Saturday, December 13, 2008

Redding and the Value of a $2-3 Million Pitcher

Last night, the Nationals walked away from Tim Redding, who earned $1 million last year and probably would have been due something like maybe $2 million in arbitration (Sheinen and the Denver Post is saying as much as $3 million, but that seems high to me). I've posted now three times in 24 hours disagreeing with this move, but I promise I'll drop it after this one.

Redding last year tied for the team lead in innings pitched with 182 and posted a respectable ERA of 4.95, while the NL average ERA for starting pitchers was 4.41. Next year, Bill James projects 168 innings at 5.01, while Marcels sees 159 innings at 4.61.

To drive home the point of what a value Redding is for that money, I thought it would be interesting to look at Redding versus the typical $2 million starting pitcher in free agency. Over the last two off seasons, there have been 8 pitchers who signed one-year contracts of $1.5-3.5 million. Here's what they did in the years after signing those deals:

Shawn Chacon (85 IP, 5.04 ERA)
Matt Clement (0 IP)
Mark Hendrickson (133.2 IP, 5.45)

Tony Armas (8.1 IP, 7.58)
Wade Miller (13.2 IP, 10.54)
Tomo Ohka (56 IP, 5.79)
Steve Trachsel (158 IP, 4.90)
David Wells (157.1 IP, 5.43)

So I think it's fair to say that it's darn near impossible to do better than Tim Redding in free agency for the money he would have cost. Why this team thought it wasn't worth tendering him a contract and locking him into one of our starting five now is beyond me.

And in case you're hoping they re-sign him and save a few pennies by avoiding arbitration, don't count on it. The Rox are already getting ready to make an offer.


Will said...

a 4.95 ERA is respectable?

Steven said...


John O'Connor said...

Why would JimBo do this, you ask? Because JimBo is congenitally determined to run out of starting pitchers every single year. He talks about pitchers, but his heart is with toolsy outfielders.

Ronald said...

You aren't drawing the only possible conclusion from the above pitchers may stand to reason that the performance they represent simply isn't worth 1.5 to 3.5 m. It's a replacement level argument...why pay a player $2m plus for replacement level performance when back of the rotation starters is exactly what the club has developed in the minor leagues up to this point. Perhaps the alternative here is not Tim Redding v. Free Agents and is instead Tim Redding v. In House Options...

Marcels (granted, run on a limited sample):

Colin Balester: 100 IP, 4.64 ERA
Shairon Martis: 60 IP, 4.36 ERA

Combined Cost: $800,000

Steven said...

@Ron--you make a good point, which I should have addressed. But implicit in my post is that I don't believe we have in-house options that will give us even the minimally adequate veteran stability we got from Redding. I think that Marcels projection on Martis is a good example of the limitations of the Marcels system. Barring a major improvement in command, Martis doesn't belong withing 100 miles of a major league rotation. Balester is needed regardless of whether Redding is here.

Looking at in-house options, your rotation is: Lannan, Mock, Balester, Bergmann, and Olsen. Zimmermann may be in the mix at some point, and I'm intrigued by this guy J.D. Martin, but other than Lannan none of these guys project to have as much value as Redding in terms of innings and ERA.

We may make a trade, but short of that our options for upgrades is free agency. That's why I think this is a valid way to look at it.