Data On Locking Up Young Pitchers

With the help of Cot's Baseball Contracts and other sources, MLBTR has compiled data on 66 contracts given to young pitchers over the past ten years.  The criteria for the list was that at least one arbitration season was bought out in the pitcher's multiyear contract.  Over $1.4 billion has been committed to these pitchers.  Data to consider:

  • Locking up young pitchers has never been more popular.  11 contracts have been signed so far in 2010, more than any other year.  The trend seems to have taken off in 2005, after which point 7-9 young pitcher contracts were signed each year.
  • Will we ever see a deal for a pitcher that covers a player's first season, like Evan Longoria's?  It hasn't happened yet, but 11 pitchers have signed deals that included their second year of service time.  James Shields took more of his money upfront than most, in that he earned $1MM in his second year of service time and $1.5MM in his third.  Most players, going year to year, earn $500K or less before reaching arbitration.
  • Tim Lincecum, of course, will earn the most in a season that would've been his first arbitration year – $8MM.  Next is Cole Hamels at $4.35MM.  Typically the first arbitration season goes for about $3MM (in recent years).  The second arbitration year is typically around $6MM, the third about $8.5MM.  To buy out a young pitcher's arbitration years, the cost is usually in the $13-17MM range.
  • 47 of the contracts bought out the first free agent season; 20 of those are club options.  At $20MM, Justin Verlander will be paid the most for his first free agent season.  At $80MM, Verlander's total contract value is also the highest.  Aside from Verlander and Felix Hernandez, most pitchers gave up their first free agent at a $7-14MM price.
  • Six pitchers gave the club options on multiple seasons.  Brett Anderson, Ian Snell, Adam Wainwright, and Ubaldo Jimenez allowed two club options, while Shields and Fausto Carmona gave three.
  • Older data may be missing, but the Diamondbacks appear to lead with six young pitcher deals (two for Brandon Webb).  The A's are next at five.  As far as we can tell, the Braves, Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, and Orioles have zero.

Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this research.


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28 Comments on "Data On Locking Up Young Pitchers"


Rich_in_NJ
5 years 4 months ago

Since talented young starters are the scarcest of baseball commodities, it makes perfect economic sense, and it has the accompanying effect of forcing even large revenue teams to try to grow their own since fewer good starting pitchers will be available in free agency during their peak years.

vtadave
5 years 4 months ago

Love to see this taken a step further. What is the overall conclusion? Good idea or not so much?

When is the optimal year for locking these guys up, balancing both risk and reward?

TimotheusATL
5 years 4 months ago

I can’t think of a single person in Atlanta who wouldn’t like to see Jurrjens and Hanson locked up. I also can’t think of a single person in Atlanta who has faith in Mcguirk and Liberty Media to do it.

swishasnkush
5 years 4 months ago

oh wow, Ian Snell. ha

lefty58
5 years 4 months ago

The Central could finally be a fun division with the Indians, Tigers and Twins loaded with young talent, they all could be really good for a number of years the way things are shaping up if they handle things properly.
I hope they all do, it’ll be great for baseball.

bjsguess
5 years 4 months ago

I loved it when the Angels locked up Ervin Santana before the start of the 09 season.

As I watched him play in 09 I hated that the Angels had locked up Ervin Santana.

I’m not sure, after 3 starts in 10 that locking up Santana was a smart move.

The point is, people tend to highlight all of the success stories (Sizemore, Longoria) and forget the meh or terrible moves (AZ Chris Young). There are lots of teams who regret committing so much money to young kids who either fail to progress or get injured.

bjsguess
5 years 4 months ago

I loved it when the Angels locked up Ervin Santana before the start of the 09 season.

As I watched him play in 09 I hated that the Angels had locked up Ervin Santana.

I’m not sure, after 3 starts in 10 that locking up Santana was a smart move.

The point is, people tend to highlight all of the success stories (Sizemore, Longoria) and forget the meh or terrible moves (AZ Chris Young). There are lots of teams who regret committing so much money to young kids who either fail to progress or get injured.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

What a shame, the Dodgers have zero long term pitcher deals.. hopefully that changes soon

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

This from a guy who compares Kershaw and Bilingsley to Koufax and Drysdale, and stated that steroids are good for baseball. I think the dodgers need to get some pitchers worth locking up. perhaps a contract extension to Randy Wolf.LOL

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

Im not even gonna say anything on the Drysdale/Koufax to Billz/Kershaw comment, because I explained it 15 times to you, and you are simply too stubborn to admit you are wrong. Hey, whatever.

If you think the Dodgers have no pitchers that are worth locking up, then you must be living in North Korea where you get no news. In case you havent noticed, they have lead the league in ERA and FIP for back to back years. But let me guess, it was luck that Broxton turned into one of the best closers in the game and that Kershaw posted a 2.79 ERA with an FIP to boot, right?

I honestly think you must have something against the Dodgers. Hey, whatever. You can dislike whatever you want to, but dont let your personal feelings about a team or organization affect how you think of the players.

For example, your words: “for dodger fans maybe finding a new vendor for the putrid overpriced half raw limp hanging dodger dogs which can only be consumed with a gob of brown mustard, and smothered in raw onions and relish to kill off the horsemeat taste. It is bad enough to charge $6.00 to 8.00 for one, could you at least sell a quality product.” Now, dodger dogs cost only 4.50, but its ok.

The best part is this. You rip the Dodger young players, especially the pitchers, and yet your only comment when Rich Aurilia retired was “Solid ballplayer”. Bias much?

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

Let me know when they win a few Cy Youngs, pitch 4 no hitters, lead the league in ERA or strikeouts or win a few championships, or win twenty games. The season is early so we can give every team in baseball the benefit of the doubt. After 162 games a team is what it is no excuses. The boys in blue are in for a long hot summer.I am a dodger fan and since you like to paste and add my comments I am not sure why you would defend Dodger dogs. I have been to over 15 major league parks and they are the most putrid hot dog I have ever tasted, The fans consume them because it is a tradition to eat a dodger dog at the stadium.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

Let me know how many pitchers win a few Cy Youngs, pitch 4 no-nos, lead the league in Ks and ERA, win a few titles or win 20 games at age 25… or ever. Lincecum? Thats about it, and he only qualifies for a couple of them. Tell me how many have a career 3.53 ERA after 4 seasons at age 25 or have the best H/9 ratio in the league at age 22? Not many…

And the Dodger dog… they are far from putrid…

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

Those are a few of the things koufax and drysdale achieved. As far as lincecum the dodgers passed on him for Kershaw. It probably cost them at least one world series title.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

Yea, I know. Im just saying they didnt do those before age 25, or 22 for that matter.

And everyone knows we passed on Lincecum. But I disagree it cost us a WS title. For one, no way to say he develops the way he did. If nothing else, his best pitch, his changeup, is one that the Dodgers dont teach. Also, Lincecum seems destined for arm troubles, similar to Koufax’s, because he has been used a LOT over the last couple of years. More than likely, he will go down to an arm injury at some point because of overuse early in his career. Finally, you have no idea on how Lincecum would handle the pressure of the postseason because he has never been there. Simply put, no way you could say passing on him cost us a title

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

He has won two Cy Youngs, of course he can handle pressure. He will turn out to be the best pitcher of his generation, and the Dodgers passed on him. Pretty nice game today only eleven earned runs allowed in 8 innings.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

I love how much you assume, when its good for you. You assume a guy who is a great regular season pitcher will succeed in the postseason. How did Lee or CC do their first postseason? They struggled. Yet you won’t assume a 22 year old will improve…

And your comments are making me lose more and more respect for you as a poster. You try to make a sarcastic point to prove how bad our pitching is, but you decide to not to actually look up how many ERs they gave up… It was 8 genius

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

You attack every one of my postings like a straving pitbull.You can not be that obsessed with the dodgers I really do not want to respond to you anymore. Put your canine teeth back into your mouth and quit responding to me like a lunitic. Some of the things you say make me think you are on drugs. Oh yeah I forgot you said you liked the steroid era “It is good for baseball”

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

wow, are you serious? Every one of these arguments we have had has started from me making a comment, and you replying with a snide one. I then respond with common sense and stats, and you go all ape-shit on me.

You seem to have a very strong talent for taking what someone says, misunderstanding what is stated, but refusing to accept the explanation of whoever wrote the comment. Like the steroid era. I said that if it didnt happen, baseball most likely would not be followed with any of the popularity it has today. Most stopped following the game with the same passion, and the Bonds/Sosa/McGwire HR derby brought a lot of fans back. So, yea, it probably saved the game. Isnt that good? Or did you want baseball to be followed like soccer is in the US?

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

Yea, I know. Im just saying they didnt do those before age 25, or 22 for that matter.

And everyone knows we passed on Lincecum. But I disagree it cost us a WS title. For one, no way to say he develops the way he did. If nothing else, his best pitch, his changeup, is one that the Dodgers dont teach. Also, Lincecum seems destined for arm troubles, similar to Koufax’s, because he has been used a LOT over the last couple of years. More than likely, he will go down to an arm injury at some point because of overuse early in his career. Finally, you have no idea on how Lincecum would handle the pressure of the postseason because he has never been there. Simply put, no way you could say passing on him cost us a title

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

Those are a few of the things koufax and drysdale achieved. As far as lincecum the dodgers passed on him for Kershaw. It probably cost them at least one world series title.

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

Let me know when they win a few Cy Youngs, pitch 4 no hitters, lead the league in ERA or strikeouts or win a few championships, or win twenty games. The season is early so we can give every team in baseball the benefit of the doubt. After 162 games a team is what it is no excuses. The boys in blue are in for a long hot summer.I am a dodger fan and since you like to paste and add my comments I am not sure why you would defend Dodger dogs. I have been to over 15 major league parks and they are the most putrid hot dog I have ever tasted, The fans consume them because it is a tradition to eat a dodger dog at the stadium.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

Im not even gonna say anything on the Drysdale/Koufax to Billz/Kershaw comment, because I explained it 15 times to you, and you are simply too stubborn to admit you are wrong. Hey, whatever.

If you think the Dodgers have no pitchers that are worth locking up, then you must be living in North Korea where you get no news. In case you havent noticed, they have lead the league in ERA and FIP for back to back years. But let me guess, it was luck that Broxton turned into one of the best closers in the game and that Kershaw posted a 2.79 ERA with an FIP to boot, right?

I honestly think you must have something against the Dodgers. Hey, whatever. You can dislike whatever you want to, but dont let your personal feelings about a team or organization affect how you think of the players.

For example, your words: “for dodger fans maybe finding a new vendor for the putrid overpriced half raw limp hanging dodger dogs which can only be consumed with a gob of brown mustard, and smothered in raw onions and relish to kill off the horsemeat taste. It is bad enough to charge $6.00 to 8.00 for one, could you at least sell a quality product.” Now, dodger dogs cost only 4.50, but its ok.

The best part is this. You rip the Dodger young players, especially the pitchers, and yet your only comment when Rich Aurilia retired was “Solid ballplayer”. Bias much?

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

This from a guy who compares Kershaw and Bilingsley to Koufax and Drysdale, and stated that steroids are good for baseball. I think the dodgers need to get some pitchers worth locking up. perhaps a contract extension to Randy Wolf.LOL

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

What a shame, the Dodgers have zero long term pitcher deals.. hopefully that changes soon

AndreyBaileyFanClub
5 years 4 months ago

Its good that the A’s locked up their Ace in the making, but if i’m the A’s, i want to sign him even more long term. True, they bought out one year of Anderson’s free agency, but after that he may very well follow the paths of Hudson, Mulder, Zito etc. Why not give him 10 years 65 million. Thats 30 million more for Anderson, and 4 more years for the A’s. Sure, theres risk, but if Brett Anderson stays healthy he is a bona-fide Ace.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

no way they commit 10 years to a pitcher, or that he only takes 6.5M. He isnt stupid.. he knows he is leaving money on the table. After this deal, he is going to be looking for a contract like CC’s, especially if he continues to grow into an ace

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 4 months ago

no way they commit 10 years to a pitcher, or that he only takes 6.5M. He isnt stupid.. he knows he is leaving money on the table. After this deal, he is going to be looking for a contract like CC’s, especially if he continues to grow into an ace

AndreyBaileyFanClub
5 years 4 months ago

Its good that the A’s locked up their Ace in the making, but if i’m the A’s, i want to sign him even more long term. True, they bought out one year of Anderson’s free agency, but after that he may very well follow the paths of Hudson, Mulder, Zito etc. Why not give him 10 years 65 million. Thats 30 million more for Anderson, and 4 more years for the A’s. Sure, theres risk, but if Brett Anderson stays healthy he is a bona-fide Ace.