This year’s free agent market has already provided a steady trickle of deals, with many involving short-term arrangements for starting pitching. Bigger contracts are yet to come, but those already handed out have committed fairly large sums, albeit on limited terms.
With many of these deals landing in a similar range, it’s interesting to compare. Here are the rotation pieces, who happen all to be right-handers, who have received major league pacts thus far (from smallest to largest in terms of total dollars):
Jesse Chavez, Angels, $5.75MM over one year (plus incentives): Chavez worked exclusively in a relief capacity last year, but he started quite a bit in 2014 and 2015 and Los Angeles views him as a part of their rotation for 2017. For a team in need of sturdy innings, the 33-year-old brings the promise of durability and palatable results at a reasonable price.
R.A. Dickey, Braves, $8MM over one year (plus 2018 club option): A similar calculus was at play with Dickey, whose knuckleball makes him a solid bet to eat up a lot of frames despite the fact that he’s already 42 years old. Though he’ll cost a bit more than Chavez, Dickey also arguably comes with greater upside, and the organization was able to take advantage of Atlanta’s proximity to the righty’s Nashville home to land him at a budget-friendly amount.
Andrew Cashner, Rangers, $10MM over one year: There’s much more variability, perhaps, baked into the price paid for Cashner, who only just turned 30 and still has a power arsenal at his disposal. The results haven’t been there in either of the last two years, and health questions persist, but Cashner is only two years removed from a high-quality campaign in which he looked like a top-of-the-rotation arm.
Bartolo Colon, Braves, $12.5MM over one year: Atlanta doubled down on aging starters, following up the Dickey signing with the even-older Colon, who’ll turn 44 before the season begins. If he was 15 years younger, Colon’s four-year platform — over which he averaged 195 frames of 3.59 ERA pitching — might well have made him the biggest earner on this winter’s market. Instead, it garnered him a strong payday but only a single-season commitment.
Charlie Morton, Astros, $14MM over two years: The only starter to score a multi-year promise, Morton only made four starts in 2016 — though that was due to a hamstring injury, not a more worrisome arm problem. He did show a fair bit of promise early last year (including a velocity bump), and carries a 3.96 ERA with strong groundball results (58.2%) over his last five campaigns, but Morton has only twice topped 25 starts and 150 innings in a single season.
Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies, $17.2MM over one year (accepted qualifying offer): Most had Hellickson penciled in to reject the QO and pursue a rather sizable, reasonably lengthy contract on the open market. After all, he’s yet to turn 30 and just turned in 189 frames of 3.71 ERA pitching. Instead, he opted for the sure thing, and the Phillies will pay a rather hefty single-season rate a pitcher who had endured his fair share of struggles prior to his quality 2016 season.
All of the teams listed above were looking to fill a rotation spot without mucking up their future balance sheets, and sought some blend of upside and dependability. So, the question for the MLBTR readership is a straightforward one: which of these contracts provides the best value to the signing organization?
If Colon can repeat last year that would help Atlanta a lot. He could be pretty solid.
I see Dickey & Colon being the best investments. They can both eat innings and if they’re doing OK later this year, the Braves can use both to trade to contenders for prospects. Naturally, if Atlanta were to contend, they would be bargains.
28 people voted for Chavez?? Must be the angel fans.
I’m an Angels fan and I didn’t vote for it. I think it’s just miss clicks
I was hoping the angels would go after Hellickson, even though we had a protected first round pick
Hellickson took the QO from Philly.
I think it’s Dickey. His floor is a dependable innings eater (same as Colon) at only $8m. Plus the move from the hitter friendly Rogers Centre may serve him well. His ERA was significantly better on the road last yr though I didn’t look up any of his peripheral stats.
I feel like Cashner’s deal isn’t the bet value signing, looking at it right now but if he gets back to the past few years in San Diego it easily will be the best value signing
In terms of value, it has to be Hellickson. He could net the Phillies a decent prospect or two at the deadline or net them a draft pick in 2018 if the new CBA keeps FA compensation in place. The money is a bit steep, but the Phillies have basically an endless supply of it at this point.
Either him or Big sexy fersure.
The hellickson deal is brutal. He has zero trade value at $17 mil; you are delusional if you think they can get anything for him at the deadline. The Phillies thought hellickson would reject with a weak FA pitching market but the risky QO bit them in the butt.
And now they have an innings eater who can help mentor the kids. There’s no such thing as a bad 1 year contract so they can eat hellickson this year if they have to
While I don’t think Hellickson’s contract is bad by any means (I actually think it’s a good deal overall), but the idea that “there’s no such thing as a bad 1 year contract” is horribly inaccurate. There have been many and will continue to be bad one year deals in the game. Bad one year deals obviously aren’t as bad as bad multi year deals, but just because it’s only one year doesn’t give it a free pass on being bad. If you overpay for a player and they have an awful season then it’s a bad deal. If there was no such thing as a bad one year deal teams would throw them around without care. More options would be picked up. Heck teams are often so compelled to not have players for one year, they pay to buy them out of their options because they view it as a bad deal.
Phillies can easily eat cash to facilitate a deal if need be. If Hellickson maintains the same level of pitching in 2017 as he did in 2016, he easily has more trade value than everyone on this list.
Can we get a link to the poll for the app?
Ok im not the only one lol.
Who knows how to stop those videos that pop up on bottom right side of screen ?
Yeah this site is losing control with the ads…
It’s a free site. But it’s definitely not free to keep online. Unless you want to pay for the content you have to accept and deal with the ads.
I think it’s fairly easily colon-dickey 1-2. There both cheap rotation gaps who could excel against the weak lineups of the nl east. They can easily be flipped even if they pitch just as back of the rotation pitchers
Situationally- I like the dickey deal-
Value-wise- I like Hellickson
Where’s the poll link??
The poll only shows up in the website, not that app
Forgot to add a link. I’ll do so.
Wouldn’t be surprised if RA Dickey has a great season. I mean, he pitched in the AL East! Easy to have a high ERA in that Division. I could totally see a 3.10-3.40 ERA
Big sexy any day over these bums
Being the “best sign” out of that lot isn’t anything to be proud of. I don’t particularly like any of those deals, giving $10M+ to 40+ year olds shouldn’t be seen as a “good” thing imo, and I love watching Bart and RA. The rest are just low ceiling guys. Would rather hold off on these polls until most FA SPs are signed.
I think the bottom tier SPs got scooped up since most don’t require 2 years or a lot of money per. As the offseason continues, either SPs could find themselves sacrificing years or annual salary while some clubs could be forced to add a fourth year for a #4 starter.
Back to this list, Texas, Houston and Atlanta did great in the early going with these low-risk, moderate upside signings.
No brainier here….it’s Hellickson taking the QO. He’ll try to parlay this into a bigger deal this time next year.
It didn’t ask which was the best deal for the players. It asked which was the best value for the teams.
I wonder if any analysis has been conducted yet on Atlanta’s new park and how it might play in terms of favoring hitters or pitchers. I can’t find the dimensions anywhere, and obviously we won’t know for sure until games start happening. But it might go a long way toward determining how valuable Colon and Dickey will be. Or perhaps the Braves know the park is going to favor fly-ball pitchers?
Charlie Morton will end up looking like a steal for the Astros, metrics say he should be way better than his ERA suggests and he doesn’t have the HR problems like other xFIP top performers like Brandon McCarthy.