Monday, August 22, 2011

Jered Weaver: Contract Analysis

The California Los Angeles Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim locked up their ace, Jered Weaver, for 5 years and $85 million over the weekend.


Jered Weaver flys a bit under the radar, but he's one of the top pitchers in the league.

Since he debuted in 2006, Weaver is tied for tenth in the league in ERA with Roy Oswalt (minimum 700 IP).  ERA isn't a great way to judge a pitcher though.  But, Weaver stacks up no matter the metric:
Innings Pitched - 20th
Strikeouts - 15th
Strikeout Percentage - 18th
Strikeouts per Nine Innings - 20th
Walk Percentage - 23rd
Walks per Nine Innings - 21st
WHIP - 7th
FIP - 17th
tERA - 9th
SIERA - 26th
Wins! - 10th
Runs Saved - 9th
Wins Above Replacement - 8th

Using FIP-, Weaver has been 16% better than the average pitcher over the course of his career.

He's been ever better the last two seasons.  FIP-has him over 25% better than a league average pitcher in 2010 and 2011.

A look at Weaver's FIP, tERA and WAR numbers shows his ascent.
2006 3.90, 3.68, 2.6
2007 4.06, 3.76, 3.1
2008 3.90, 4.12, 3.4
2009 4.04, 3.96, 3.9
2010 3.06, 2.79, 5.9
2011 2.84, 2.78, 5.2

Weaver has jumped into the stratosphere of major league pitchers.  Since 2010 Weaver is:  10th in FIP, 3rd in tERA, and 4th in WAR


So, what's he worth?

I've looked at a few other new contracts (Clay Buchholz, Jamie Garcia, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Braun). Using the same parameters, I come up with the following chart:

I expect Weaver to be worth approximately $135 million over the course of the contract.  He's getting paid $85 million so the Angels are coming up $50 million in the roses.

There are a couple of other things to consider though.  First, the $85 million is guaranteed.  Weaver could (insert random accident, injury or other debilitation here) in the next 5 seconds and never pitcher again.  In that case the Angels would be getting zilch for their money.  This is the reason that players rarely get paid their full market value for multiple-year contracts.  The team is assuming most of the risk. Weaver's only risk is that he pitches even better than expected and is leaving money on the table.

The other thing to consider is the market.

Two recent contracts for similar starting pitchers were Justin Verlander (5 years $80 million) and Felix Hernandez (5 years, 78 million).  Weaver's deal looks pretty much in line with those.  Verlander signed his deal two years ago, and with an extra year of team control left.  Hernandez signed his the same time as Verlander, and with the same service time, but at the age of 24 instead of 27.  That should allow Seattle to pay for his increase years instead of a few of his decline years.

Taking that into consideration, Hernandez' deal looks amazing for the Mariners.  The Verlander and Weaver deals are coming to be what we expect for these types of pitchers.

If you're still young enough, go out and learn a curveball.

*Cot's Baseball Contracts

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