Bedard And The Budget
Took a little longer than usual, but Ken Rosenthal came through with the details of the incentives in Erik Bedard’s contract today. Here’s the nitty gritty, mostly per Rosenthal.
$1.25M base salary, guaranteed. $250,000 buyout if M’s decline their half of $8M mutual option for 2011. If Bedard declines his half of the option, he forfeits the buyout. This adds up to the $1.5M in guarantees that the M’s were reported to have agreed to last week.
Starts: $500,000 each for 14, 17, 20, 23, and 26 games started
Innings: $500,000 for 75 innings, $600,000 each for 100, 125, 150, 175, and 200 innings
Days: $250,000 each 65, 90, 120, and 150 days on the active roster
Okay, let’s add all this up, based on our best guess as to what Bedard may do this year. We’ll ignore April, since no one thinks he’ll be back for the first month of the season.
From May 1st to October 3rd, the last day of the regular season, there are 156 days. So, Bedard would have to be activated from the DL no later than May 6th, and spend the entire rest of the season on the active roster, to collect the 150 day bonus. That seems remarkably unlikely, so we’ll cross that one off too. The bonuses up to 120 days are at least kind of possible.
The Mariners will play 139 regular season games from May to October. If the team stayed with a strict five man rotation, and Bedard made every a start every 5th game from May 1st to the end of the season, he’d make 27 starts. Let’s go ahead and cross of that 26 start bonus as well. He’s not getting that one. The 23 start level is close enough to borderline that I’ll leave it as theoretically possible for now, though it would require a May return and no missed starts the rest of the year.
Innings wise – Even in a best case scenario where we’re giving Bedard 23 starts, he’s not going to average more than 6 IP/start coming off labrum surgery. That puts him at, best case, 138 innings. Cross off the 150/175/200 innings incentives. He’s not making those. The 125 line is probably even too questionable, but like the 23 start one, it’s borderline enough to get left in as an extreme long shot.
Where does that leave us? Well, if he returns around June 1st, averages 5 to 6 innings per start, and avoids any extended DL stints the rest of the year, that would put him in line for $1.5M for making 20 starts, $1.1M for pitching 100 innings, and $750,000 for being on the active roster for 120 days. $1.5 + $1.5 + $1.1 + $750K = $4.85 million in 2010 payouts. For ~100 innings of Erik Bedard.
Is that a massive steal? No. He’d need to be worth about +1.4 wins to justify the contract, based on the going rate of wins in the market this winter. That’s about his 2008 performance level; good, not great. His 2009 performance level was significantly better, and would represent a good value for the team, though I don’t think you can count on getting that from Bedard again, given the surgery.
So, that’s probably your best case plausible scenario – he gives the M’s three months of good pitching and earns just shy of $5 million for his efforts. In reality, there’s probably going to be a setback or two, and he’ll probably fall short of the 20 start/100 IP/120 days on active roster incentives, which would put the team on the hook for ~$3.5 million. And, of course, there’s always the worst case scenario, where he doesn’t pitch at all and the M’s give him $1.5 million and get nothing in return.
I would say, given the time table for Bedard’s return, this incentive structure is fair. If he’s healthy and pitches at 80 percent of his pre-surgery abilities, he’ll earn his paycheck. This probably won’t turn out to be a huge bargain for the M’s, as he gets rewarded pretty handsomely for taking the mound, so there’s not too many scenarios where he pitches great and the M’s only pay him a fraction of what he’s worth. Perhaps the most likely of those scenarios would be a delayed return, where he joins the team in July and then pitches well down the stretch, helping the team in August and September but not racking up enough time to trigger many of the incentives.
But, given the low guarantee and the way the payouts don’t begin to kick in until after start #14, it’s a good deal for the team. There’s very little on the line. Worst case scenario, they’re out less than $2 million. Best case scenario, they get a quality arm for a little less than the market rate, and then Bedard has opportunity to really pay off in October.
How the team is going to account for this contract in the budget is really anyone’s guess. They can’t just budget the $1.5M and then have to scramble if he pitches well and earns $5M instead, so I’d guess that they’re slotting him in for somewhere in that $4 to $5 million range. Given the rumbles about how close they were to their budget ceiling before signing Bedard, it’s tough to see them spending any more significant money.
One thing is for sure, though – this is a hell of a lot better deal for the M’s than the Ben Sheets contract was for the A’s.