Over the past five days or so, many teams have been focused on locking up their players with little service time, in hopes that they would buy out their pre-arbitration and arbitration seasons, while also gaining control of some of their free agent years.
Rick Porcello, Josh Harrison, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Yordano Ventura were recently extended by their respective teams. Here are my thoughts on each deal.
The Red Sox overpaid Rick Porcello
Since 2007, there have been 52 years of contract extensions given out to 14 starting pitchers between five and six years of MLB service time, worth $826.1 million. That's an average of a 3.7 year deal for $15.89 million per year, which would buy out two free agent years. Porcello got a four-year, $82.5 million deal from the Red Sox, which would come out to a $20.625 million annual average value. Porcello is not worth $20.625 million per season. If he made that figure this year, he would be the 23rd-highest paid player in the Majors, ahead of Adam Wainwright, Jon Lester, David Price, and Max Scherzer. I rest my case.
Josh Harrison still hasn't proved himself...though that doesn't mean that deal with Pirates is spoiled
The Pirates signed Harrison to a four-year, $27.3 million deal. Harrison still hasn't proved to me that he can be a viable option in the lineup at the same level as he did in 2014. Regardless, this doesn't mean that he signed a bad deal. If and only if Harrison hits well again does this deal become a real steal for Pittsburgh. Harrison makes at most $10.25 million before becoming a free agent barring options. If he continued to play at the same level he did last season, he would easily make more than that as a third-year arbitration player. It all depends on how he continues to play.
Corey Kluber's deal is fantastic for both sides
Corey Kluber had pitched in 15 career big league games coming into the 2013 season, boasting a 5.35 ERA. Coming into that 2013 season, Kluber was a 27-year-old, practically career minor leaguer, pitcher with not many expectations. Since, he has captured an AL Cy Young award and has established himself amongst the best in the business. I personally like Kluber's deal for both sides, due to the fact that it is only guaranteed $38.5 million, but with escalators can go to $77 million. It's great security for him, especially since he's only had a good couple of years (even though he appears here to stay dominant), but could also be a very good deal compensation-wise, especially if the escalators are met. This deal is good for Cleveland as well; they're locking up one of the best pitchers in baseball for years to come.
The Indians took a calculated risk with Carlos Carrasco
Like his rotation counterpart, Carrasco is a late-bloomer, not really taking shape as a solid pitcher until the last 10 starts of last season. Granted, he went 5-3 with a 1.30 ERA and a 78 to 11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 69 2/3 innings. Carrasco's career has had a ton of ups and downs, including a designation for assignment in 2013. With a four-year, $22 million pact, obviously the Indians hope that Carrasco is the one that looked brilliant at the end of last year. If he does continue his successes, this deal will be considered a huge win for them. If he doesn't, the Indians will just have to eat the cash, which never exceeds $8 million per season. Carrasco's deal only buys out his arbitration years with options to control his free agent years. It's a good sum for a pitcher who had a career 5.29 ERA coming into 2015, but could also be a good deal for a team looking to stay in contention for many years to come.
Yordano Ventura's deal is an absolute steal for the Royals
The Kansas City Royals locked up one of the best young pitchers in baseball for all of his pre-arbitration and arbitration years, none for an overly extravagant price. With his new five-year, $23 million pact, Ventura makes just $9.95 million as a projected third-year arbitration player, when he could continue to make much more than that if he continues to improve. Ventura will make a guaranteed figure just over what Carlos Carrasco made. I'm sure most of you would agree; I'd rather have Ventura on my squad than Carrasco. (If I could only have one, of course.) Sure, Ventura gets some security if 2014 somehow is a fluke, but overall this looks like a huge win for Kansas City.