Is He Worth It?

Contrasting the earned salaries and relative value of the Red Sox players this season.

This picture is obviously not from this season, not because Aviles and Youkilis are in the dugout, but because Aceves hasn’t done anything worth receiving high-fives this year.
(Keith Allison/Flickr)

As soon as a new deal is signed the debate begins over whether or not the player is actually worth the money that they will be paid. It happened with all of the free agent acquisitions last winter, it happened when Pedroia signed his extension, and it will happen again this winter before the ink dries on Ellsbury’s new contract.

Fangraphs lists the values of players given their current performances to this point in the season. It is only as useful as you find WAR to be, since it is based on the prevailing thought that one win above replacement is worth approximately $5 million on the open market. Whether or not you get hung up on the shortcomings of WAR (like overvaluing speedy, defensive outfielders) it certainly gives us an interesting point to start a discussion about which players have been the best, and worst values on this year’s club.

A few points of clarification: 

1. Only current Red Sox players (on the DL or otherwise) are included.  Recently acquired players like Jake Peavy and Matt Thornton are not on the list because most of their value and salary are tied up with another club. The same thing goes for players who were released, like Pedro Ciriaco.  

2. Players signed to minor league deals that are called up earn a prorated salary at the league minimum, $490,000. For each of those players, I have used the entire figure of $490,000 and not messed with service time proration. Suffice it to say, those guys are cheap. If they provide a positive contribution to the team, it is a great value. 

10 Worst Values 

Rank Player WAR Value Salary +/-
10 Rubby de la Rosa -0.2 -$0.9 $0.49 -$1.39
9 Jonny Gomes 0.7 $3.4 $5.0 -$1.6
8 Daniel Bard 0.0 -$0.1 $1.863 -$1.763
7 Allen Webster -0.3 -$1.5 $0.49 -$1.99
6 Franklin Morales -0.2 -$0.8 $1.49 -$2.29
5 John Lackey 2.5 $12.7 $15.25 -$2.55
4 Andrew Bailey 0.0 $0.2 $4.1 -$3.9
3 Alfredo Aceves -0.4 -$1.9 $2.65 -$4.55
2 Ryan Dempster 1.2 $6.0 $13.25 -$7.25
1 Joel Hanrahan -0.6 -$3.1 $7.04 -$10.14

Notes: 

  • Nine of the ten players on this list are pitchers, which is indicative of the roller coaster ride that this year’s pitching staff has been, as well as the extreme volatility (and consequently lack of solid value) of bullpen arms.
  • The lone position player on this list is Gomes. I’m sorry Jonny, clearly Fangraph’s WAR does not account for clubhouse presence, mangy beards, clutch pinch hitting, and playing left field in an adventurous, edge-of-your-seat way that would make Manny Ramirez proud.

    Dempster

    Every time Dempster pitches it’s an audition for his future role as the long man out of the bullpen.
    (Keith Allison/Flickr)

  • Both de la Rosa and Webster make this list, which is hard to do when you’re only earning the league minimum. Don’t worry though, there are brighter days ahead for these two young arms.
  • Let’s all observe a moment of silence for one Daniel Paul Bard, please.
  • Morales has only pitched 15.1 innings this season, but he’s been absolutely terrible.
  • Lackey easily leads this group in WAR, but he also leads the team in salary. Sadly, on this scale, that still earns him a spot on the worst values list. I hope this doesn’t effect my membership in the #Lacktators fan club.
  • It’s not surprising to see Aceves so far up this list, despite only appearing in 11 games this season. With a value like that, it’s no wonder the Sox haven’t taken up his offer to sign a 10-year deal to remain with the club.
  • Dempster continues to beg for a demotion to the bullpen. He’s been so decidedly medoicre that most Red Sox fans were rooting for him to be suspended this week, not for justice or anything like that, but just so that he had to miss a start and Brandon Workman could take the mound instead.
  • Remember when the Red Sox came into the season with two “established closers”? Yeah, those two guys will earn over $11 million this season, while providing a combined value of negative $14 million. Thank God for Koji, even if Farrell has no idea how and when to use him.

10 Best Values 

Rank

Player WAR Value Salary +/-
10

David Ortiz

3.6 $17.9 $14.0

+$3.9

9

Daniel Nava 1.0 $5.0 $0.51 +$4.49
8 Mike Napoli 1.9 $9.6 $5.0

+$4.6

7

Shane Victorino 3.8 $19.0 $13.0 +$6.0
6 Koji Uehara 2.2 $10.9 $4.25

+$6.65

5

Jarrod Saltalamacchia 2.3 $11.7 $4.5 +$7.2
4 Clay Buchholz 2.9 $14.4 $5.5

+$8.9

3

Dustin Pedroia 3.8 $19.1 $10.0 +$9.1
2 Felix Doubront 2.6 $13.1 $0.52

+$12.58

1

Jacoby Ellsbury 4.6 $22.8 $9.0

+$13.8

Notes: 

  • Given Ortiz’s relatively large salary, and basically non-existent defensive contributions, his inclusion on this list really speaks to how great of an offensive season he is having.
  • Of course Nava makes this list. If he didn’t, I would have scrapped this column and written something else. Don’t forget, the earliest he can be a free agent is 2018. Three cheers for good players that are under team control!
  • I was surprised to see Napoli on the best value side, but it’s worth nothing that if he was making $13 million a year instead of $5 million he would have been fifth on the worst values list.

    Don’t tell Scott Boras, but Jacoby has been drastically underpaid last year.
    (Keith Allison/Flickr)

  • Victorino gets a huge bump from his incredible defensive value and comes in as the third most valuable player on the team behind only Ellsbury and Pedroia. Despite being on the higher end of Red Sox salaries he still qualifies as a solid value. Not bad for a 4th outfielder, right Keith Law?
  • Koji is the only bullpen pitcher to make this list, not a surprise to anyone who has actually watched the the team play this season.
  • Props to my man Salty, who took my column earlier this season calling for David Ross to become the starter very personally, and turned his season around pretty much the minute that it was published. It’s getting to the point where it is going to be pretty hard not to re-sign him this offseason.
  • Buchholz, despite not pitching in a game since June 8 still comes in at number four on this list. Please come back soon, Clay. It’s not often that a team has the opportunity to make such a significant addition for the stretch run.
  • Pedroia, despite being in the longest slump of his Red Sox career (.215/.290/.300 since the All-Star break entering Wednesday’s game) still comes in as one of the best values on the club.
  • Dobrount’s value demonstrates the wisdom behind the Tampa Bay’s front office plan: young, talented, team-controlled pitching is incredibly beneficial. A 2.6 WAR starter making just a shade over a half a million dollars a season is a phenomenal asset.
  • Coming in at #1 is your favorite center fielder, and mine, Jacoby. Fire Brand‘s Ben Carsley made a good argument earlier this week for spending the money to keep Ellsbury this winter. Based on this chart if he will sign a contract in the B.J. Upton range (5/75 or 6/90) it would be a fantastic value for what he has brought to the table this season. The questions that remain to be answered are if he can put multiple years like this together, and whether or not he will be doing that in a Red Sox jersey.

 

Categories: Alfredo Aceves Allen Webster Andrew Bailey Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz Daniel Bard Daniel Nava David Ortiz David Ross Dustin Pedroia Felix Doubront Franklin Morales Jacoby Ellsbury Jake Peavy Jarrod Saltalamacchia Joel Hanrahan John Lackey Jonny Gomes Koji Uehara Manny Ramirez Matt Thorton Mike Napoli Pedro Ciriaco Rubby de la Rosa Ryan Dempster Shane Victorino

I'm a native Mainer and life-long Red Sox fan living among way too many Yankees fans in New York. I spent most of my childhood convinced that Spike Owen was going to be awesome, sooner or later. The last time I punched a wall was October 16, 2003. My bucket list included personally thanking a Red Sox player for 2004, something I was finally able to check off when I met Trot Nixon. Follow @JK7_

3 Responses to “Is He Worth It?” Subscribe

  1. Gerry August 22, 2013 at 2:21 PM #

    Yes we should sign Ells.  Nap’s actual salary will be $13M due to playing time incentives.  Though I like the Carp/Hassan concept, yes we should sign Abreu.  What would Salty accept at age 28-29?  Is he truly becoming what he was supposed to become?  Would a short 3/$24-27 with room for another big contract at age 31?  Does Ben dare go longer with Vasquez and Swihart looking so good?  Don’t give up on Morales, though I just can’t see Dempster rebounding as an innings eating starter.  Peavy could be an anchor in 2014, but with Iggy continuing to hit (BA .324 after last night’s 2-4) I can’t stop fantasizing about a WMB, PD, X, Iggy IF.  They were never mutually exclusive, and it’s obvious that both X and WMB could play Youk-like 1B.  In 2013 true $$ value will come from WMB, X, JBJ, Nava, Hassan, RDLR, Webster, Workman, Britton.  So relatively few $$ for so much talent.  Wow!

  2. Josh August 23, 2013 at 5:26 PM #

    Doesn’t Napoli get his full salary because he didn’t miss time?  I thought they restructured it so that it was a BASE of $5 million, and the rest was contingent on his hitting certain “games played” targets.