It's a quiet night on the transactional front, and it's been a while since we've had a poll. So, here goes:
This extension season has included three pretty sizeable contracts to young infielders, each of which features fairly similar terms. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs compared two of those players/deals earlier today (Jason Kipnis and Matt Carpenter), but we'll add a third in Andrelton Simmons to make things interesting.
We'll tick through some of the positives and (relative) negatives of each player below. The question is simple: which of these contract is likely to deliver the best value for the player's team?
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians: 6 years, $52.5MM. $16.5MM club option. (2.075 years of MLB service.) Kipnis is not the youngest guy — just turned 27 — but he's put up one good and one very good year in his first two full-time runs at the MLB level. He brings pop and speed to the table. Look at his lines: .257/.335/.379 12 HR, 31 SB (2012); .284/.366/.452 17 HR, 30 SB (2013). What's not to like? If we're quibbling, strikeout rate rose and is slightly above league-average, and he benefited from a .345 BABIP. Perhaps more importantly, the converted outfielder has (for the second time in three years of MLB time) posted a solidly negative UZR rating; in fact, he was last in the league among full-time second baggers last year. Though DRS saw things more positively, the new Inside Edge fielding ratings put him at second-to-last among regulars at the keystone.
Matt Carpenter, 2B/3B, Cardinals: 6 years, $52MM. $18.5MM club option. (2.012 years of MLB service.) Carpenter, 28, had a huge year in his first as a big league regular. Solid defense and a 143 OPS+ is quite a combination, especially when you can do that at second, third, or even the corner outfield. (What is good for your fantasy roster is also good for the Cards.) That all sounds good, but re-read that first sentence. Carpenter did not even reach Triple-A until 2011, which leads to questions about both repeatability and (moreso, perhaps) longevity. And Carpenter has been a slightly below average defender on balance, which could be something to watch given the perception that he is not terribly athletic (relatively speaking, of course).
Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves: 7 years, $58MM. (1.125 years of MLB service.) The 24-year-old Simmons appears likely to have immense defensive value for the foreseeable future, and he has enough pop to dream of upside on top of that floor. If he can improve his on-base capabilities, Simmons could cement himself as one of, if not the, best shortstops in the game over the entire life of this deal. But what if he doesn't? And what if his solid power numbers and huge defensive metrics come back to earth somewhat? Simmons was one year behind the other two players in terms of service when he inked his deal, so it covers one less free agent season.