Rockies showing the right approach to young players

Pay no attention to the Brad Wilkerson rumors
Game Thread: NFC Championship Game

On Saturday, I looked at Robinson Cano‘s arbitration case and decided that the Yanks should give him what he wants instead of bickering over money year after year. Today, David Pinto shares with us the news that the Rockies have locked up Troy Tulowitzki to a six-year, $30-million deal, thus buying out his arbitration years. Tulo probably would be making more if he chose arbitration every year, but the two sides believed this to be a better path. That seems to me to be a much better approach to signing long players than the Yanks’ one-and-out philosophy.

Pay no attention to the Brad Wilkerson rumors
Game Thread: NFC Championship Game
  • Ryan

    While from a fan perspective I agree with you, I think it is much more financially appropriate to go through the arbitration process. That process protects the team from the risks of a young player, namely injury or skill regression. That is to say that if the Yankees bring Cano along every year by arbitration, they have the opportunity to bail if something goes south during any of those seasons. If you lock a kid up to a long term deal, you’re stuck with that contract. Granted, Tulo will likely live up to that contract, but we’ve only seen one season out of him. What if he breaks his leg in ST next year? What happens if the league figures him out and he’s hitting .260 with little power? Would you want to be giving that money to a bigger version of John McDonald?

    Again, it’s mostly academic because the players will make their money one way or another. I just can’t blame the Yanks from protecting their assets by utilizing the arbitration process.

  • Mike A.

    Locking you players up like this is a great strategy for teams like the Indians, Rockies, Royals, Twins, etc. Teams that have to watch their money. Tulo’s been in the league for a year. A year! The Rocks are taking some kind of risk, considering they’ll need all the money they can pull together to keep Holliday, Francis and Atkins in the next few years.

    The Yanks will happily pay Cano the $8-10M per if he develops into a .340-35-120 monster next year, but this way they don’t have to worry about being locked into another 5-6 years if he messes up his shoulder or something and ends up being the next Alex Cora.

    I think the concept of Cano being insulted by the Yanks arb offer is being overblown. These guys know the process and understand what goes into it.

  • adam

    i wish the yankees just signed tulo to a 6 year $30MM deal.

  • Sciorsci

    Brilliant! Tulo will reach free agency at age 29 – right in the middle of his prime! What are the odds the Rockies will be able to afford him then?

    I think teams should put a little bit of thought into when particular deals get guys to free agency, rather than worrying about the milestones of arbitration and buying out a year or two of free agency. With the Rockies, they’d have been better off enjoying the benefits of Tulo’s inexpensive pre-arbitration years and saving the dollars earned during the bargain years so that they can afford a contract in a year or two that will take Tulo through his age 31 or 32 season, which will be the end of his prime.

    For the most part, penny-pinching teams don’t have the luxury of approaching players as personalities that can define their franchise; they need to get the most productive seasons out of their assets and then replace them at fractional cost down the line. I think this deal forces the Rockies to prematurely overpay Tulowitzki, only to be forced to overpay him again into past-prime seasons if they decide to keep him after this contract expires. Ideally, small-market teams should try to work contracts around age 32 for position players (maybe a bit older for pitchers), since that seems to be a fair rule of thumb for the point where prime becomes decline.

    Teams like the Yankees can afford to overpay for past-prime seasons based on prior performance. In fact, even with the economic benefits that A-Rod’s new deal will give the Yankees, much of that is based on “marquee” value rather than “performance” value. The same goes for Derek Jeter – we’re nearing the point where the idea of DJ being a $19+M player annually will be in the past. So what? The Yankees will keep Jeter until his retirement at any price. Need proof? Look at Posada’s contract. In 2010 or 2011, the Yankees will be paying $13+M for a .265, 20HR, 80RBI (to be kind) DH. Good investment? It is if you want to see Posada retire as a Yankee and money is of very little significance.

    This is not, nor will it ever be, the case for teams like the Rockies. Almost invariably, they’ll have to say goodbye to their star players, whether by means of FA or trade. I don’t know if Tulo got any sort of no-trade provisions, so maybe he becomes a huge trading chip in four or five seasons as this contract is nearing is completion. There’s almost no way the Rox will be able to afford to pay Tulo at age 29 and even if they do, it will quickly become a bad value for them. So one of two things happens: they either sacrifice good age 30 & 31 seasons because they did this deal too early, or they over pay for age 32-35 seasons in order to buy the rest of Tulo’s prime. Ultimately, either way, I just don’t understand the urgency to get this deal done now, when they could have stockpiled money during Tulo’s bargain years instead and still avoided arbitration by getting a deal done at an incrementally higher price in a couple of years.

  • Samples

    It makes total business sense to wait as long as possible to hand out long term, big money contracts. Mike A is right and the majority of players know they have to wait their turn. I have never heard of the player wanting to leave the yankees over a grudge from not getting a long term deal earlier. When they prove they can hang in the league for 6 years with star production, they get the big contract.

  • Rich

    The Yankees would rather pay less now and more later because they don’t want their payroll to be higher than it already is this year, and also because their payroll will be proportionally lower in the next few years as contracts like Giambi’s, Pavano’s, etc. come off the books.