Yesterday, the Rangers locked up left-hander Scott Feldman on a three-year, $13.925M deal that has an additional club option for a fourth year. The deal covers 2010 through 2012, all three of Feldman's arbitration seasons, and the club option covers what would be his first year of free agent eligibility. Hopefully, my colleague Peter will continue his series on pre-arbitration contract extensions and look at this deal in more detail, like he did with Matt Cain's new contract. But I thought that I would quickly touch on exactly what kind of deal the Rangers got here.
Feldman is an interesting case. He was never hyped all that much as a prospect, and he spent most of his time in the upper minors as a relief pitcher. But the Rangers converted him to starting for the 2008 season, and he ended up pitching 151 mediocre innings for the big league club that season. He bounced back with an impressive 17-8 record and 4.08 ERA in 189 innings in 2009, establishing himself as the team's most consistent starter throughout the season.
But his peripherals don't really support that kind of performance, and the projection systems peg him for an ERA/FIP in the mid-4's. It would seem reasonable to expect him to be a ~2 WAR pitcher next season, which would place his value at roughly $9.5M if we assume that wins are valued at the same level as last season. We should also assume that he'll regress somewhat over the course of the deal, so we'll say that he's worth roughly 5.5 WAR in the next three seasons.
If we assume the 40/60/80 scale for Feldman's three arbitration seasons, under which Feldman is paid 40% of his actual value in his first arbitration year, 60% for his second arbitration year, and 80% for his third and final arbitration year, then Feldman's salaries for his three arbitration years should be about $3.8M, $5.7M and $7.6M, respectively.
So if Feldman follows through with his 5.5 WAR projection, that would make him worth $24.75M based on FanGraphs' calculations. That would value his arbitration seasons at roughly $17.10M, compared to the $13.925M that the Rangers guaranteed Feldman. So the Rangers are saving roughly $10.8M in terms of overall value over the course of the deal, and $3.18M compared to what he would make going year-to-year while maintaining his performance.
So the Rangers obviously are getting good value out of this deal, and there's huge upside if Feldman can maintain what he did last season. They now have their most established starter locked up cheaply through 2012, and 2013 if they so wish, and it's a good deal even if he regresses some. Feldman, on the other hand, gets some nice security with this deal, and while he may have cost himself some money compared to going year-to-year, he's avoided a lot of risk and stress.
These aren't the kinds of deals that will make or break an organization's future, but hit on a few of these deals and you'll end up saving a lot of money. Just ask the Rays about James Shields and Evan Longoria.