Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Defending the Scott Feldman Deal

I really can't understand the hate for the Scott Feldman deal. Scott Feldman signed a 3 year contract for 30 million dollars. Many believe this was a horrible mistake. Jayson Stark's Executive Survey listed Feldman's deal as the 2nd worst of the offseason. The other's on the list were all mega long terms contracts. Buster Olney tweeted (I believe) that other execs were complaining because the Feldman deal was skewing the market price for starting pitchers.

None of this makes any sense to me at all. Let's take a look at the other big FA pitcher signings (Non-Tanaka division), to see where the Feldman deal stacks up.

Jason Vargas was one of the first starting pitchers to sign. He signed a 4 year contract 32 million dollar contract. Vargas and Feldman are very similar pitchers. They are around the same age, and while Vargas has outperformed Feldman in ERA the last couple years, Feldman leads in FIP. Overall, I'd say Feldman has been a tick better. While his yearly salary is slightly more, the overall contract is worth less. I'd prefer Feldman for 30 over 3 to Vargas for 32 over 4, personally.

Phil Hughes' 3 year contract was for 2 million less per year than Feldman's, which makes sense, because Feldman has been significantly better than Hughes. Hughes only real advantage is age.

A couple of pitchers signed two year deals for similar annual value as Feldman. Bartolo Colon signed a 2 year 20 million dollar deal. Colon has clearly been a better pitcher than Feldman over the last couple years. He is also 40. Feldman is a bit safer. Bronson Arroyo's 2 year contract was worth 23 million, with a 11 million option for his 3rd year. Arroyo is older, and by FIP has not been as good as Feldman over the last 3 years. Scott Kazmir parlayed his comeback into a 2 year 22 million dollar contract. However, for as good as a story as Kazmir was, he still wound up with a higher ERA than Feldman, and of course pitched his way out of baseball in 2011. Hence the comeback and good story. Tim Hudson signed a very similar deal to Kazmir. He is going to be 38 this year, and has not been that much better than Feldman over the last couple years. Lincecum signed a 2 year, 35 million dollar contract, which was based on what he used rather than what he is. You could make the argument that Feldman is a safer option than all four of these pitchers.

The next group up, Ricky Nolasco, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jiminez all signed for close to 4 years, 50 million dollars, around 12 million dollars a year. Jiminez also came with the loss of a draft pick. Those three are perceived as having more value than Feldman, and they all probably do. But Garza really struggled in his transition to the AL last year, Nolasco has never pitched in the AL and Jiminez's ERA over the last three years is actually higher than Feldman's (4.45 to 4.32). Jiminez essentially parlayed 20 good start to end 2013 into a large contract. Feldman has had recent success in the AL, and has been significantly more consistent (especially based on FIP) than Jiminez.

Feldman was not a bargain, but I think its clear he was not an overpay. The going rate for a reliable starter was 8-12 million dollars from 2-4 years. Feldman was not the best of the bunch, but was hardly the worst. Thus, his 3 year 30 million was right in the middle.

That being the case, why all the hate?