I’m not even 24 hours from recording our EPIC mash-up, crossover episode with our friends from SoxInTheBasement and BOOM! the White Sox are back in the news cycle again. Btw, thanks to our guys Chris and Dave from SITB for a very fun time. We are likely to do some stuff together again in the future. Anywho, let’s get on to it….but let’s go back to the beginning.
When this tweet first came through, my thoughts were..
Sorry James, like Tony Rocky Horror “I shoulda better fuckin’ known better”, because you nailed it!
The Luis Robert deal does very little in reality, other than add 2 weeks of plate appearances in Chicago in 2020 to his resume. It feels like this gigantic thing, but it really isn’t, its newsier than it is actually impactful. I guess one thing that it does do is save the drama for your mama when it comes to the remainder of the off-season and particularly spring training. It’s now a “let’s play ball and try and win this thing” attitude, instead of Hahn prancing around, jizzing lawyer speak all over our favorite beat reporters as to why Luis Robert has to spend two weeks in the city of Charlotte to “sharpen his skills”.
Now, pre-arbitration deals are pretty much Rick Hahn’s calling card, he’s been excellent at that as a GM and almost nothing else (so far). Those deals for Adam Eaton, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana basically set up this current team. Now, let’s take a look at this one and compare it to “market”.
The table above does a quick analysis of what I think the probabilities are that the White Sox pick up those 2 option years (that’s GOOD Robert) or spend $2M to buy him out and then he goes out in the market and makes some money, but less than the $20M he would’ve made with the White Sox (that’s BAD Robert). I’m making some estimates on the probabilities as well as the $10M/yr Robert would make after getting bought out. Yes, I know the White Sox can buy him out either of those two years, but I chose simplicity over precision. Remember YMMV.
To compare to Robert, I chose 3 players from right, damn, now, to see how much of a discount our White Sox got on this deal. The red and blue colored dollar values are estimates, the blue are by Spotrac and the red are by me, because I needed to put a bow on each player’s earnings.
On the low end, I chose Jackie Bradley, I know there is a chance that Robert completely craps out or has a devastating injury and never plays again, but I also think in general, his downside is being a good defensive CF with a fuckton of power, so better than Bradley, but I think he encompasses the downside.
I chose my most likely comparison to Robert as George Springer, a very good player, but not an MVP level player (although he’s had MVP votes) and a player that has had some injuries and some ups and downs in performance, but a solidly above league average player.
Lastly, I mixed in Kris Bryant‘s salaries. He’s sort of a direct comparison in the fact that his service time was gamed exactly like Robert’s would have been and he had eye popping stats in the minors the year before the manipulation occurred, even though positionally and skill-set wise they are different players. Bryant won an MVP, so I couldn’t make this the most likely comparison, but I could see Robert being an impact player immediately and garnering large arbitration salaries as soon as he would’ve been eligible.
Now, after calculating those salaries, I realized that I need to figure in some estimated increases in salary over those different time frames, as my examples are materially in the past and Robert’s salaries are going to be in the future. We are looking at ~8 years worth of salary, but I am basically estimating two of those years, so I chose to grow the salaries at 2.5% (compounding) for 6 years. This is a conservative estimate imo because even though the last two seasons (2018 & 2019) have seen MLB salaries stagnate, the period between 2001-2017 saw approximately 4% year over year compounding growth.
The final verdict of my ham fisted calculation has Luis Robert giving approximately a 14% discount to the ball club, which shocked me as to how small of a discount it appears to be. Now, these are fast and loose calculations and YMMV, but this team-friendly deal appears to be closer to market than many of the previous ones executed, both by the White Sox and the broader league.