David Wright’s contract continues to be a bargain

David WrightThe big news that has shaken the Major League Baseball landscape over the past week was the mega deal signed by Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera.

The 30-year-old (hard to believe) Cabrera’s eight-year extension brings the total money owed to him by the Tigers to $292 million over 10 years, two vesting options worth $30 million each.

By contrast, David Wright’s extension was eight years and $138 million.

But surely the two-time reigning American League MVP Cabrera is clearly a superior player to Wright, right?

Not necessarily.

Sure, we’ve been down this road before, but in light of the most recent developments, it’s worth traveling down this road one more time.

Let’s compare their stats from 2013, arguably the best offensive season either player has had.

Player Games wOBA wRC+ UZR UZR/150 BsR fWAR fWAR/150
Miguel Cabrera 148 .455 192 -16.8 -19.9 -4.4 7.6 7.7
David Wright 112 .391 155 3.7 4.9 4.4 5.9 7.9

There it is, clear as day: Cabrera is clearly the better offensive player – and there isn’t a person who can really argue that – but when it comes to the overall production of the players, Wright and Cabrera are very much equal.

The advantage that Cabrera has from being such a dominant force with the bat is completely erased by his baserunning “skills” and his Dick Allen defense.

To be sure, defensive and especially baserunning metrics are years behind offensive metrics, so it is completely possible that if the metrics were further along, one player might come out as being far and away the better player, or not.

Also you have to consider the other factors surrounding the contracts signed by the two players: the Tigers are certainly on less shaky financial ground and are better suited to overpay to keep a great player like Cabrera, whereas the Mets needed Wright to take a bargain-basement deal, which he graciously did.

But even factoring that in – and taking into account the way that free agency has changed over the past year – the large disparity in the contracts for more-or-less the same player is staggering.  The $154 million gap is enough that the Mets could trade for Mike Trout with his newly signed extension and still have about $10 million left over (yes, I realize the absurdity of that statement, but you get the idea).

The idea here also is not to say that the Tigers overpaid for Cabrera, in hindsight this extension probably won’t be looked at as a bad deal.  The point is that with the way that the free agent market has shifted, Wright’s contract was a great bargain for the Mets. 

It’s not a stretch to say that if Wright were a free agent today, he could easily and justifiably get $200 million.  As the second season of Wright’s deal is set to begin later today (make sure you come back and participate in the game chatter!), we should all take the time to further appreciate what he’s done for the team, and why he truly embodies the meaning of captain.

Let’s go Mets!

Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville (NC) SwampDogs and does play-by-play for NJ.org Varsity.

16 comments for “David Wright’s contract continues to be a bargain

  1. March 31, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I’m sorry but they are not the same player. Miggy moved over to third base to accommodate Prince Fielder. The fact that Cabrera played 30 more games with an injury that hampered him the final 2 months of the season speaks volumes. There’s a reason why he won 2 consecutive MVP’s over Trout. As for the Mets being on financial shaky grounds they have no one to blame but themselves. Had Wright not given the Wilpons a discount I wonder if he would still be here.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 1, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Fair to bring up the position change, which certainly hurt his defensive value. But I’ll ask you this: Is plus defense at third greater than below average defense at first base? Obviously the answer is it depends, but certainly the move back to first swings things in Cabrera’s favor. As for the MVP’s, I give it to him in his triple crown year, but not last year, but then again, I don’t get a vote, so it doesn’t matter.

  2. Patrick Albanesius
    March 31, 2014 at 11:40 am

    You mentioned “in hindsight (Cabrera’s) extension probably won’t be looked at as a bad deal.” Yahoo’s Jeff Passan and ESPN’s Keith Law both destroyed the logic of the extension, and most others like it. Wright’s defense certainly makes up for some difference in value, but Cabrera has a World Series team built around him to support those offensive stats. Wright hasn’t had much over the past few years. They might be more equal in value than some realize, but those circumstances are the driving point behind these two massive unequal extensions. I’ll take Wright and the ability to sign more players with left over money any day of the week, and twice on Saturday.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 1, 2014 at 11:05 am

      It’s certainly an overpay today, but I think that 10 years down the road, it may not be looked at as the worst contract ever handed out.

  3. Stephen
    March 31, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Simply put, if you think Cabrera and Wright are equal you simply don’t understand baseball.
    Defensive statistics, frankly, are a joke. Just look at Keith Hernandez career dWAR.
    Sadly, I think this is the way the Mets front office thinks, which is why we end up actually looking at someone like Lucas Duda at first, and not Lagares in center.
    This “new age” of statistics fails to account for perhaps the most important aspect of baseball, the building of a team, and the effects one player has on those around them.

    • Chris F
      March 31, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      Yeah, I pretty much agree there. I think the metrics are loaded with unintended consequences. Miggy is a first ballot hall of Famer, multiple MVP, triple crown winner. DW is a long shot hall of Famer. I value defensive production, but there’s no chance DW is anywhere near Cabrera overall.

      Having said that I completely agree with the overall premise — DWs contract is a bargain!

    • Joe Vasile
      April 1, 2014 at 10:59 am

      Three things. I do say that the defensive and baserunning metrics that favor Wright and seemingly equalize the playing field, are not as developed as the hitting metrics that favor Cabrera, and therefore are less reliable.

      Keith Hernandez played in the pre-UZR era, when Total Zone was pretty much the only advanced defensive metric available. UZR isn’t perfect (but it will be greatly improved with the new Inside Edge defensive analysis), but it is miles ahead of TZ. Also, I don’t really like to use dWAR personally.

      As for the last point, you build a team based on finding the best players whose abilities compliment each other. How do you do that? By using the “new age” statistics. Like a scout told Robert Ford, the Houston Astros radio broadcaster: a lot of people thought Moneyball was [expletive for garbage], and now they don’t have a job.

      • Chris F
        April 1, 2014 at 12:54 pm

        We have the Moneyball-man and his crack staff of metrics people in charge, and in this time, the metrics have not yielded a single +.500 season. Sure, every team is looking at all the “objective” numbers (which are not really like operational math functions that describe physical laws, such as E = mc^2 or F = ma), which is to say they are hacking apart results as much as possible to try to identify trends. My comment is about unintended consequences is that there are more variables involved than the metric expressions available to draw truthful conclusions. With too many unknowns, and to steal from Rummy, unknowns we dont even know, the metric expressions produce numbers, but whose significance is not necessarily meaningful. Most metric calculations masquerade as quantitative, but in fact are highly subjective or full of dependencies that make comparison dodgy.

        Anyways, back to the situation at hand. Not 1 person on any club would say David Wright is as good as Cabrera.

        Like I mentioned yesterday, my dissatisfaction with the metrics has led me to develop my own scoring system over the off season that fully embraces the dynamism of each moment, that accepts many of the things we see are subjective, but important, and that utilizes the variability of every play for the moment it is in. For example, a 10 pitch strike out against a pitcher at 82 pitches and behind by 1 run is far more valuable that a 3 pitch K in the first inning. Another example from yesterday is that Lagares’ HR to break a tie in the 8th was worth more than Wrights 2 run HR in the 10th, with the good guys behind by 4. I am scoring offense and defense separately. In yesterdays game the offense points by order were: Lagares (33), Wright (27), Brown (23) with the rest basically < 20. Relative to the team average offensive score on the day, the average offensive output for each player was Brown, Lagares, and Wright.

        Tejada had the most raw points on Defense, slightly ahead of Wright, EY, and Lagares given the total chances, however only Wright and Lagares scored above the team average of defense (and just barely), with Tejada just below. In fact all would have been with a std dev of the mean.

        Does that make sense with what you saw in the game?

        • Name
          April 1, 2014 at 2:22 pm

          I think a healthy David Wright is just as good as a healthy Miggy. The main reason that Miggy gets put above David though is because he’s been much more consistent and healthy than David over his career and especially in the last few years. Aside from his rookie season, Miggy’s lowest number of games played was last year at 148. Meanwhile in the last 3 years, David has not surpassed 112 games in 2 of them.

          • April 1, 2014 at 10:18 pm

            But Name you just gave the reason why Cabrera is better than Wright. Everyone knew Cabrera was playing hurt the last two months of the season. You had a manager in Detroit who understood his players desire to play and balanced it with convincing him to rest on a more frequent basis than Miggy would of preferred. If Cabrera is a 10 then Wright “when” healthy is 9.5.

          • April 1, 2014 at 10:18 pm

            But Name you just gave the reason why Cabrera is better than Wright. Everyone knew Cabrera was playing hurt the last two months of the season. You had a manager in Detroit who understood his players desire to play and balanced it with convincing him to rest on a more frequent basis than Miggy would of preferred. If Cabrera is a 10 then Wright “when” healthy is 9.5.

  4. Name
    March 31, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    “in hindsight this extension probably won’t be looked at as a bad deal.”

    Why do we have to wait until hindsight? It’s a terrible deal now. And it’s gonna look worse in hindsight, not better. I mean, do the Tigers even understand bargaining power? Why would you sign a guy whose value is at an all-time high, and with 2 years remaining on his contract? There was no reason to do an extension now.

    • April 1, 2014 at 8:09 am

      Maybe the Tigers felt that the closer they got to his pending free agency that other teams like the Dodgers would raise the price even higher. AT least give them kudos for trying to retain their core players and using the additional 50 million they’ll get from the new television contracts. Something our own team sorely lacks.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 1, 2014 at 10:52 am

      I’m thinking that as the market develops over the next 10 seasons, contracts the size of Cabrera’s will become more commonplace ($30 million/yr+), and it won’t look as bad as it does in 2024 as it does in 2014.

  5. Metsense
    April 1, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Wright signing for 8 years @ 138M and the contract being reworked to give some salary flexibility was a great move by Alderson. Prior to the signing, Wright averaged 26 HR’s, 105 RBI’s , 301 BA and a slash of .386/.501/.887.
    Wright is clearly the best 3B in the league. Over the course of the 8 year contract, with WAR conservatively valued at $5M per WAR, David would need to put up a 27.6 total WAR for the length of the contract. If we subtract the 5.8 already achieved in 2013 it leaves Wright with a 21.8 WAR to fulfill his contract or roughly 3.1 WAR per year based on 2014 values. These values are most likely going to increase in the future which will only enhance the bargain the Mets got.

  6. Paul E
    April 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks for the Dick Allen reference…interestingly enough, at the age of 30 (just like Cabrera last year), Allen posted the highest OPS+ of any qualified batter that age 30 season. I’m only going back post-dead ball era (1920 – present). Basically, Jason Giambi….without the steroids

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