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 Post subject: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 12:28 pm 
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I think the answer is "yes." Starling Marte can play all three outfield positions well, he has a great arm, he has speed and growing power, he's showing better patience at the plate, and he's been improving his ability to hit breaking balls. The kid's a player. The PBC has an opportunity to lock him up to a team-friendly deal now that grabs a few of his free agent years. The team has the leverage. Use it.

Here's a take on the issue from Trib's Bucco Blog:

http://blog.triblive.com/bucco-blog/201 ... yesterday/

SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – On Monday the Cubs locked up their young, talented first baseman Anthony Rizzo to a seven-year, $41 million deal, a contract that includes a couple club options. While it’s life-changing money for a 23-year-old, it’s probably going to be a mega bargain for the Cubs.

In the early 1990s, then Cleveland GM John Hart began the trend of signing core young players to long-term contracts, buying out arbitration years and in some cases several years of free agency. It was smart business for the small-market Indians, allowing the Tribe to keep their core together through the mid 90s.

Most recently Tampa Bay has been the most aggressive in locking up young talent, most famously signing Evan Longoria to a six-year $17.5 million deal six days after he was called up in 2008. In total the deal will be worth $44 million over nine years, as it included three club options which were incorporated into his recent 10-year contract extension.

It’s widely regarded as the most club-friendly deal in modern history.

Consider that one win above replacement is worth approximately $5 million in value to a club.

Now consider that through 5.2 seasons, Longoria has produced 31.7 WAR. That’s $158 million in value. The club has paid him $15 million.

Advantage: Andrew Friedman.

Now, the baseball compensation scale is rigged against young players, who often work their first three years for near the game’s minimum wage before becoming arbitration eligible. It’s six years of serfdom. So Longoria was going to be value to Tampa Bay regardless if agree to the deal ed or not. But by buying out Longoria’s arbitration years and three years of free agency the Rays did save tens of millions of dollars and prevented him from testing the free-agency waters.

A number of other young players have signed such extensions in recent years – like the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen, Atlanta’s Justin Upton, the Reds’ Jay Bruce – but the Longoria was the most aggressive such deal because it came so early in his career.

The Rays took on more risk because Longoria has played all of five Major League games, but clubs also have more negotiating leverage the further players are from arbitration and free agency.

So that takes us back to the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela …

Starling Marte might already be the Pirates’ most valuable asset (this subject will be coming to a blog near you in the near future) when considering present talent, projection and contract/service time.

He has already produced $10 million in value this season, having a 2.0 WAR as of May 14. He has the potential t produce tens of millions worth of value over the course of the next five+years.

Now most clubs, like the Pirates, prefer to hedge their bets with young players. McCutchen had 2 1/2 years of service time when he signed his 6-year, $51 million extension prior to last season. It was similar to the Justin Upton and Bruce deals. But by hedging bets, the player gains leverage.

With Marte I think the risk would be worthwhile to lock him into a long term deal … yesterday.

Sometimes these deals do not work because of injury (See: Grady Sizemore) or regression. But often they are great values for clubs, which is so critical for small market clubs. And even if such a deal is a bust, it’s a relatively small risk when considering veteran free agents are singing for $25 million per season.

Even if Marte was just a three-win player for the remainder of his pre-free agency club control, which is conservative, he’d still be worth $90 million to the club over his first six years of service, a figure that doesn’t include inflation. If the Pirates do not buyout his arbitration years they could be looking at 10+ million arbitration prices.

Over at BucsDugout.com, Charlie Wilmoth asserted the closest comp to Marte would be Denard Span, who signed a five-year $19 million deal in 2010. Span was a year closer to free agency than Marte. I’d guess the Marte camp would feel his value is closer to that of the Cubs’ Starlin Castro, who signed an eight-year, $60 million deal two full years into his big league career. Still, it bought out four years of free agency and will likely be another mega-bargain for the Cubs.

I asked Pirates GM Neal Huntington if the club has reached out to Marte, but Huntington declined to answer.

If the Pirates gave Marte an eight-year, $60 million deal tomorrow it would still likely be a bargain for the club. A conservative estimate would have Marte producing double that value to the club, $120 million.

Yes, there’ some risk. But he’s not a pitcher. He’s young, athletic, talented and improving (see: improvement against breaking balls). It’s not my money. Maybe Marte would not be interested, but I think the smart money is with small-market clubs being more aggressive in signing pre-arbitration talents. I’m surprised it’s not done more often.

This quote is posted in the Rays’ locker room: “Fortune favors the bold.” It is especially true with locking in prices for small-market clubs.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 12:29 pm 
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Here's another take from Tim Williams over at Pirates Prospects:

http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05 ... .html?wt=2

On Saturday I wrote about how the Pittsburgh Pirates should extend Starling Marte, giving a price guide for a potential deal. Last night the Chicago Cubs extended first baseman Anthony Rizzo on a seven year, $41 M deal with two option years.

Coming into the season Rizzo had 0.168 years of service time. He had six years of control remaining, including 2013, and would have been a Super Two player after the 2014 season. That’s comparable to Marte, with the difference being Marte won’t be a Super Two player. The Rizzo extension covers all of his cost controlled years, plus one free agent year. It also gains control of two more free agent years with two $14.5 M club options. According to Ken Rosenthal, the total value of the deal could be nine years and $68 M if both options are exercised, and the package could go to $73 M if escalators are reached.

By comparison, I suggested the Pirates should extend Marte to a five year, $34 M deal. I wasn’t including the 2014 season in that extension, so you could say a six year, $34.5 M deal. The Cubs re-worked Rizzo’s 2013 salary, and if the Pirates took the same approach you’d be looking at the same seven year deal, with Marte being guaranteed north of $35 M (he’d probably get a signing bonus and a higher salary in his 2013-2014 seasons).

Rizzo got two $14.5 M options, which is what I was suggesting for Marte. That was based off Paul Goldschmidt, who also received a $14.5 M option for one of his free agent years. The total value of my Marte proposal would be nine years and $60 M, which is a few million shy of Rizzo’s total value. Marte should be slightly below Rizzo, since Rizzo has the Super Two benefit. I’d say he should get a few million more, probably in the form of a signing bonus and higher salaries in 2013 and 2014.

Rizzo’s deal is definitely a good guide, and is similar to the deal Goldschmidt signed (which I used as the guide for Marte). If the Pirates made a similar deal this year, I think it would look like 7 years, $38 M, and the two $14.5 M option years, which would buy out control of three of Marte’s free agent years. If the Pirates waited until after the 2013 season the price probably wouldn’t change much, although they’d be looking at a six year deal, since they wouldn’t be changing the 2013 salary.

The Cubs have a slight advantage in that Rizzo has 608 at-bats, while Marte has 313 at-bats. Both players look to be breaking out this year, so they’re in similar situations from a value standpoint. I felt the Pirates should extend Marte a few days ago, and nothing has changed on that front. The Rizzo deal just makes the Goldschmidt price guide look much stronger for a Marte deal.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 1:06 pm 
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We made the effort to sign Tabata long-term based off of little success, Marte looks a lot more impressive than he did. I say go for it.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 1:14 pm 
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It's probably a little early in his career to say this is a no brainer, but well, to me it's a no brainer. We knew he had the skills, but weren't sure if he could utilize them. I think he is showing that his plate discipline(which will never be great) is getting better, and the rest has been well above expectations. Blazing speed, great arm, power...he's got it all. And on top of that he has become a fan favorite with his big smile and style of play. That is just icing on the cake. Again, pretty close to a no brainer...


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 1:18 pm 
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I think it would be very wise to do so.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 1:25 pm 
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This would give the Pirates two cornerstone players in Cutch and Marte. They'd only need a lefty power hitter to step up and become the third amigo. Hmmm. Any ideas on who that could be?

Oh yeah! The Pirates are going to draft Colin Moran in the 2013 Rule IV Draft.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 1:29 pm 
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No.

Not until you see at least a full year of him. No need to right now. I don't care what the Cubs do.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 1:57 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
No.

Not until you see at least a full year of him. No need to right now. I don't care what the Cubs do.

ZM


Risk/reward, my friend. Locking him up now, when the team has the leverage, means he comes cheaper. See, e.g., Evan Longoria.

That's a good thing for the Pirates.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 2:07 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
ZelieMike wrote:
No.

Not until you see at least a full year of him. No need to right now. I don't care what the Cubs do.

ZM


Risk/reward, my friend. Locking him up now, when the team has the leverage, means he comes cheaper. See, e.g., Evan Longoria.

That's a good thing for the Pirates.

Yeah, but could we not do the same next year? Lower risk and all...

Seems to me that the lesson of Moneyball was that for a small market team, locking up the wrong player could mean death.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 2:17 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
Risk/reward, my friend. Locking him up now, when the team has the leverage, means he comes cheaper. See, e.g., Evan Longoria.

That's a good thing for the Pirates.


Is my mind playing tricks on me or weren't you the poster who was incredibly critical of the Pirates for signing Tabata to a "cheap" extension and calling them out for being unfair to Tabata? Isn't that what you are essentially advocating here? Rushing to get Marte signed for cheapest price possible? Maybe my memory is failing . . .

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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 2:29 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
J_C_Steel wrote:
Risk/reward, my friend. Locking him up now, when the team has the leverage, means he comes cheaper. See, e.g., Evan Longoria.

That's a good thing for the Pirates.


Is my mind playing tricks on me or weren't you the poster who was incredibly critical of the Pirates for signing Tabata to a "cheap" extension and calling them out for being unfair to Tabata? Isn't that what you are essentially advocating here? Rushing to get Marte signed for cheapest price possible? Maybe my memory is failing . . .


I said it was great for the team, and I thought Tabata was dumb to do it. I don't recall saying that the contract was "unfair." It was negotiated between professionals.

And Marte will not come nearly as cheap as Tabata. Hence the Rizzo and Goldschmidt comparisons. The point is that signing Marte this early would actually serve both parties well: (1) Marte gets a signing bonus and salary increases that he wouldn't receive if he simply continued year-to-year, giving him security, and (2) the Pirates get to lock up a very good young player for a long time, including 2-3 free agent years. Everyone can win.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 2:50 pm 
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val wrote:
Yeah, but could we not do the same next year? Lower risk and all...

Seems to me that the lesson of Moneyball was that for a small market team, locking up the wrong player could mean death.


This.

They have several years to sign up Marte, and they won't be "using" up their position until at least year 4. Marte looks like the real deal to me, but you still have to consider that he was considered only an "average" player by scouts all along. Right now he is hitting like Vlad or Manny. I'd like to 1) continue this for a while, or 2) continue to develop good plate discipline before I write out a few millions.

I say this even if you offer a Tabata-type contract.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 2:58 pm 
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The longer you wait, if the performance increases, the price goes up.... 8-) 8-) 8-)


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 3:22 pm 
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The answer to this question comes from the scouting department. That is, "Is Starling Marte as talented as his production so far suggests? How talented is he, and how much will he produce over the next 6 seasons?"

If the answers are "yes" and "very, and a lot" then signing him makes sense.

Nice to have these questions about young Pirates hitters, by the way.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 4:55 pm 
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I'm convinced Marte is for real. I doubt that he can hit .320 for the long haul, but I also see his power increasing over the next few years.

I'd be fine with a long-term contract but don't see any urgency since he is so far away from free agency.

I'm more concerned with the other postions. There is still not enough offense, the rotation is not quite there yet, and the bench is still weak.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 5:52 pm 
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I think it may make a whole lot of sense after the season. The following are the stats for two successful MLers in their 24 year old season

.284/.325/.442 with 19 HR and 2.5 WAR (Fangraphs)
.259/.364/.456 with 23 HR and 5.4 WAR.

Those players, Adam Jones and McCutchen. If Marte can fall somewhere close to those stats at the end of the season, an extension is surely in order.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 8:53 pm 
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Yes.

Any risk of regression and/or injury is practically offset by the risk of letting him continue to produce and therefore gain (more) new-contract leverage.

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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 10:21 pm 
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Screw Marte. This is the prime time to lock up Alvarez before he gets good.

Lock up Marte. He's already good. No brainer.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 8:40 am 
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Screw Marte. This is the prime time to lock up Alvarez before he gets good.


lol I agree. He's going to be the one they really regret losing if they don't lock him up. Pedro is a late bloomer, but he's going to be awesome when it's all together.


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 Post subject: Re: Should the Pirates Sign Marte to a Long-Term Deal?
PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 11:55 am 
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[Lock up Marte. He's already good. No brainer.[/quote]


Marte is already locked up. Too soon to offer long term contract.

If he continues at his current level of play the price will go up; but better to be sure he is what he seems to be. Human nature being what it is, I would rather let Marte continue to strive for his big payday.


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