HELLO Ball Boys and Ball Girls. Five days into the lockout, time for part two of Justify the Contract! Twenty-seven years of labor peace have come to an end for MLB. Meaning we have a long cold winter ahead of us. Nearly $1.7 billion was committed to free agents during November, smashing the prior record by 4x. Meaning, it's time for us to play "Justify the Contact."
Before we jump into part two of starting pitchers, I want to talk about the title change changes you will see going into the 2022 season. There will be four main segments: Tasty Talk with Dan-o's seasoning, Cold Hard Facts with the Coldest Water Bottle, Lightning Hot Takes with RAZE Energy, Fresh Outlooks with Dr. Squatch. These four companies are the prominent supporters of the Ball Boy Blog and give me a chance to provide all this content to you guys to enjoy. Please head here and check out the promos I got going on as we look to push Ball Boy Blog to new heights in 2022!.
For part one of Justify that Contact, simply click here.
Now, let's jump into Justify that Contact for the SP signed pre-lockout. We will ignore recency bias as most MLB teams don't but look at a few metrics: Age, career WAR, career ERA/FIP, career W-L%, career 162 game average IP.
-Sandy Alcantara 5yr/$56mil- Miami
Miami extended Alcantara and locked him up for the long term. Now, the local Miami Sandman has pitched in the bigs for over three seasons. He has earned a solid 7.8WAR. At 26yo, Miami is getting the beginning of the prime years of Alcantara, which was so bright for Kim Ng and Derek Jeter to capture. Throughout his career, he has amassed a 3.49ERA/4.04FIP, with his FIP lowering each season since 2018. He has pitched for the losing and rebuilding Marlins team, so the career .370% of W-L is genuinely a result of the situation. On average his will give the Marlins rotation 202IP, which you can't ask for much more from your now ace to be out there consistently. This contact, for me, is JUSTIFIED and a win for the Marlins. I expect several more cheap, long-term deals for this team.
-Jon Gray 4yr/$56mil- Texas
The 7yr vet Gray got OUT of Colorado and away from the Rockies, who love to waste talent. Gray is a prime example of why the MLB should lower and adjust the service clock requirements to hit free agency. In his seven seasons pitched, he owns an 11.0WAR. Pitching in Colorado tends to lead to an ugly ERA, and that's the case for Gray's career 4.59ERA/3.91FIP. Gray has pitched on a not-great Rockies team for most of his career this. His .520% W-L is a product of the situation. On average, Gray will give the Rangers 186IP in a season. Now, $14 mil for the guy who led the NL in Earned Runs in 2018 seems steep! To me, Gray is nothing special, and this contract is NOT JUSTIFIED.
-Steve Matz 4yr/$44mil- St. Louis
Matz got out of the Mets organization in 2021 went and rebuilt his value in Toronto instead. For just over $11mil a year, I love this deal just because of that. The Cardinals have an excellent staff and culture that even got Arenado to opt-in to the remainder on his contract. The career 9.4WAR is due to injury and subpar Met's offenses. The career 4.24ERA/4.34FIP does exactly mean ACE. However, it means the Cardinals are getting precisely what they need. A solid, veteran piece to the rotation who wins .484% of games and gives you 179IP in a season. The contact to me is JUSTIFIED.
-Anthony DeSclafani 3yr/$36mil- SF
I knew that DeSclafani would rebound from injuries nicely in 2021, and he is someone who I hoped the Mariners took a flier on the last off-season. Like others on this list, he has pitched for an under-performing team in Cincinnati that hasn't put a lot of talent around Joey Votto, which has led to a 10.1WAR. The Giants system for pitchers has always been sound, and in 2021, it was great! The career 4.06ERA/4.12FIP has been a product of seasons cut short to injury. The health was back in 2021, and the Giants loved the guy enough to extend him at $12mil a year. Excellent job, Giants. This contract is JUSTIFIED.
-Alex Wood 2yr/$25mil- SF
Wood was so clever to return to the NL West and pitch in a familiar park after years with the Dodgers. Wood, much like DeSclafani, is another product of excellent coaching and a system that works, and Wood bought in, and the results were those similar to 2017 when he was an All-Star with the Dodgers and came in 9th in Cy Young voting that year. The career 12.7WAR is the product of injuries over the nine-year career for the 31yo. The career 3.50ERA/3.51FIP and 178IP will be more than enough to justify the 12.5mil being paid to him. JUSTIFIED!
-Alex Cobb 2yr/$20mil- SF
The 34yo, 10yr MLB vet has been riddled with injuries over the years while also pitching for a lackluster Baltimore franchise. The career 14.4WAR is a product of injuries and awful offenses. Cobb may be in line for a late-career resurgence if he can remain healthy after an excellent 2021 that reminded us of the Tampa Bay years when he had two seasons with and an ERA under 3.00. To me, the career 3.87ERA/3.94FIP and .512% W-L that was hurt while in Baltimore could be well worth the $10mil a year. If he could pitch to his career-best 179.1IP as he did in 2017 or even at least $150+, my contact is JUSTIFIED.
-Noah Syndergaard 1yr/$21mil- LAA
Yes, he is THOR. HOWEVER, he is also coming off Tommy John's surgery. He is on the right side of 30 at 29 to still have an excellent Demi-God level career. Before I give my opinion here, let's look at the numbers. The career was 15.9WAR; he deserves the credit after six seasons while pitching for lackluster Mets who couldn't muster much offense during Thor's early years. The career 3.32ERA/2.93FIP is excellent and a credit to him and a .603% W-L. He does, when healthy, give a team 202IP. Thor did lead the NL in ER in 2019 with 94. A healthy Thor will deserve $20+mil a year, but Syndergaard is coming off TJ surgery, and the last time we saw him pitch an entire season, he led the NL in Earned Runs. This contract screams desperation, and with that, the contract is NOT JUSTIFIED.
-Justin Verlander 1yr/$25mil- Hou
One of the most interesting pre-lockout deals that aren't done yet. I have complete confidence it will be done come to the end of the lockout. From what I have read, the whole deal is supposed to be for 2yr/$50mil. However, we won't know till post-lockout. The 16yr vet is coming off TJ and is undoubtedly a lock for the Hall of Fame when he decides to hang it up. I don't need to tell you that JV has a 71.8WAR, 3.33ERA/3.41FIP, .637W-L%, or any of his fantastic career achievements. He hosted a couple of showcases before signing that reported him touching 95+ on the gun. The Astros will need their ACE back to help mentor a couple of young arms with high upside, no Grienke, and likely no Correa. to me, the contract is NOT JUSTIFIED.