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Adam Lind Sticking Around In Toronto For A While

News is that the Toronto Blue Jays have locked up slugging lefty Adam Lind to a four year contract extension. The deal will keep Lind north of the border for between four and and seven years, depending on whether the Jays pick up the three team options they have. Lind will make $1 M this season in what would have been his final pre-arbitration season, and $5 M in each of the following three years, with club options for $7 M ($2 M buyout), $7.5 M ($1 M buyout), and $8 M ($0.5 M buyout) thereafter. Looks like a good deal for Toronto at first blush.

Lind was called up for a cup of coffee in 2006, and tore things up with a .367/.415/.600 in 65 plate appearances. The following season Toronto brought him to the majors after a couple weeks at Double-A and he struggled mightily, hitting just .238/.278/.400 without particularly good plate discipline - and another trip down to the minors mixed in. With his stock dimmed a bit, Lind starter 2008 in Triple-A, where he went back to mashing (.328/.394/.534) before being called up for good at the end of June. He improved to .282/.316/.439, and cut his major league strike-out rate from 22% to 18%. Lind was still chasing a lot of pitches out of the zone (34% according to FanGraphs), which kept his walk rate down well below his minor league numbers, but he showed some ability to hit for both average and power. Most of his time in the majors in '07 and '08 was spent playing left-field, by the way, where he post a +1.7 UZR in 151 combined games.


Going into 2009, the Blue Jays made Lind - who was turning 26 half way through the season - their primary DH. And boy did he ever have a break-out season. .305/.370/.562, 35 home runs (good for 5th in the AL), a .394 wOBA (7th), and 114 RBI (3rd). He stopped chasing pitches out of the strike-zone so much - getting his O-Swing % down to about the league average - and increased his walk rate to an also league average 8.9%. His power production also went way up, not only with the longball (based largely on a jump in HR/FB rate from 13% and 11% to almost 20%) but also with the two-bagger, as Lind cracked 46 doubles. Despite spending most of the year at the least valuable position - and posting a -24.4 UZR/150 in left when he did play the field - Lind accumulated 3.7 WAR according to FanGraphs. Additionally, despite his mediocre speed Baseball Prospectus had him as only -.36 runs on non-steals baserunning.

Going into 2010, Lind is projected to hit .293/.350/.502 by CHONE, with ZiPS being a little more pessimistic (.277/.339/.488) and the FANS being more optimistic (.299/.365/.535). Using that middle-ground, Lind as a DH for a full season (600 PA) would be about a +20 run hitter with a -17 positional adjustment. That makes him a bit above average as a player; 2.3 WAR or so.

If we assuming that Lind can sustain that level of performance over the next few years - say, through his seasonal age 28 season (2012, during which he'll be turning 29) - before declining by 0.25 wins a year; that a win is going for $3.5 M right now, and will increase by 7% a year thereafter; and the usual 40-60-80% arbitration rate; then we get the following:

Year WAR Contract Free Agent Value Year-to-Year
2010 2.3 $1 M $8.5 M $0.4 M
2011 2.3 $5 M $9 M $3.6 M
2012 2.3 $5 M $9.7 M $5.8 M
2013 2.05 $5 M $9.3 M $7.4 M
2014 1.8 $7 M ($2 M) $8.8 M $8.8 M
2015 1.55 $7.5 M ($1 M) $8.2 M $8.2 M
2016 1.3 $8 M ($0.5 M) $7.4 M $7.4 M
First Four 8.95 $16M (+ $2 M) $36.4 M $17.2 M
Total 13.6 $38.5 M $60.8 M $41.6 M

Looks to me like the contract is largely spot-on, though the option years give an advantage to the team. If Lind were to decline faster than I have, then the Jays are free to just not pick up the option in a given year. If he sustains his production better, then Toronto comes out ahead a bit more.

Year WAR Contract Free Agent Value Year-to-Year
2010 3.5 $1 M $12.7 M $0.4 M
2011 3.5 $5 M $13.5 M $5.4 M
2012 3.5 $5 M $14.5 M $8.7 M
2013 3.25 $5 M $14.4 M $11.5 M
2014 3 $7 M ($2 M) $14.3 M $14.3 M
2015 2.75 $7.5 M ($1 M) $14.1 M $14.1 M
2016 2.5 $8 M ($0.5 M) $13.7 M $13.7 M
First Four 13.75 $16M (+ $2 M) $55.1 M $26 M
Total 22 $38.5 M $97.2 M $68.1 M

On the other hand, if you think that Lind's 2009 season - 36 runs above average with the bat in 654 PA - is more indicative of his ability going forward, then that would start him out at maybe 3.5 WAR and we'd get:Then the contract obviously looks like a steal for the Blue Jays, as pre-arbitration deals tend to do when the young player stays productive.