Name made an interesting comment the other day, one that shouldn’t get lost. He wondered why teams were giving out long-term commitments to hitters, rather than pitchers, that would extend them to their age-37 season and beyond. He found many more pitchers than hitters that were productive at that age. That corresponds nicely with an idea of mine about the 2022 Mets.

Everyone talked about the average age of the team last season, as it was one of the oldest teams in the league. But while that may be true, it was because of veterans in their 31-33 seasons, not guys three years and more older than that. The only hitter the Mets had in 2022 who was 36 or older (36 used because that’s what the split is at Baseball-Reference) was Robinson Cano and if somehow you forgot how terrible he was, he posted a .501 OPS before the Mets mercifully cut him.

Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar and Starling Marte will all be in their age-34 season in 2023. That will be the final year of their contract for Canha and Escobar. Marte will have two additional years, taking him through his age-36 season. The oldest hitter next year may be Darin Ruf, who would be 36. But there’s no guarantee Ruf makes the Opening Day roster.

Brandon Nimmo just signed an 8-year deal, which will take him through his age-37 season
Francisco Lindor‘s contract will take him through his age-37 season

It’s something to keep in mind when advocating for long-term extensions for either Pete Alonso or Jeff McNeil. I’m a fan of both players but not a fan of them being on the team with a big contract as they push 40. It’s especially difficult for McNeil, who didn’t make the majors until he was in his age-26 season. McNeil’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season. If you were to sign him to an extension today, it could be only five years before hitting B-R’s final age bracket or six years before hitting Name’s threshold of 37.

11 comments on “Wednesday catch-all thread (12/14/22)

  • Name

    I did some more research since you decided to piggyback on my comment.

    This time i’ll split the data into 3 groups :
    not worthy : negative fWAR
    bench worthy : 0-1 fWAR
    starter worthy : 1+ fWAR (arbitrary here but that’s the threshold i decided on)

    for position players 37+
    2022: 2 starter worthy, 1 bench worthy, 9 not worthy
    2021: 5 starter worthy, 3 bench worthy, 4 not worthy
    2019: 1 starter worthy, 1 bench worthy, 5 not worthy
    2018: 3 starter worthy, 5 bench worthy, 6 not worthy
    2017: 1 starter worthy, 1 bench worthy, 7 not worthy
    17-22 avg: 22% starter worthy, 21% bench worthy, 57% not worthy

    2021 seemed to be the outlier here (maybe they benefitted from a short 2020 season?) but nearly 60% of the time the really old guys are not useful at all and likely wouldn’t be playing if teams weren’t still paying their bloated contracts from years prior.

    I also decided to look a little younger to see if the decline starts sooner than my arbitrary age 37

    so for position players age 35-36
    2022: 7 starter worthy, 3 bench worthy, 4 not worthy
    2021: 4 starter worthy, 3 bench worthy, 8 not worthy
    2019: 13 starter worthy, 4 bench worthy, 11 not worthy
    2018: 8 starter worthy, 7 bench worthy, 3 not worthy
    2017: 3 starter worthy, 5 bench worthy, 12 not worthy
    17-22 avg: 37% starter worthy, 23% bench worthy, 40% not worthy

    The variability is a lot greater here, probably because i see a lot more guys that are on short cheap deals given by teams to see if they can catch lighting in a bottle from some older players. The bench rate is about the same as the 37+ group but the percentage starter-level players are nearly doubled which brings the not worthy under 50% so one could say that it’s still worthwhile to take a risk in this age group. Is that risk worth 20+ mil a year though? To answer that one probably needs to more analytics than the rudimentary work than i’ve done.

    • Brian Joura

      This is good stuff – thanks for doing it!

      At $8 million per unit of WAR, it’s tough to be paying $20 million for all but a select few guys.

      • Brian Joura

        Syndergaard signs 1/$13 million deal with the Dodgers. So, he tops Montero’s $11.5 million AAV but does not beat his three years.

    • TexasGusCC

      Name, Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic today wrote a long piece on this topic. It was quite interesting. Here’s a cutout:
      “ Teams are forever searching for new ways to beat the game’s economic system, loopholes they can exploit to maximum advantage. With the long deals that reduce AAVs, clubs have identified an edge when it comes to the luxury tax. But the league is not necessarily inclined to do anything about it, because nothing terribly egregious has occurred.


      Consider Correa. His AAV with the Giants will be $26.92 million, the 31st highest in history, thanks to the money being spread out over 13 years. Now, let’s say the Giants had signed him for a more modest 10 years, still long for a shortstop, still extending through his age 37 season. His AAV would have shot up to $33 million, a difference of more than $6 million per season.”

      It points out that rather that giving $40MM per year, the teams give that number but add in other years at lesser amounts to stretch the contract and make the AAV lower. Makes me wonder why DeGrom didn’t take the higher AAV and “bet on himself” as all players are ought to do, and come out ahead in the long run. Seems like he didn’t trust himself either, or he just wanted out. Otherwise, if he got $135MM now for three years, he could get another $80MM for two years afterwards = $215MM for five years. Instead, he accepted $185 now. If I thought of that, I’m sure he did too. So, why not go for the higher amount?

    • Metsense

      Thanks for sharing your research, name. Apparently the expiration date of a position player is 35 years old. So why are the owners signing free agents beyond this threshold? Economics! It is better for them to do it. This article explains it.

      • Brian Joura

        Somehow, the expression “penny wise and pound foolish” comes to mind.

  • JamesTOB

    I was looking at Jose Quintana’s stats this morning. He had an excellent 2022 with an ERA of 2.93, but from 2017-2021 his ERA was over 4 and over 6 in 2021. Does anyone know any reasons for his remarkable 2022 season?

    • Brian Joura

      I’m sure there were multiple factors but a lacerated nerve in the thumb of his pitching hand and a shoulder injury probably didn’t help in the down seasons.

  • TexasGusCC

    Actually came earlier to write about Chaim Bloom and probably dodging that bullet. I didn’t have much of a problem with much of the BVW reign except for that trade: the one I still can’t get over based on the circumstances, not the results. But, with Bloom cutting Jeter Downs today and basically getting Verdugo for Mookie Betts, me thinks this is his last year in Beantown. He has really set that franchise back, including losing Xander Bogaerts to the Padres for a fairly modest contract based on Bogaert’s production.

  • Brian Joura

    Trevor May has signed for one year with the A’s. We will no longer have to watch him sweat buckets in a 25-pitch outing.

  • David Groveman

    Carlos… Correa… I’m just blinking in disbelief. I’ll be writing something about the minor league reverberations

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