Salary’07 Salary’08 Salary
Hideki Matsui (’06) $13$13$13
Gary Sheffield (’04)$13$13**N/A
Alex Rodriguez (’01)$25$27$27
Derek Jeter (’01)$19$20$20
Jason Giambi (’02)$18$21$21
Vladimir Guerrero (’04)$12.5$13.5$14.5
Jeff Bagwell (’02)$17$18**N/A
Lance Berkman (’05)$14.5$14.5$14.5
Jason Kendall (’02)$11$13N/A
Chipper Jones (’01)$17$15***$15***
Andruw Jones (’02) $13$13.5N/A
Albert Pujols (’04) $14$15$16
Scott Rolen (’03) $11$12$12
J.D. Drew (’05) $11$11$11
Barry Bonds (’02) $18**N/AN/A
Ichiro! (’04) $11$11N/A
Adrian Beltre (’05) $11$12$12
Richie Sexson (’05) $11.5$14$14
Carlos Delgado (’05) $13.5$14.5$16
Carlos Beltran (’05) $12$12$18.5
Miguel Tejada (’04) $10$12$13
Jim Thome (’03) $12.5$14$14
Pat Burrell (’03) $9.5$13$14
Ken Griffey, Jr. (’00) $12.5$12.5$12.5
Manny Ramirez (’01) $19$18$20
Todd Helton (’03) $16.6$16.6$16.6
Mike Sweeney (’03) $11*$11*N/A
Ivan Rodriguez (’04) $11$11$13
Maglio Ordonez (’05) $15$12$15

All figures in millions
* Raised to $12.5 million if traded
** Club Option
***Club Option that automatically vests with 450 PA in the previous year

These players can be divided into any number of categories, like the vastly overpaid (Ordonez, Kendall, Helton, Burrell), the $20 million “I’m rich, beyotch!” club (A-Rod, Jete, Manny, Giambi) and the “Damn, how are they making more than Vlad this year?!” club (Ordonez, Helton, Delgado, Chipper, Berkman, Bagwell). But what we’re looking for now is to take the players who fall into the “similar deal, similar player” category with Matsui. This will consist of corner outfielders making from $11 million to $15 million per season. The candidates: Maglio, Sheffield, Burrell, Ichiro!, Vlad, and Berkman (I know he plays first, but he has played the outfield plenty).

For analysis, I’m going to take the basic averages (BA/OBP/SLG), walks, doubles, homers, and OPS for the two years leading up to the contract and then the first year of the new deal. If, however, an aberration occurs in the year after the contract year (an injury, one of those pesky “off years”), I’ll take the following year as an example. So let’s start with the years leading up to Matsui’s new deal.

Hideki MatsuiPA Avg OBP SLG BB 2B HR OPS
2004680 .298.390.522883431.912
And now for the rest of the crowd.

Maglio OrdonezPA Avg OBP SLGBB 2B HR OPS

Gary SheffieldPA Avg OBP SLGBB 2B HR OPS


Yep, ’03 didn’t make the Phils feel better about that contract. Not that 2004 did, either, but at least 2005 was a rebound year.


I feel bat nit-picking Ichiro!’s contract, since he brings more to the table than his numbers indicate. Kinda like Jeter.

Vladimir GuerreroPA Avg OBP SLGBB 2B HR OPS

Lance BerkmanPA Avg OBP SLGBB 2B HR OPS

As far as numbers leading up to each player’s big cash in, Matsui looks in the middle of the pack. As far as getting what they deserve, Matsui probably deserves (as ambiguous as that term is) his contract more than Maglio, Burrell, and from a sheer numbers perspective, Ichiro. The top of the list – Sheff, Vlad, Berkman – all topped a 1.000 OPS leading up to the deal, a feat Matsui has yet to accomplish.

So it looks like Hideki falls right in the middle of that pack, which is fine, just fine. When you factor in current market conditions, the deal more than makes sense. Why let Hideki get away when there’s no guarantee that there will be an adequate replacement? Sure, Giles is on the market, but the Yanks are one of about 20 teams interested in him.

It also helps that this deal isn’t backloaded. Hideki’s $13 million may not look all that inflated come 2008 or 2009. He certainly outplayed his initial deal, so another way of looking at the situation is that part of this $52 million is compensation for the previous few years. Additionally, the revenue he brings in from the Japanese market will help subsidize the deal as well.

So considering past performance, additional revenue from another market, comparable salaries, the market, and the fact that these are the friggin’ Yankees, this deal makes plenty of sense. That’s one free agent down, a few more to go – Ryan and Giles priority, followed by Farnsworth and Scott Eyre (more on him tomorrow).

On a parting note, kudos to Arn Tellem for using the deadline as leverage to sneak an extra $2 million in at the 11th hour. Kinda like the Diamondbacks plucked Halsey from us.