What A Segura Extension Might Look Like | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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With pitchers and catchers now in the house in Maryvale, we have officially begun that period of spring training where nothing much happens for a while, other than beat writers (who we love) talking about how boring pitchers’ fielding practice is.  This is also the time when teams start talking to young players about locking them into long-term contracts. So really, this was pretty much inevitable.

The Milwaukee Brewers are expected to discuss a long-term contract extension with shortstop Jean Segura during spring training, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The team made him an offer during spring training last season, but the two sides “haven’t really” had discussions about a deal since the end of last season.

As Chris Cotillo notes, this isn’t the fist time we’ve heard about the Brewers showing interest in extending Segura, so it’s hard to say exactly how likely it is that any sort of extension gets done. On one hand, Segura had something of a breakout season in 2013 that would surely necessitate the Brewers upping significantly any offer they may have made or even just contemplated making last year. On the other, Segura did struggle mightily in the second half of the season, and, though many suspect that it was due to fatigue, how much are the Brewers going to be willing to bet on that being the case?

When trying to figure out what sort of contract extension might work for both team and player, it’s generally a good idea to start with comparable deals and work from there. Looking at shortstops who have signed extensions before reaching free agency over the last few years, we see something of a mixed bag. The Nationals’ Ian Desmond just got a two year, 17.5 million dollar deal to buy out his last two team controlled seasons. In April of 2012, both the Angels’ Erick Aybar (four years/$35 million) and the Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera (two/$16.5) gave up at least one free agent year to guarantee some good money towards the end of their arbitration years. Going back to February of that year, Elvis Andrus of the Rangers got all three of his arbitration years bought out for a total of $14.4 million, though he later inked a mega deal that made that look like peanuts.

That’s all well and good, but none of those contracts are really on-point.  Segura is still five full seasons from reaching free agency, which gives the team more leverage over negotiations. There really are only two shortstop deals since Hanley Ramirez signed in 2008 that are really relevant: the Cubs Starlin Castro and the Royals Alcides Escobar. Both players had put in 2+ full seasons when they signed their deals, Escobar was one full season from hitting arbitration for the first time, and Castro was just a little over a month from becoming “super 2″ arbitration eligible. Here’s what those deals looked like year-t0-year:

Year

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Total

Escobar

1.0

3.0

3.0

3.0

5.25*

6.5*

x

x

10.5

Castro

5.0

5.0

6.0

7.0

9.0

10.0

11.0

16.0*

60

*=club option

Castro also got a six million dollar signing bonus and both players had buyouts for their club option years, Castro for one million and Escobar for 500k.

Escobar’s deal essentially bought out his remaining club control years for a guaranteed 10 million dollars, and then the team got two quite reasonable options for free agent years one and two. Castro’s four remaining club control years were bought out for a total of 23 million, 29 if we include all of the signing bonus in that figure. His first three free agent years were purchased for nine, ten and then eleven million dollars, and the club got a 16 million dollar option for free agent year number four.

Here is how Segura currently stacks up with the numbers those two produced before their respective deals:

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

oWAR

dWAR

Escobar

1288

.252

294

.339

9

2.2

3.2

Castro

1912

.296

.334

.421

25

8.9^

1.2^

Segura

789

.287

.326

.403

12

3.9

1.2

^= WAR numbers for his entire career up through the end of 2012

In terms of production, Segura is clearly closer to Castro before 2013 than he is to Escobar before 2012. His slash stats are a little less impressive, but he’s also providing more defensive value per game than Castro, at least according to Baseball Reference’s metrics. The main thing the Brewers have going for them in terms of negotiating power is that, while Castro was mere months away from his first big payday, Segura still needs to put in two full seasons before he can head to arbitration for the first time. This is likely to be the issue the sides really have to haggle over.

Segura’s agent will undoubtedly be looking for something closer to the Castro deal than the Escobar deal in terms of annual payouts relative to service time. His player may not have the track record that Castro had in terms of length of service, but he’s projecting in the right direction. He’s also already shown the willingness to walk away from contract talks, so he’s clearly no sucker. The Brewers are, understandably, going to go into any negotiation mindful of the fact that Segura has to keep proving himself to cash in. Players do get hurt and regress all the time, after all.

Ultimately, it may end up being difficult to come to a mutually agreeable deal for both sides unless one (or both) of the two following things happens: Either Segura’s agent is going to have to decide that the risk of waiting two more years for non-minimum money is too great, or the Brewers are going to have to decide that the real Segura is much more like the one who dominated early in 2013 than the one who slipped in the second half. If something does get done, my best guess is that it ends up somewhere in the neighborhood of a five year deal for a guaranteed 25 million with some option years. It could look something like this:

Bonus

Arby -2

Arby -1

Arby 1

Arby 2

Arby 3

FA 1

FA 2

Total

4

1

1.5

4

5.5

7

8*

10*

24.5

*= Club option years with a 1.5 million dollar buyout for each year

That might seem closer to Escobar’s deal than Castro’s, but remember that Castro was already dealing from the position of heading into arbitration so he had no “low cost” years left and Segura has two. Jean gets a little bit less year-by-year in arby than Castro got, which makes sense after we subtract a bit for the difference in track record up to the point Castro made his deal. The big trick is going to be getting those club option years in free agency instead of having to guarantee big money in those seasons 5+ years in advance. If the team feels truly confident about Segura, then maybe they just guarantee those years, but that is an awfully big risk to take.

Whether this happens or not, it’s important to remember that Segura is under the Brewers’ control for five more years even if they don’t extend him. This is mostly about trying to get some cost certainty and hopefully give them some option years to play with at the end. If both sides come to the table ready to deal, something can probably be worked out, but it’s going to take some serious haggling to get to that point.

H/T to Alec Dopp for some help with the numbers

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. gryphon99 says: February 17, 2014

    Pitchers fielding practice would include Matt Garza fielding bunts, right? Are you not entertained? Or at least slightly terrified?

  2. Ryan Topp says: February 17, 2014

    I should add:

    I feel pretty good about the framework for the first 5 years, give or take a few million total. The tricky part is dealing with potential free agent years. In the original post, I sort of guessed at the idea of a couple club options, the second one a little bit more than the first one.

    After thinking it over a bit, it’s probably not very likely that they’ll get a couple options like that. Maybe they get an option for FA year 1 at like 10 million, or they guarantee like 9 for FA 1 and then do an 11 or 12 million dollar option for FA year 2.

    I doubt the Brewers do any deal that doesn’t include at least an option for a free agent year, because then they’re just taking on risk with fairly limited upside. Maybe they get super creative and come up with something I’m not thinking of, but I do think I was probably being overly optimistic about that double option. That’s Andrew Friedman stuff, and it’s hard to get unless you’re willing to go super early for a guy.

  3. Philboyd says: February 18, 2014

    this business side of baseball is really boring to read about.

  4. nikdro says: February 20, 2014

    How do you think the deal for Simmons affects what an extension for Segura would look like? Similar service time, Simmons obviously has more value with his glove but less of a bat.

    • Ryan Topp says: February 20, 2014

      Yeah, been thinking about this. There are a couple of key differences that make Segura’s position a little less advantageous than Simmons.

      Simmons was almost certainly going to be “super 2″ eligible, and Segura wasn’t. That means he gets to arbitration a year earlier and gets 4 arby years instead of 3. He got paid like it, too. That’s a difference of a few million right there.

      The bigger thing, though, is the difference in performance. Simmons actually isn’t that far behind Segura when you look just at the bat. He has pop and alot of his AVG/OBP issues were tied to BABIP. Segura is a tad better, but not dramatically so. Defensively, though, Simmons is a generational talent. Scouts and stats agree that he’s the best defensive SS in the game, and it’s not all that close. Segura is fine for now, but not anywhere near Simmons.

      So adding it all up, I’ll stick with my numbers for the first 5 years, so something around 23 million over those 5 years, maybe a tad more. To get free agent years, though, they’re going to have to give up guaranteed 8 digits annually. If we’re looking at a 7 year deal, let’s say 11 and 12 for FA 1 and 2, which would bump the total value to something like 46 million.

      Of course, I’m not sure his agent would go for that, or that the Brewers are confident enough in him to do it, but if something does happen, that’s my best guess after seeing what Simmons got.

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