March 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves, Economic Analysis
It was reported late last night that Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates agreed to a six-year, $51.5 million contract with a $14.75 million club option. I have been tossing around the idea of Heyward signing a contract buying out his arbitration years, and as outfielders with a similar amount of service time, McCutchen’s deal could be a good place for negotiations to start.
McCutchen’s deal looks like a discount. According to Rib Biertempfel, McCutchen will receive $500k this season, followed by $4.5mm, $7.25mm, $10mm, $13mm, $14mm, followed by the option worth $14.75mm with a $1mm buyout.
While it is likely a discount for McCutchen, who has accumulated 12.9 fWAR over his two plus years in the Major Leagues, including a 5.7 win season in 2011. As MLB Trade Rumors explains, Jay Bruce and Justin Upton signed almost identical deals at nearly identical service times as McCutchen. Below is the breakdown for each of their contracts.
The remainder in each deal was used for their signing bonus. At the time of the signed contracts, McCutchen’s fWAR sits at an aforementioned 12.9, Upton had accumulated 10 wins, and Bruce 8. Currently, Jason Heyward is at a comparable amount of service time, though the others were brought up close to mid-way through their rookie seasons rather than right out of spring training as Heyward did. Because of this, they each had a bit more service time which resulted in higher win totals. Heyward has totaled 7.3 fWAR since his debut.
This type of contract would be beneficial to both the team and Heyward, as the Braves have the opportunity to potentially save money over the course of the next six years and Heyward would have the security behind him regardless of how he performs going forward. After this past year and with the injuries he has accumulated in the minors and in Atlanta, this type of security could be worth it for him.
I do not expect the Braves to do it, mainly because I am not sure that Heyward would sign it and I also think the Braves want to make sure everything with Heyward is righted before they sign him for a number of years. Regardless, I think this is a good template for Heyward and the Braves would be wise to at least make this type of offer to him. With payroll being tight and Heyward having massive potential, signing him for the next six years at a potential discount could help in other future transactions.