Sunday, September 5, 2010

What Do You think of Bill Smith Now? Extensions

This is the 4th in a series of reviews of the job Bill Smith is doing? If you need catching up, I'm not a huge fan of his trade history, I like his free agent signings and think he is crappy at managing the day-to-day major league roster.

This post will focus on the extensions he has doled out to current players. I will use WAR (wins above replacement) and dollar value figures from

Before 2008, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Joe Nathan were given Smith's first extensions. These extensions were given after Johan Santana was traded and Torii Hunter was let go.

Justin Morneau was given a 6 year $80 million extension. This was the largest contract the Twins had ever doled out. Through the end of 2010, Morneau will have earned $35 million. Morneau has had his season de-railed each of the last two seasons, however, he has still been worth 12.5 WAR, worth $53.6 million. He has been well worth the contract so far. If he can come back from his concussions, he should be worth the rest of his contract as well.

Michael Cuddyer was given a 4 year $33.5 million extension (counting the 2011 option the team has already picked up) through the end of 2010. He will have earned $23 million. He only has a 3.2 WAR the last three seasons worth $13.6 million. He is well respected in the clubhouse and in the MLB, but his bat hasn't been great and his defense hideous.

Joe Nathan was given a 4 year $47 million extension plus a 2012 option. He performed well in 2008-2009 but has missed all of 2010 due to Tommy John surgery. He has earned $33.75 million, but the team saved approximately $6 million due to insurance for his injury. He has been worth a 4 WAR in his two healthy seasons worth $18 million. As an elite close he has still only been worth $9 million a season.

In 2009, Smith signed Jason Kubel, Scott Baker and Nick Punto to extensions.

Jason Kubel was given a 2 year $7.2 million extension plus a $5.25 option in 2011. He has been worth a 3.5 WAR worth $15.2 million. He was worth much more in 2009 than in 2010 due to greater offensive contribution as well as a lack of exposure on defense. The Twins should exercise Kubel's option, but keeping him off the field for a better defender increases Kubel's value. As an aside, when Kubel was given his contract, Dave Cameron suggested Kubel was no better than Eric Hinske. Hinske has a 1.5 WAR and has been worth $6.5 million the last two seasons.

Scott Baker was given a 4 year $15.25 million extension with an option for 2013. Baker was just coming out of his serf years and has earned $3.75 million. He has been worth a WAR of 5.8 and has been worth $24.9 million. He has been worth his contract already and this was a smart signing by the team.

Nick Punto was given a 2 year $8.5 million extension plus a 5 mill option in 2011. The much maligned Punto has had his own day and has a WAR of 3.1. Due to good defense, Punto has been worth $13.3 million. I would not pick up his option, due to better and/or cheaper options. If Punto's option is picked up, Punto will probably be, at least, worth what he is paid.

Before 2010, the Twins signed Joe Mauer, Brendan Harris, Nick Blackburn and Denard Span.

Joe Mauer, 2009 AL MVP and potential 2011 free agent was going to get a boat-load of cash. He got that boatload from Minnesota. Joe signed the biggest extension ever, not given to a current New York Yankee. He was given an 8 year $184 million extension for the 2011-2018. He has had a fine season, though not up to 2009 standards. His 4.7 WAR in 2010 has been worth $18.9 million so far this year. He will have to average 8 seasons slightly better than his 2010 campaign to be worth his $23 million a year contract. Joe's contract was about more than money. He's from Minnesota and homegrown in the Twins organization. Letting Joe Mauer go was not an option and signing Mauer is worth a premium to keep him the face of the franchise.

Brendan Harris was given a 2 year $3.2 million extension. He has earned $1.45 million in 2010 but he has been just terrible this year. He earned a negative .9 WAR before being dumped off the 40 man roster and sent to AAA. He has been worth -$3.5 million. This extension was unnecessary due to Harris' arbitration standing, but didn't look bad at the time. However, IT HAS BEEN BAD!

Nick Blackburn was given a 4 year $14 million contract plus an option for 2014. Blackburn has earned $750,000 in 2010 due to coming out of serf status. I didn't hate the deal at the time, but many did. He has been worth a 0 WAR and spent some time in AAA this season. He has been worth $0. He has been a big game pitcher at times, but needs to strike out more and give up less hits to come anywhere close to earning his deal.

Denard Span was given a 5 year $16.5 million contract plus and option for 2015. Span has struggled this year and I've advocated his benching. He has still been worth a 2.5 WAR and $9.8 million, mostly due to a 6.3 UZR/150 in center field. To the naked eye, his defense looks brutal. He may have increased his range and perhaps just looks bad on certain balls he should have caught. Span is coming out of serf status and earned $750,000 on his contract in 2010. His contract has almost paid for itself already and it is expected that Span will bounce back offensively.

Smith has doled out extensions that have cost the Pohlad family $114.15 million since 2008, less nearly $6 million coming back due to Joe Nathan's injury. He has gotten $144.2 million worth of value out of these contracts. Smith has done very well signing the team's core players, though contracts such as Blackburn's and Mauer's could haunt in future seasons.

Finally, there is one notable extension Bill Smith could not workout. The re-signing of Torii Hunter. Hunter was offered a 3 year $45 million deal but instead signed with the Angels for 5 years and $90 million. So far, through nearly 3 years of that deal, Hunter has an 9.2 WAR, worth $39.9 million. Hunter has been worth less than the 45 million the Twins were willing to give him. Letting him go has been a smart move. Smith offered fair worth, the Angels are losing money on Hunter.

Smith gets his best score on contract extensions!

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