Thursday, 20 February 2014

Is Ian Desmond Worth $90 Million?

So it has been leaked that Ian Desmond may have been offered a deal at least in the vicinity of $90 million over seven years. That's an average annual value of $12.8 million. What should that buy a ball-club in today's market?

According to Dave Cameron at last November, the value of a projected Win Above Replacement (WAR) based on early contracts is around $6 million, so this seven-year contract is projecting Ian Desmond to be a 2-WAR player for the next seven years. According to his Baseball-Reference page, Desmond has beaten that level the past two seasons, being worth 3.4 WAR in 2012 and 3.7 WAR in 2013.

Now, this blog is strictly 'old-fashioned' sabermetrics, so I don't have a super-sophisticated projection model like ZiPS or Steamer. I do, however, have a Brock2 spreadsheet, based on a system that Bill James devised about thirty years ago. This lets me work out a basic Runs Created value for each of Desmond's seasons, as follows:
Season      WAR     RC
2010        1.1     63
2011        1.5     62
2012        3.4     87
2013        3.7     89
It looks like one needs an offense worth at least 70 runs created to be in the vicinity of 2 WAR, based on Desmond's baserunning and defence. How does Brock2 forecast the next seven years of Ian Desmond?
Season     RC
2014       80
2015       86
2016       84
2017       78
2018       72
2019       69
2020       65
The answer is that based on his previous performance, there is a good chance that Ian Desmond would be worth most of the value of his contract over the next four or five years, and the remaining two or three are the now traditional overpay for a club stalwart. Except I haven't yet taken into account the fact of wage inflation in major-league baseball. The value of a single Win Above Replacement been escalating over the past few years by around ten per cent a year. Let's assume a slight slowing, and say it will in fact be around eight per cent. What does that mean for the value of an offer to Ian Desmond (data in millions of dollars)?

2014 $12.8
2015 $13.8
2016 $14.9
2017 $16
2018 $17.3
2019 $18.7
2020 $20.2

If the Nationals seriously think that Ian Desmond will be worth an average of 2 WAR per season over the next seven years, which may be a little optimistic, then assuming that wage inflation will continue, one is looking at a contract value of around $110-115 million. Realistically, I think it is fair to the club that the last couple of years should allow for a decline phase, so let's hold it at 17.3 for the final three years. That's $109.4 million. It looks like the Nationals might be about $20 million short. How much would you pay for seven more years of one of the last Expos?

1 comment:

Todd Boss said...

I think Desmond is worth even more than that. His contract and positional comparable is simple: Elvis Andrus. 8yrs/$120M. I believe Desmond is nearly Andrus' equal defensively but clearly a superior hitter, both for average and power.

I wrote about this in April 2013 ( before Desmond put up another 20/20 season with plus defense. And before the normal year over year escalation of salary values.

I could see him demanding a Jayson Werth contract now. 7/$126 for $17 AAV.