The Jose Fernandez Contract Offer and the Starting Pitching Market


I remember saying to myself and the other writers here on Marlin Maniac that the Marlins should realistically give Jose FernandezJulio Teheran money” or the “Julio Teheran deal.”   Julio Teheran is just one of a cohort of young, talented, team controlled starting pitchers that have gotten nearly the same kind of deal from their respective teams. The Braves and Teheran reached  a 6 year, $32.4 million contract.

Other pitchers besides Teheran who have gotten largely team friendly deals that buy out the majority of their arbitration years include Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner and Gio Gonzalez among others.  Sale’s deal was for 5 years  and $32.5 million, Bumgarner’s was for 6 years and $35.7.

The trend is to give players what seems like a good deal while all it actually does is avoid the headache of arbitration. These players who were still under team control and functionally far away from their free agency years allowed teams to offer what amounted to “team friendly” deals because all they actually guaranteed was that the team would not have to go to arbitration with the player year after year until he became a free agent.

Fernandez will not be the only player who we expect to be offered a deal like this. Other bright young starters like Yordano Ventura, Sonny Gray, Gerrit Cole and Alex Cobb should be locked up to deals like Sale’s and Teheran’s.  Hitting is at a premium at a momemnt but what allows for it is the seeming abundance of young, talented starters as the table below shows.

[table id=72 /]

The fact that deals like Sale’s or Teheran’s are so team friendly is even starker when one thinks about the size of contracts that starting pitchers garner in the open market or even as they approach it.  Case in point Clayton Kershaw who signed for who 7 years and $215 million or Cole Hamels who agreed to a 6 year $144 million deal with the Phillies.

Jose Fernandez only has one year of service time under his belt, 224 Major League innings pitched in his career and has just had Tommy John surgery. He may be a Scott Boras client, but baseball economics says that his reported 6 year, $40 million dollar deal is perfectly in line with pitchers who have about as much experience as he does. Starting pitchers under 25 years of age who have pitched the past 3 years.   Besides Fernandez, both Henderson Alvarez featured in the top 25 in WAR among these players and Jarred Cosart is forty-second.

It is obvious that Kershaw is the best player in this particular selection, and his contract reflects it, but until Fernandez can replicate his 2013 especially after returning from Tommy John surgery; I find hard to justify giving him any more than the Julio Teheran style contract.

Baseball currently functions as a nearly perfect market, wherein supply and demand is actually the most important thing.  Front offices, sabermetricians and other students of the game have come to a conclusion that at the moment there are few commodities more valuable in this game than young, cost controlled pitching. The Marlins currently have a huge surplus in that department with Fernandez as clearly the best, a second tier that consists of Alvarez, Cosart and Nathan Eovaldi and then all of the prospects ranging from Andrew Heaney to Justin Nicolino. Of the players with substantial Major League service time. Alvarez is the most likely target for an extension which should also be in the 5 year, $30 million range.

It is imperative for teams like the Marlins to not compete in the same market as the Dodgers and the Yankees and the way to guarantee that is by signing players to good deals when they are still under team control.

Next: Reports: Marlins Offer Jose Fernandez Contract Extension