Thursday, March 27, 2014

George Springer vs. Starling Marte

We discussed this on the Astros Boxes podcast last night (which should go up at some point in the next 24 hours), but I felt like it was worth a separate post.

The Pirates extended 25-year old left fielder Starling Marte with a 6yr/$31m contract yesterday. This will give the Pirates control over Marte through his Age 31 season with an average annual value of $5.17m, and he wouldn't have been a free agent until 2018.

In 2011 at Double-A, Marte played in 129 games (572 PAs), hit .332/.370/.500 with a 17.5% K-rate and a 3.8% BB-rate. In 2012, Marte played in 99 games at Triple-A (431 PAs), hitting .286/.347/.500 with a 21.1% K-rate/4.4% BB-rate. You know where I'm going with this, right?

George Springer - as you are all well aware and likely tired of by now - turned down a reported 7yr/$31m deal last September. At Double-A in 2013 Springer hit .297/.399/.579 (with a 29.7% K-Rate and a 13% BB-rate) and followed that up by hitting .311/.425/.626 in 266 PAs at Triple-A with a 24.4% K-rate and a 15.4% BB-rate.

To be fair, Springer has a better minor-league track record than Marte. He hits for better average and power than Marte, and he certainly walks a lot more than Marte. And Marte's AAV will be about $1.5m more than what the Astros offered Springer.

But Marte has something Springer doesn't have: 748 PAs of 117 OPS+ offense at the Major League level. In 135 games last season (566 PAs) Marte hit .280/.343/.441, walking 25 times, but stealing 41 bases in addition to ten triples (and 26 doubles and 12 homers). Marte is a solid defensive player with some pop and speed who doesn't walk, and strikes out a decent amount of the time (138 times in 566 PAs). Perhaps that sounds familiar.

That could be George Springer. Springer has 266 PAs above Double-A and the Astros were willing to give him $23m. I'm not criticizing Springer for not taking the deal - betting on himself may pay off big. I'm not criticizing the Astros for offering the deal - if Springer had taken it, then the Astros would have looked like geniuses. I'm simply pointing out that the offer was in the ballpark of a contract agreement between the Pirates and what may be a similar player to George Springer.