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Evaluating Yordano Ventura's extension one season later

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The Royals are pretty fortunate to have the flamethrower throughout the decade.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Back in April of 2015, Yordano Ventura and the Kansas City Royals came to an agreement on a five-year, $23 million deal Ventura to continue pitching in Kansas City well into the future. This agreement also included team options for two additional years, potentially controlling the young man though age 30. That would be essentially the entire peak of his career, if he follows a normal aging curve.

wrote about that very extension a few days after it happened saying:

Ventura and the Royals agreed to a five year, $23 million contract with two club options covering 2020 and 2021 that go for $12 million a piece with escalators that could drive them to $16 million with a $1 million buyout. The deal covers Ventura's remaining two pre-arbitration years, his three arbitration seasons and also his first two free agent years.

....Without going too far into the details at this point, this seems like a win for the Royals, and a possibly big one at that....

That article is filled with a few different outcomes and I foolishly compared Ventura to Chris Archer (who ended up breaking out big time in 2015). However I think across the board we were all happy with what Ventura was at the time, what he projects to be in the future, and what the terms of his deal were. Looking at at the signing thread, the general consensus seems to favor the deal.

Ventura would go onto have an up and down season with some early confrontations with opponents, be demoted then recalled within 24 hours, and be a part of a World Series winning staff, while enjoying the best overall numbers of his career. All in all, it was not a bad year for a 24 year-old Dominican kid who throws fire.

Year K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP xFIP WAR
2015 8.6 3.2 4.08 3.57 3.6 2.7

Ventura wasn't a star but he was a decidedly above average pitcher who despite a lot of turmoil was able to turn in an above average season in ~160 innings pitched. He also provided himself with a nice baseline for potential improvement too, as the projection systems are bullish on him for at least repeating his performance in 2016.

Year K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP WAR
2015 8.6 3.2 4.08 3.57 2.7
Steamer 8.4 3.2 3.51 3.60 3.3
ZiPS 8.4 3.2 3.70 - 2.8

So with 2015 in the books we can evaluate his performance in regards to what the Royals paid him, as well as use the projection systems to try to project surplus value. Using normal aging curves (+.25 wins from 23-27, +0.0 wins from 27-30, -.5 wins from 31+) and a $/WAR value with 5% inflation (not in my article last year - I was probably too high on my $/WAR figure of $8.4M for 2015):

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 24 2.7 $        800,000 $   7,619,048 $    20,571,429 $    19,771,429
2016 25 3.3 $    1,000,000 $   8,000,000 $    26,400,000 $    25,400,000
2017 26 3.5 $    3,200,000 $   8,400,000 $    29,400,000 $    26,200,000
2018 27 3.75 $    6,200,000 $   8,820,000 $    33,075,000 $    26,875,000
2019 28 3.75 $    9,800,000 $   9,261,000 $    34,728,750 $    24,928,750
2020 29 3.75 $  12,000,000 $   9,724,050 $    36,465,187 $    24,465,187
2021 30 3.75 $  12,000,000 $ 10,210,252 $    38,288,446 $    26,288,446
Total - 24.5 $  45,000,000 - $  218,928,813 $  173,928,813

Clearly that's great value for the Royals if Ventura can continue to be a near four-win pitcher for several years. I think that estimate might be a bit too high on him, but this is just a general guideline. He could have a years where he is better and he could certainly have years where he is worse.

So we have a general number of surplus value, but what does $173 million in surplus even mean? It seems like a lot (and it is) but how does it compare to other players who are on "team friendly" deals that buy out free agency years?

Below are some of the most commonly talked about "team friendly" deals around baseball. They all vary in age, but most should be for a similar length of time and all should be buying out free agency years. This is somewhat inherent to surplus value as well. Most free agent contracts don't provide tons of surplus value as the team signing the free agent has to pay close to market or above market rates for the player. We'll also include 2015 in the calculation to try to set it to some benchmark for Ventura. Don't think of it as necessarily a 1:1 comparison of the overall deals (some players had these contracts in 2014) but a comparison of surplus value in 2015 and going forward.

All 2016 projections are from Steamer

Mike Trout

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 23 9.0 $       5,200,000 $   7,619,048 $    68,571,432 $    63,371,432
2016 24 9.2 $    15,200,000 $   8,000,000 $    73,600,000 $    58,400,000
2017 25 9.5 $    19,200,000 $   8,400,000 $    79,800,000 $    60,600,000
2018 26 9.7 $    33,200,000 $   8,820,000 $    85,554,000 $    52,354,000
2019 27 9.7 $    33,200,000 $   9,261,000 $    89,831,700 $    56,631,700
2020 28 9.7 $    33,200,000 $   9,724,050 $    94,323,285 $    61,123,285
Total - 47.1 $  106,000,000 - $  397,357,132 $  291,357,132

It seems insane that despite being owed $100 million over three years, Trout is still going to be the king of all surplus value. I remember thinking when this pre-free agency extension was signed I was mad at the Angels for depriving us what age-26 Mike Trout free agency would have looked like. Seems like 10 years, $400 million wouldn't be insane.

Anthony Rizzo

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 25 5.5 $       5,000,000 $   7,619,048 $    41,904,764 $    36,904,764
2016 26 5.1 $       5,000,000 $   8,000,000 $    40,800,000 $    35,800,000
2017 27 5.3 $       7,000,000 $   8,400,000 $    44,520,000 $    37,520,000
2018 28 5.5 $       7,000,000 $   8,820,000 $    48,510,000 $    41,510,000
2019 29 5.7 $    11,000,000 $   9,261,000 $    52,787,700 $    41,787,700
2020 30 5.7 $    14,500,000 $   9,724,050 $    55,427,085 $    40,927,085
2021 31 5.2 $    14,500,000 $ 10,210,252 $    53,093,313 $    38,593,313
Total - 38 $    64,000,000 - $  337,042,862 $  273,042,862

Rizzo doesn't fall too far from Trout, despite being around 60% as good as him. Trout is expensive in those final years, Rizzo is not.

Okay, so we know that hitters get more money than pitchers generally. This is especially true when it comes to longer term deals. Pitchers get hurt more often than hitters. Let's focus solely on pitchers who are on team friendly deals.

Madison Bumgarner

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 25 5.1 $       6,800,000 $   7,619,048 $    38,857,144 $    32,057,144
2016 26 4.3 $       9,800,000 $   8,000,000 $    34,400,000 $    24,600,000
2017 27 4.5 $    11,500,000 $   8,400,000 $    37,800,000 $    26,300,000
2018 28 4.5 $    12,000,000 $   8,820,000 $    39,690,000 $    27,690,000
2019 29 4.5 $    12,000,000 $   9,261,000 $    41,674,500 $    29,674,500
Total - 38 $    52,100,000 - $  192,421,644 $  140,321,644

Bumgarner projects to step back by almost a full win in 2016, but still provides the Giants with an excellent contract that was signed even after Bumgarner was a very good pitcher.

Chris Sale

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 26 6.2 $    6,000,000 $   7,619,048 $    47,238,097 $    41,238,097
2016 27 5.9 $    9,200,000 $   8,000,000 $    47,200,000 $    38,000,000
2017 28 5.9 $  12,000,000 $   8,400,000 $    49,560,000 $    37,560,000
2018 29 5.9 $  12,500,000 $   8,820,000 $    52,038,000 $    39,538,000
2019 30 5.7 $  13,500,000 $   9,261,000 $    52,787,700 $    39,287,700
Total - 29.6 $  53,200,000 - $  248,823,797 $  195,623,797

Now Ventura isn't as good as Chris Sale (Sale is roughly twice as better) but Ventura is cheaper and has longer control. Sale still comes out on top by around $20 million in surplus value even despite the longer control.

Chris Archer

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 26 5.3 $       1,000,000 $   7,619,048 $    40,380,954 $    39,380,954
2016 27 4.1 $       2,800,000 $   8,000,000 $    32,800,000 $    30,000,000
2017 28 4.1 $       4,800,000 $   8,400,000 $    34,440,000 $    29,640,000
2018 29 4.1 $       6,200,000 $   8,820,000 $    36,162,000 $    29,962,000
2019 30 4.1 $       7,500,000 $   9,261,000 $    37,970,100 $    30,470,100
2020 31 3.6 $       9,000,000 $   9,724,050 $    35,006,580 $    26,006,580
2021 32 3.1 $    11,000,000 $ 10,210,252 $    31,651,782 $    20,651,782
Total - 28.4 $    42,300,000 - $  248,411,417 $  206,111,417

Archer might be the epitome of value for signing a pitcher before he truly breaks out. Archer came off a 1.3-win season in 2013 before signing his extension in April of 2014. Then he busted out for three wins after signing the deal then five wins in 2015. He projects to continue to be an All-Star level pitcher who won't make more than $10 million until the final year of his deal.

Corey Kluber

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 29 5.5 $       1,000,000 $   7,619,048 $    41,904,764 $    40,904,764
2016 30 5.2 $       4,500,000 $   8,000,000 $    41,600,000 $    37,100,000
2017 31 4.7 $       7,500,000 $   8,400,000 $    39,480,000 $    31,980,000
2018 32 4.2 $    10,500,000 $   8,820,000 $    37,044,000 $    26,544,000
2019 33 3.7 $    13,000,000 $   9,261,000 $    34,265,700 $    21,265,700
2020 34 3.2 $    13,500,000 $   9,724,050 $    31,116,960 $    17,616,960
2021 35 2.7 $    14,000,000 $ 10,210,252 $    27,567,681 $    13,567,681
Total - 29.2 $    64,000,000 - $  252,979,105 $  188,979,105

When we talk about guys declining into older age, we always have to start with where they are at for the baseline. Sure, guys get worse as they age, and really good players aren't immune to that. However really good players have a high base to decline from (say for instance Alex Gordon to an extent).

Kluber is entering the decline phase in his career, but is going to be coming down from a five-win plateau. That's what makes his deal and long term control as good as Chris Sale and a little better than Ventura.

Carlos Carrasco

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 28 4.8 $       2,300,000 $   7,619,048 $    36,571,430 $    34,271,430
2016 29 4.8 $       4,500,000 $   8,000,000 $    38,400,000 $    33,900,000
2017 30 4.8 $       6,500,000 $   8,400,000 $    40,320,000 $    33,820,000
2018 31 4.3 $       8,000,000 $   8,820,000 $    37,926,000 $    29,926,000
2019 32 3.8 $       9,000,000 $   9,261,000 $    35,191,800 $    26,191,800
2020 33 3.3 $       9,500,000 $   9,724,050 $    32,089,365 $    22,589,365
Total - 25.8 $    39,800,000 - $  220,498,595 $  180,698,595

The Indians have two of the best pitching contracts in baseball and both go into the pitchers mid-30's. Carrasco is much like Kluber where there isn't really any breakout or upside left necessarily, but more so an all-star level pitcher who should decline well into age.

Jose Quintana

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 26 4.8 $       1,000,000 $   7,619,048 $    36,571,430 $    35,571,430
2016 27 3.6 $       3,800,000 $   8,000,000 $    28,800,000 $    25,000,000
2017 28 3.6 $       6,000,000 $   8,400,000 $    30,240,000 $    24,240,000
2018 29 3.6 $       8,800,000 $   8,820,000 $    31,752,000 $    22,952,000
2019 30 3.6 $    10,500,000 $   9,261,000 $    33,339,600 $    22,839,600
2020 31 3.1 $    10,500,000 $   9,724,050 $    30,144,555 $    19,644,555
Total - 22.3 $    40,600,000 - $  190,847,585 $  150,247,585

Quintana isn't ever probably going to win a Cy Young but he's quietly been an absolute rock for the White Sox rotation alongside Sale. He'll also be making just under $4M millionnext year (similar to the Royals starting pitcher Chris Young) and if the White Sox go selling, Quintana will bring in a nice haul.

Felix Hernandez

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 29 2.8 $    24,000,000 $   7,619,048 $    21,333,334 $    (2,666,665.)
2016 30 4.7 $    25,000,000 $   8,000,000 $    37,600,000 $    12,600,000
2017 31 4.2 $    26,000,000 $   8,400,000 $    35,280,000 $       9,280,000
2018 32 3.7 $    26,000,000 $   8,820,000 $    32,634,000 $       6,634,000
2019 33 3.2 $    27,000,000 $   9,261,000 $    29,635,200 $       2,635,200
Total - 18.6 $  128,000,000 - $  156,482,534 $    28,482,534

Fernandez went from six win pitcher down to a three win pitcher from 2014 to 2015. However Steamer sees a rebound happening back into the elite level range of pitchers. From there he should decline slowly and hit the free agent market again at a not terribly old age of 33 for one final contract.

Rick Porcello

Year Age fWAR Contract $/WAR Value Surplus
2015 26 1.6 $ 12,500,000 $ 7,619,048 $   12,190,476 $      (309,523)
2016 27 2.8 $ 20,000,000 $ 8,000,000 $   22,400,000 $    2,400,000
2017 28 2.8 $ 20,000,000 $ 8,400,000 $   23,520,000 $    3,520,000
2018 29 2.8 $ 21,000,000 $ 8,820,000 $   24,696,000 $    3,696,000
2019 30 2.8 $ 21,000,000 $ 9,261,000 $   25,930,800 $    4,930,800
Total - 12.8 $ 94,500,000 - $ 108,737,276 $  14,237,276

I think we were all kind of scratching our heads at the Red Sox guaranteeing $82 million over the next four years to Rick Porcello. He'll make almost twice as much as Ventura possibly will yet might only be half as good. The 2015 year wasn't part of his extension (much like Ventura's 2015).

Sale and Archer are really in their own level, providing over $200 million in surplus value for their team. The next tier though is where Ventura sits, but at the lower part of that tier. He's well above Quintana and Bumgarner, though those two have one or two years less of team control.

Carlos Carrasco is receiving a ton buzz for his huge trade value, where the asking price is several of a team's top prospects. Ventura though provides an almost equal surplus value and is four years younger (though of course not quite as good). If the Royals do decide to sell within the next two years, Ventura may be the piece with the best return, if they ever part with him.

The extension seems to be a slam dunk win for the Royals. That usually isn't good news for the player, though it's hard to say $45 million isn't nice to have. Yordano Ventura will never get to through the arbitration process, and will miss time in free agency, which, combined could very well have earned him over $100 million.

What really fueled all this surplus value was Ventura's improvement (even if it was just a small improvement) in his age-24 season. He will enter free agency at  a good age (30) if the Royals don't extend him again and pick up the team options. Without knowing what the 2021 free agency market will look like (I'll be 31 years old...man) he could be in line for double what the Royals are paying him for his peak seasons.