FanPost

Incompetence Part 2: Free Agent Findings

In this series of articles, I am attempting to set out a persuasive argument whose thesis is that Royals GM Dayton Moore should be fired immediately. There is concensus among the Royals community that Moore is not a good GM, but a sizable portion of individuals still think he should be given more time. This is an untenable position. Dayton Moore should be fired immediately.

In part one, I looked at the fWAR of Moore’s draftees and argued that Moore’s apparent preeminence as a brilliant drafter and cultivator of talent is, at the very least, not true. This is admittedly the least convincing argument that I will assert, as the potential of players such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers, Danny Duffy, and others still holds sway. Next year will be a deciding year in whether or not to label Moore a great drafter or not. Unfortunately, the Royals don’t have that much time to wait for this to happen.

In the next two parts, I will take a look purely at the results of Moore’s free agent signings and trades. Finally, in part four, I will attempt to tie the previous three parts in with other information in order to evaluate the integrity and success of Moore’s overall vision. But, for now, let’s take a look at free agents.

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For the meat of this part, I took a complete list of free agents signed by Moore (many thanks to Craig and company of the former Royals Authority team for putting a nice comprehensive listing of Moore transactions on the website), found their Wins Above Replacement via Fangraphs, and put it into a somewhat simple table, as you can see below. I wished to see how Moore’s signings corresponded to the rough yet mostly universal (to my knowledge) estimate of $5 million per WAR in regards to free agent services. A number of clarifications are in order:

  • Green means at or better than market value ($0-$5M/WAR), yellow less (>$5M), and red means 0 or negative WAR. I've been having issues with making the table work so it might not show any colors though. #SBNationUnited
  • If Moore signs a player as a free agent more than once, I count all the contracts up as one to avoid confusion (Bruce Chen for instance).
  • The WAR listed is the amount of WAR accumulated during the length of the contract, even if that player is traded. A trade involves a different managerial skill and thus should have as little impact on the data as possible.

And now, the table.

Season

Name Years Signed Salary ($Million) fWAR $(Million)/fWAR
2007 Gil Meche 5 $55.0 10.7 $5.1
Octavio Dotel 1 $5.0 0.4 $12.5
John Bale 3 $5.2 1.6 $3.3
David Risk 1 $2.0 0.4 $5.0
2008 Yasuhiko Yabuta 2 $6.0 -0.3 -$20.0
Jose Guillen 3 $36.0 -1.8 -$20.0
Miguel Olivo 2 $4.8 2.3 $2.1
Brett Tomko 1 $3.0 0.7 $4.3
2009 Doug Waechter 1 $0.6 -0.1 -$6.4
Horacio Ramirez 1 $1.8 -0.1 -$18.0
Kyle Farnsworth 2 $9.3 1 $9.3
Willie Bloomquist 2 $3.1 -0.6 -$5.2
Juan Cruz 2 $6.0 0.1 $60.0
2010 Jason Kendall 2 $6.0 1.3 $4.6
Brian Anderson 1 $0.7 0 N/A
Noel Arguelles 5 $6.9 0 N/A
Scott Podsednik 1 $1.8 0.7 $2.5
Rick Ankiel 1 $3.3 0.8 $4.1
2011 Jeff Francoeur 2 $8.5 1.7 $5.0
Melky Cabrera 1 $1.3 4.2 $0.3
Jeff Francis 1 $2.0 2.6 $0.8
Bruce Chen 2 $6.5 3 $2.2
2012 Jonathan Broxton 1 $4.0 1.3 $3.1
Yuniesky Betancourt 1 $2.0 -0.8 -$2.5
Jose Mijares 1 $0.9 0.8 $1.2
Roman Colon 1 $0.7 0.1 $6.7
26 46 $182.2 30 $6.1

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Some quick hits:

  • Best Signing: Melky Cabrera, worth $14.5 million more than paid
  • Worst Signing: Jose Guillen, worth $45 million less than paid
  • The Surprisingly Good Signing: Jeff Francis, worth $11 million more than paid
  • 24 out of 26 players earned less than $10 million
  • 31% of Moore’s free agents have failed to accumulate a positive WAR
  • Only 4 players accumulated more than 2 WAR during their contract

One can draw a number of conclusions from this, but the study illuminates one key factor: Dayton Moore has been decidedly below average in spending in free agency, paying $1.1 million dollars more per win than estimated market value. This alone would seem to condemn Moore in some manner. Clearly, the number of impact free agents on this list is decidedly small.

But Matt, you say, look at 2010 and 2011! Every one of Moore’s signings that played in the majors he got for better than market value! It would seem he is getting better! Why fire him now?

I will not dismiss this statement outright because it is not completely false. This two-year stretch brought Moore’s $/WAR from close to $10 M per to the resulting $6.1 M per. It consists of some of Moore’s best free agent signings: the initial Melky/Frenchy signings, Francis, and even Chen. However, it also consists of a few somewhat less stellar signings, such as the bust of Noel Arguelles, Kendall, and the doubling-down of Chen and Francoeur, whose failures were sorely apparent this year. The way I have arranged the data makes it look like a better stretch than it is. Dayton has comfortably reverted back to some unintelligent signings of old.

After looking at this data, I can conclude two things. First, Dayton Moore is a below average free agent signer. Second, Moore has had very little experience in signing high-impact free agents. This leads me to believe that Moore is ill equipped to sign free agent pitchers this offseason.

I have purposefully left out one aspect of free agent signings: opportunity cost. Spending in one way by definition prohibits spending in another way, and free agent signings have more opportunity cost than strictly monetary cost. This will be included in part four. Don’t fret.

Thanks for reading.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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