Bedard And The Budget

Dave · February 9, 2010 at 8:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.


29 Responses to “Bedard And The Budget”

  1. allenwu on February 9th, 2010 9:40 pm

    Regarding how the Ms are going to book this contract…

    I was wondering, what if they reserve 5~ish mil, then depending on how Bedard is doing by the trade deadline, make use of whatever Bedard doesn’t get paid at that time (either by being the target of a team’s salary dump, or signing a recovering free agent like Wang?)

    That is, unless the Ms are out of it by then, which would be a whole different topic.

    Oh btw, I’m new here. I’ve read a bit of the required readings, but if I make a newbie mistake, please feel free to bash (educate) me.

  2. Carson on February 9th, 2010 10:03 pm

    Thanks for doing the math.

  3. Alex on February 9th, 2010 10:06 pm

    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.

    Great point. I’d rather have Bedard and this contract than Harden or Sheets and their contracts.

    And it we make the playoffs and he is healthy, he is a strong #3 at a reasonable cost.

  4. wabbles on February 9th, 2010 10:28 pm

    Interesting. I guess the unknown here is how well is X number of innings goes. If he pitches 25-27 starts with 5-6 innings per start AND makes the opposing team look like Little Leaguers in the process, then the contract is a steal. If the opposing team looks like the 1927 Yankees during those innings, then…not so much. Hopefully we’ll meet somewhere north of the middle.

  5. DaveValleDrinkNight on February 9th, 2010 10:29 pm

    This is certainly a lot better signing than Sheets or Harden. I’m still surprised that Sheets got as much as he did.

    Stone has a quick round up of labrum injured pitchers in recent seasons and how they’ve done after the surgery. Pretty mixed bag of results really.

    Fingers crossed for Bedard.

  6. Dave on February 9th, 2010 10:46 pm

    If the other team looks like the 1927 Yankees when he pitches, he won’t make 25 starts.

    The only way he hits the incentives if he’s pitching reasonably well.

  7. Adam S on February 9th, 2010 11:05 pm

    Thanks for the analysis.

    Any idea why they have both starts and IP incentives since these correlate about .9? He’s going to average 5-6 innings per start. Heck, I’d venture a guess it’s between 5.2 and 5.6. Why not just pay him $1M for each of the IP thresholds?

  8. joser on February 9th, 2010 11:16 pm

    I assume playoff starts and innings count towards the totals used in the incentives — unless there are special incentives for those? (I didn’t bother looking for a link to Rosenthal’s article).

    Of course, I imagine the team would be quite happy to be paying Mr. Bedard some extra money to pitch for the M’s in the postseason. As problems go, that’s about the nicest one to have.

    I do worry that this sort of incentive structure just adds to the pressure to get back on the mound before he’s ready (I suspect the real pressure is just his desire to prove he’s back and to pull his weight on the team, but incentives are called that for a reason). I trust the team’s docs (plus Wak et al) will be calling the shots based on whether he looks ready, not based on the finances, but ultimately Bedard is the only guy who knows how that arm really feels, and he has at least some history of trying to force things a little bit.

    Any idea why they have both starts and IP incentives since these correlate about .9? He’s going to average 5-6 innings per start. Heck, I’d venture a guess it’s between 5.2 and 5.6. Why not just pay him $1M for each of the IP thresholds?

    Perhaps he (or his agent) is terrified some evil crafty blogger will suggest the M’s turn him into a reliever? (Nah, signing a starter and putting him in the bullpen — what kind of crazy person would suggest that?) Of course, if they did that, they’d skip all the start incentives and probably a good number of the IP incentives, so the team has a certain financial incentive to do just that….

  9. Dave on February 9th, 2010 11:20 pm

    Nothing in the post-season counts. Contracts only cover the regular season. Players are paid for their post-season work by splitting a big pool of money (depending on how far they advance) 25 ways.

  10. joser on February 9th, 2010 11:39 pm

    Nothing in the post-season counts. Contracts only cover the regular season. Players are paid for their post-season work by splitting a big pool of money (depending on how far they advance) 25 ways.

    Ah, ok. I didn’t realize that was still the case — although I knew there was still the postseason bonuses, I guess I assumed those were in addition to whatever might be in the contracts.

    Coincidentally, I just watched Game 6 of the 1977 WS last night — it’s a bonus on “The Bronx is Burning” (and about the only part really worth watching) which I rented from Scarecrow (along with “Spaceman”, about Bill Lee, and “Sugar“). The share for the WS winners that year, according to Howard Cosell, was $32K (the losers got $26K) — about one-tenth of what the 2009 Yankees received. There are all sorts of other interesting observations you can make from watching that game from the vantage of more than 30 years later, but I’ll leave them for another time.

  11. LanceWWU on February 9th, 2010 11:52 pm

    The only way that this signing will look like a huge bargain is if Bedard dominates during the stretch and during the postseason… Having Felix, Lee, and Bedard all at their peak during the postseason would make us a favorite to win nearly any series. That’s what really killed us during the 2001 postseason was having good starters but not dominate starters.

  12. MKT on February 10th, 2010 1:31 am

    “Sugar” is an excellent movie, shot almost like a documentary. Which brings up the one question that I have about it: it seems to ooze authenticity, and I suspect that it is a realistic portrayal of what minor league life is like for many Latin ballplayers. But is it indeed an accurate depiction?

    (In a similar vein, I enjoyed watching “The Hurt Locker” but in that movie a lot of the scenes looked like hyped-up Hollywood rather than true-to-life. “Sugar” seems very authentic but I have no first-hand knowledge to judge it by.)

  13. NorthofWrigleyField on February 10th, 2010 2:34 am

    Actually, I don’t think this gives him much more incentive to rush back then he already has. He’s still playing for a free-agent contract next year. If he rushes himself back before his arm is ready to get 20+ starts in, he won’t make the incentives AND he won’t get the payday as a free agent. That’s the beauty of having the incentives at every level. If he’s Ready in time to get 26 starts in, that’s great. But neither he nor the Mariners are going to rush him into 26 starts and risk him only making 10.

  14. Jack.Hartsock on February 10th, 2010 3:12 am

    That’s the beauty of having the incentives at every level. If he’s Ready in time to get 26 starts in, that’s great. But neither he nor the Mariners are going to rush him into 26 starts and risk him only making 10.

    Agreed. On the flip side, where’s Leroy Stanton when you need him? Haven’t seen his outlandish arguments as of late.

  15. Leroy Stanton on February 10th, 2010 4:55 am

    On the flip side, where’s Leroy Stanton when you need him? Haven’t seen his outlandish arguments as of late.

    Outlandish? Care to elaborate?

  16. et_blankenship on February 10th, 2010 10:38 am

    Any idea why they have both starts and IP incentives?

    I initially thought offering separate incentives for starts and innings pitched was a bit redundant, but perhaps the impetus behind the IP incentive is to motivate Bedard to pitch more efficiently. He averaged nearly 18 pitches per inning last season. By trimming that number down to 15, Bedard would essentially add 1 IP per start and cut down on some of those grueling, 20-minute innings that couldn’t have been beneficial to his health.

  17. robbbbbb on February 10th, 2010 10:58 am

    I know folks are worried about Bedard rushing back too soon, but he’s pitched pretty darned well even when he’s pitched hurt. As Dave noted, he had a 3.90 FIP last year with a torn labrum. That’s a damn fine pitcher.

    We can worry that he comes back before he’s built up endurance, or a host of other concerns, but I bet that if he’s on the mound he’ll be effective.

  18. joethewest on February 10th, 2010 12:15 pm

    I completely agree with you robbbbb.

    “though I don’t think you can count on getting that from Bedard again, given the surgery”

    Dave, I understand that it’s tough to come back from an injury, especially a torn labrum. But it really amazes me at how people think Bedard won’t return back to form. Bedard’s “form” has been absolutely consistent since 2006. The only difference is that in 08-09 he pitched THROUGH a torn labrum injury. .282 ERA and 10 K/9 through lingering injury. That is insane. I think we really need to be giving the guy the benefit of the doubt here.

    Bedard’s contract is not about this year. It’s about next year. It’s about him proving that he can pitch at a high level, coming back next year and getting his money, and absolutely owning the AL in 2011.

  19. diderot on February 10th, 2010 12:18 pm

    Is there any indication that this same sliding scale also applies to next year, assuming both sides accept the option?

    Also, is this type of structure unusual for free agent pitchers? If so, could this be something other teams will use as a benchmark for signing future free agent starters?

  20. et_blankenship on February 10th, 2010 12:34 pm

    Correction: I previously commented that it would be great if Bedard could trim his pitch per inning count down to around 15. I did some research.

    In 2009, only 4 pitchers who logged 100+ IP were below 15 P/IP (Pineiro, Carpenter, Halladay, Duke) and the average for this group was about 16.3. Bedard’s average P/IP during his gravy years was about 16.5 P/IP.

    In other words, anything near 15 for Bedard is unrealistic. Going from 18 to 16.5 would still be a major improvement, but spread out over a 100-pitch start, the difference is only about .5 of an inning.

  21. Pete Livengood on February 10th, 2010 1:03 pm

    diderot – I, too, like this kind of incentive structure, but I can’t see it becoming any sort of trend-setter. If the pitcher is any good and isn’t hurt, somebody will offer guaranteed money, and there is too much risk if you offer that kind of structure to a healthy pitcher that you will piss him off and he will (correctly) think the team is trying to pass most of the injury risk to the player.

  22. nathaniel dawson on February 10th, 2010 3:05 pm

    On the flip side, where’s Leroy Stanton when you need him? Haven’t seen his outlandish arguments as of late.

    Are what you consider to be outlandish arguments better than trolling?

  23. Evoxx on February 10th, 2010 3:48 pm

    Fair price for pitching is in itself a bargain because teams overpay for pitching, especially potential top of the order starters.

  24. Mariners2620 on February 10th, 2010 9:01 pm

    I think that Jack Z almost has to pull off one more trade for a Francisco Liriano or an Aaron Harang. At least a Washburn signing. I just can’t see this rotation starting the season. Too many question marks outside of Hernandez and Lee. If Smith’s arm gives out on him early on in the season, we have a Fister/Vargas/Olsen stepping in (which one of them will already be in the rotation as it currently stands. The defense will be fantastic, but the defense can only do so much. Snell is a huge question mark, and he might not even make the rotation. We have to do one more thing. I feel awful saying that, because Z has already done so much this off season for this team. However, we currently don’t have a formidable rotation.

  25. Ralph_Malph on February 11th, 2010 10:28 am

    Is a rotation headed by Felix, Lee, and RRS really that bad, even if 4 and 5 are question marks? If Lee and Felix are 6 WAR each and RRS is 2, that’s 14 from your top 3. Suppose Snell gives you 1.5 and #5 is replacement level. How many teams have a 15+ WAR rotation? And none of that even counts whatever Bedard gives you in the second half (and the playoffs).

    The Yankees’ rotation last year was CC (6 WAR), Pettitte (3.3), Burnette (3.1), Chamberlain (1.5), and a bunch of other guys at #5 who were barely above replacement level as starters (Wang, Mitre, Hughes, Gaudin, Aceves each in single digits for starts). I’ll take our rotation over that one, thank you very much.

    Looked at another way, the Yankees were 146 RAR from starting pitching. Felix and Lee were 145 RAR, and RRS was 15 RAR as a part-time starter. 4 and 5 don’t have to be very good for us to have a very good rotation.

    Sure, the Yankees may be an unfair comparison because their offense was awesome, but I don’t think anybody said their rotation was too weak to win a championship.

  26. Pete Livengood on February 11th, 2010 4:11 pm

    Ralph, I think that is a useful point if you are looking at pitching staffs in isolation, but as you say is an “unfair comparison” otherwise. Even if our rotation is likely to put up as many WAR as the 2009 Yankees, that doesn’t mean we should go out and expect to win 103 games, either.

    Here are the 2009 Yankees offense, by position/2009 WAR, and the 2010 Mariners by position/2009 WAR (where there is no 2009 WAR or a significantly changed role, I’ve used a 2010 projection, or failing that, a WAG):

    C Posada 4.0 Johnson/Moore/Bard 1.2
    1B Teixeira 5.1 Kotchman/Garko 1.8
    2B Cano 4.4 Lopez 2.6
    3B Rodriguez 4.4 Figgins 6.1
    SS Jeter 7.4 Wilson 1.9
    LF Damon 3.0 Byrnes/Lang/Saunders 2.5
    CF Cabrera 1.6 Guti 5.9
    RF Swisher 3.5 Ichiro 5.1
    DH Matsui 2.4 Bradley/Griffey 1.2

    Ignoring bench (which I’d expect will favor the Yankees too), the primary starting nine for the Yanks produced 35.8 WAR. That’s an offense that can overcome an average starting rotation. The Mariners – even with some potential double-counting issues and a couple of unlikely-to-be-repeated career years, come in at 28.3. The Mariners will have to have a better rotation to be comparable to the Yankees.

  27. Pete Livengood on February 11th, 2010 4:21 pm

    Put another way – the Yankees rotation looks good because they won a championship with it, but that championship was won on the backs of their offense much more than their pitching. Put the 2009 Yankees rotation with the 2010 Mariners offense, are they champions? Could they win the AL West? The AL East? The Wild Card? Maybe, but it sure looks a lot iffier.

  28. Ralph_Malph on February 11th, 2010 4:44 pm

    That’s certainly true, but you’re not going to have to win 103 games to win the West. In the playoffs, a rotation of Felix/Lee/Bedard would look awfully good — probably the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball, if Bedard is effective.

  29. Pete Livengood on February 11th, 2010 5:32 pm

    Agreed. Last year, the Mariners got 21 or so WAR from their position players, but also got ~16 from their pitching staff. I’m not sure if you included the bullpen in your 15 estimate or not (my sense is not – that was just the rotation). So, the estimate I cited above is an improvement of about seven wins, and including the bullpen to your earlier ~15 WAR estimate for the rotation, you have to think they get maybe a 2-win upgrade there.

    Now, I am pretty sure some of the numbers I used were too high. Figgins, Ichiro, and Gutierrez in particular are likely to see some regression, and the cumulative numbers at catcher and LF look a bit high to me. But I do think maybe a 2.5-3 win upgrade for position players is realistic, to go with maybe a 2-win upgrade for the pitching staff.

    Now, in this post, Dave explained how to use component WAR to estimate a third-order pythag of sorts. He explains that based on those 21 (pos players) + 16 (pitching) WAR last year, plus the 46 wins a team of replacement players would get you, the Mariners projected to a an 83-win team. He also says that you can basically say +/- 5 to that, based on luck (and the M’s got 85). If I’m right, the 2010 version should project to an 87-88 win team – which might not be enough to win the division. It is probably within that +/-5 that the division will be won or lost. If that 7-win upgrade among position players and 2 for the pitching staff actually holds up, then yeah, the M’s should win the division.

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