This off-season the two biggest non-Teixeira bats seeking long-term contracts will be Adam Dunn and Pat Burrell. Sorry Raul Ibanez, and for goodness sake nobody should give Jason Giambi or Manny Ramirez a five-plus season contract, and yes I am looking at you Ned Colletti. The question is whether Dunn and Burrell are actually worth the length for their production, and that just so happens to be the purpose of this article.
Both Dunn and Burrell share some common concerns. Neither plays defense all too well, which limits their market considerably unless a National League team wants to run out a below average fielder, and within the 4-6 years of their contract will almost certainly be limited to designated hitting or first base. Offensively, these two have "old player skills"; they walk, they strikeout, they don't hit for average, and when they do hit the ball it goes a very far. The theory produced by Bill James is that players with old player skills will age worse than those with "young player skills" (contact, speed, ect.). I have no idea how accurate that is, but I do know that a player's peak is around his 28 year old season, unless it's Barry Bonds.
What I decided to do was take a not-so-random sample of players in recent seasons who signed lengthy deals while possessing "old player skills". This gives an idea what the trend has been lately, and what the warning signs were heading into the contract. I decided to exclude hall-of-fame talent like Manny Ramirez and Bonds for obvious reasons, nobody on this list or on the free agent list (outside of Ramirez and Bonds) are Ramirez and Bonds.
Richie Sexson: Four years, 50 million from Seattle.
Notice how everything begins to slip after 2005. Could be a coincidence or it could be that Sexson began losing bat speed? For whatever it is worth Sexson's infield flyball rates increased following 2005 as well. I'm not sure if there's a correlation between losing bat speed and therefore being late and under certain pitches or not, so don't take too much from that, but it's an interesting correlation none the less.
Jason Giambi: Seven years, 120 million from New York (AL).
The funny thing is that Giambi's production still hasn't fallen off and so you're not going to see any point of decline, even as a 38 year old I'm quite sure he'll find a job DHing next season somewhere. Oakland or Tampa would pop to mind, although with his "history" I'm not too sure the Rays would go after him.
Carlos Delgado: Four years, 52 million from New York (NL).
Again, there is no clear sign of attrition. Interestingly both Giambi and Delgado had one down season though. Plus Delgado doesn't exactly fit the mold anyways.
All of that is fine and dandy, but what about the players themselves. Well Adam Dunn concerns me the most. Most of his trend data is identical to last season, yet remember he plays for the Diamondbacks now, and his slugging this season is .502 instead of .554 last year. Some of that could be BABIP unluckiness, or it could mean he's not quite as good as his Great American Ballpark counterpart. Obviously if Dunn is more of a .500 SLG player than a .550 that drastically affects how much he would get on the open market. Burrell on the other hand IS a .500 SLG player. His skill evaluation, like Dunn's, looks mostly clean, and whether it was intentional or not Burrell lowered his strikeout rate last season to about 25% and has maintained that, which simply means he strikes out as much as Evan Longoria or Matt Kemp instead of Carlos Pena or Ryan Howard.
Frankly I'm not really sure if I would give either anymore than three years, but what do you think?