Giants Extend Vogelsong

The San Francisco Giants have come to terms with Ryan Vogelsong on a two year contract, with a club option for 2014 that gurantees the 34 year old pitcher $8.3 million. It was a year ago today that the Giants signed Vogelsong to a Minor League contract after a four year absence from the big leagues.

The deal covers the last year of Vogelsong’s arbitration eligibility and his first of free agency. If we look at MLBTR’s arbitration projections we see that the Giants’ starter was expected to earn $2.5 million in 2012. This means that the Giants believed that Vogelsong’s 2012 season was going to be good enough to earn him at least $6 million on the free agent market ahead of the 2013 season.

That’s not an impossible scenario, but it’s far from a no doubter.

Last year, Vogelsong was remarkable. He had the eighth lowest ERA in all of baseball. And while it’s become standard practice to assign credit for the Giants’ pitching success to their stadium, which has a way of keeping balls in the yard, it should be noted that a good measure of Vogelsong’s success came by way of keeping the ball on the ground as evidenced by his 45.4% ground ball rate in 2011. This is the result of a very effective two seam fastball that comes down and in on right handers and down and away to lefties, inducing horrible contact for both.

However, that was last year, and after four years away, it’s very possible that the advanced scouts for opposing teams didn’t have the most complete of reports on him. A year later, the book on Vogelsong is out. A quick peak at his monthly splits from last year, show that he gave up more and more runs as the season progressed. This, combined with a high strand rate and low BABIP, suggests that last season won’t be easy to repeat for Vogelsong.

Looking at the free agent contract that Bruce Chen signed with the Kansas City Royals this off season (two years for $9 million), we see that $6 million in 2013 for a more realistic Vogelsong is something of an overpay by the Giants. It’s hardly a franchise crippling sum that they’re committing to paying, but a smarter move from the front office’s perspective would’ve been to use his arbitration eligibility to come up with a one year deal for the coming season. Then, if Vogelsong’s 2012 is at all similar to Chen’s 2011, which would still be a win for the Giants, it would only cost an additional $3 million from what they’ve already committed to paying him in 2013, to retain his services and land him for an additional year.

The contract figures that the two sides agreed to would be good on the free agent market, but with one year of arbitration eligibility remaining, it becomes an overpay. Overall, I think it’s another example of the Giants’ unintelligent willingness to pay for past performance rather than future. Aubrey Huff, anyone?

Comments (13)

  1. Its good to know that there are still shitty GM’s out there for AA to take advantage of. Losing Regins and Wade had me worried for a second.

    • You shut up. And leave the Giants alone. Go exploit Kevin Towers.

    • Agree that they overpaid for him, and this was so a Giants thing to do, however I can’t help but cheer for the guy and hope he lives up to his contract after seeing his story on the Franchise.

      Granted, i’m sure tons of players have a similar story, but it’s still nice to get out of the saber bubble from time to time and see these guys as real people with compelling stories, and not just chess pieces.

      • Definitely. Again, I emphasize that for the most part, I look at contract signings from the perspective of the team. As for Vogelsong, very good on him. All Giants pitchers, even Zito now, are very easy to cheer for.

        I’ve already committed to watching and writing about every Bumgarner start this coming season.

  2. Brian “Overpay” Sabean strikes again. There isn’t a middling pitcher this guy won’t huck cash at. A competent bat however? Who would waste money on that??

  3. So when do the Giants sign Prince Fielder?

  4. I think you’re being far too harsh with Giants management in this case. With his rWAR of 3.7 for 2011 he’s already bagged the Giants a surplus value of roughly $18 million for last season. Fair enough that’s last season. What about next year when he’s due to make $3 million and $5 million in 2013?. For there to be no value in the contract he would have to regress to nothing better than a replacement level pitcher or worse. If he were to regress by 0.5 WAR a year, and for simplicity’s sake say we keep the value of 1 WAR on the free agent market a constant $5 million per year, then he would still generate a $13 million surplus in 2012 and an $8.5 million surplus in 2013. If they were to pick up his club option in 2014 of $6 million he would just need a 1.2 WAR to justify the salary.

    Even if you want to use the horrible fWAR for pitchers and start at 2.4 and knock off 0.5 WAR a year there’s still plenty of surplus available for 2012 and 2013. Since 2014 is a club option with a measly 300k buyout I’m not even going to worry about that.

    For that kind of surplus value there’s very little risk especially when it’s combined with his home park and his very decent road splits. He had one bad month in August if you can call a 3.79 era bad. Vogelsong then bounced back with a very good month in September and October.

    I’m not doubting there’s most likely going to be some regression. However, as the above numbers show even then it’s a very good deal. Compare that to say what Edwin Jackson (3.1 rWAR in 2011) would cost in terms of a yearly commitment and even worse long-term commitment and you should see that this is ultimately a very low risk move.

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