Friday, February 21, 2014

Simmons Gets a Seven-Year Itch

So, on Tuesday, I wrote that I did not think the likelihood was strong that Andrelton Simmons and the Braves would come to an agreement on an extension that both felt benefited each side.  I ended the article by saying this.
Though...I didn't think Craig Kimbrel would get an extension so tomorrow, we might know about an extension for Simmons.
In my defense, it came two days later.

For those living under a rock, Simmons inked a seven year contract that will pay him $58M.  As Fangraphs David Cameron pointed out, Simmons had comparable service times to Anthony Rizzo and Paul Goldschmidt.  Both will receive significantly less than Simmons despite the rough offensive year Simmons had last year.

We found that defense does pay if that defense is at such a level that there are no comparable players.  The Braves wanted to balance the potential in his bat with what they had already seen while Simmons wanted to be paid for his defense and plus power for his position while, at the same time, attaining security.  Both sides basically got what they wanted.  Simmons, like other recently extended Braves, will receive a heavily backloaded deal.  The breakdown looks like this:

  • 2014 - $1M
  • 2015 - $3M
  • 2016 - $6M
  • 2017 - $8M
  • 2018 - $11M
  • 2019 - $13M
  • 2020 - $15M
Add in a million for the signing bonus.  Simmons would have likely been arbitration eligible as a Super 2 player in 2015 and a free agent after the 2018 season so this contract buys out two years of free agency for $28M, or nearly half of the contract.  Backloading deals can be worrisome.  Right now, the Braves have invested $64.2M in five players for 2017.  How significant is that?  Look at the breakdown of guaranteed cash after 2014:
  • 2015 - $71.2M (8 players, $8.9M per player)
  • 2016 - $47.8M (5 players, $9.6M per player)
  • 2017 - $64.2M (5 players, $12.8M per player)
  • 2018 - $41M (3 players, $13.7M per player) + $13M Kimbrel option
  • 2019 - $45M (3 players, $15M per player)
  • 2020 - $38M (2 players, $19M per player) + $12M Julio Teheran option
Note that I'm not including arbitration players.  Wonder why the money goes down in 2016 and climbs more than $15M the following season in 2017.  

Oh, yeah, that's the year the Braves are moving to Cobb County.  Clearly, the Braves are banking on that move allowing them to make the money they need to pay for a much larger payroll.  For what it's worth, the Miami Marlins payroll jumped over $40M in their first year in their new park, a climb of 76%.  However, a raise of 76% from the recent run of $90-95M-ish payrolls would be an unrealistic $160M range.  We know that the Braves can't be operating under that payroll expectation in the market they are with the TV contract that has been an albatross on them.  But still, it would seem realistic that Atlanta thinks their future payrolls may climb as far as $120M in their new stadium.  In the meantime, their recently signed core will spend three years making good money until the backloaded portions hit.  

In the meantime, Braves fans are thinking "who's next?"  Mike Minor would appear like a good target.  The lefthander avoided arbitration with the team this offseason and is a Super 2 player.  Perhaps Atlanta wants to see a second solid season before committing.  Kris Medlen could be a possible target as well, though there was some talk last season of moving him to the pen.  Both Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are free agents after 2015.  Chris Johnson had a tremendous first season with the Braves, but they certainly want to see him duplicate that success.  

Hell, the way they are going, they might sign Lucas Sims to a ten year deal.  

Probably not, but this offseason has been so strange.  Many crucified the offseason for following up a big season with little action.  They inked Gavin Floyd to a one-year deal and acquired Ryan Doumit.  Big whoop.  Braves fans were confused, upset, ridiculously short-sighted, and fearful after watching Tim Hudson and Brian McCann leave and potential trips to arbitration with a trio of players considered part of the core of the team.  

Now, Braves fans are spoiled with good news. 

We told you guys.  It's a long offseason.  

Believe us now?

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