Jeremy Guthrie: Two Comparisons and a Question

I, like many (but certainly not all) other Royals fans, was dismayed by the news that Jeremy Guthrie had been signed to a 3-year, $25 million contract. This signing, on the heels of the acquisition of Ervin Santana, quashed my irrational optimism that Dayton might finally get it right this off-season. In spite of Dayton's best efforts, I can sometimes delude myself into thinking that the Royals are somehow on an upward trajectory. I'm afraid this signing has finally put my self-delusion to rest. Maybe that is for the best.

All of that aside, I thought I might make two quick comparisons that, at least to me, show what a terrible signing this truly was.

Comparison #1:

Guthrie (Age 33)

Age 27 Season - AAA 123 IP - 6.4 K/9 - 3.5 BB/9 - 3.17 ERA - 3.77 FIP

Major League Career 1200 IP - 5.4 K/9 - 2.7 BB/9 - 4.28 ERA - 4.74 FIP - 4.63 xFIP

Pitcher X (Age 23)

Age 23 Season - AAA 89 IP - 7.4 K/9 - 2.2 BB/9 - 3.61 ERA - 3.51 FIP

Major League Career 89 IP - 5.9 K/9 - 3.3 BB/9 - 5.32 ERA - 4.66 FIP - 4.64 xFIP

As some of you might have guessed, Pitcher X is actually the Royals' very own Will Smith. Admittedly, Guthrie does have a fastball that is about 2 MPH faster than Smith, and Smith's Major League sample size is pretty small. However, the point stands that Dayton Moore just paid $25 million to a pitcher who possesses a career xFIP that is indistinguishable from Will Smith's. Said pitcher is also a full decade older, so if anything you might expect Smith to get better and Guthrie to get worse.

None of this is to say that Smith is currently a good pitcher or that he is likely to be one in the future. In fact, Guthrie may very well be a better pitcher than Smith. The problem is that even if Guthrie is better than Will Smith, the margin between the two is not especially large, and will be probably get smaller over the life of Guthrie's contract.

Smith (age 24 next year) will probably be in AAA again next year because he certainly won't be allowed to take starts away from the core pieces of Chen, Guthrie, and Santana (average age of 33). However, I would wager that if he was given the same number of starts as Guthrie over the next three years, the two pitchers would generate comparable value. The catch is that three years of Smith would cost about $1.5 million instead of $25 million.

Comparison #2:

Guthrie (Age 33)

Major League Career 1200 IP - 5.4 K/9 - 2.7 BB/9 - 4.28 ERA - 4.74 FIP - 4.63 xFIP

Hiroki Kuroda (Age 37)

Major League Career 918 IP - 6.8 K/9 - 2.1 BB/9 - 3.42 ERA - 3.62 FIP - 3.63 xFIP

There is no question that Kuroda is a far superior pitcher to Jeremy Guthrie. Kuroda rejected a qualifying offer from the Yankees of $13.3 million for one year, but ended up accepting a deal for $15 million for one year. Moore apologists are quick to offer up the fact that the Royals must pay much more for free agent talent than teams like the Yankees. It is unclear to what extent this claim is true (if it is at all). However, for the sake of argument, I will take it as being a serious problem.

Obviously, Kuroda was willing to sign a one-year deal. He took $15 million from the Yankees, but I have a feeling that if the Royals had offered Kuroda $25 million for one year, he would be wearing Royal blue next season. This brings us to the question of this FanPost. Which is a better deal for the Royals: Jeremy Guthrie on a back-loaded $25 million contract over three years or Hiroki Kuroda on a $25 million one year deal?

Even though I don't think it is a good deal, I would absolutely take the Kuroda signing given those two options, especially given where the Royals are in terms of developing young pitching. I will now insert the obligatory poll.

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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