How the heck do you price George Springer?

The recent discussions about a possible extension for George Springer obviously lead to the questions – how much and how long?  All sorts of thoughts go through your head in trying to figure out Springer’s value.

  • Baseball-reference.com shows similar batters to Springer as Tony Conigliaro, Yaseil Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Richard Hidalgo. Conigliaro and Hidalgo are obviously from a different time period. Puig was valued when he was a younger productive head case, but now that he is an older declining head case he currently has no off-season offers as a free agent. Cespedes signed a 4 year / $110 MM contract with the Mets at the age of 31 back in 2016 and has been dogged with injury problems ever since.
  • The financial commitments changed a lot since Cespedes signed the second-highest contract for a position player on an annual average basis in 2016. If you want to look at recent free agents who you might consider as similar to Springer, you could look at the last couple free agent signing cycles to try and glean some similarities.
  • In 2018-2019 someone like Bryce Harper was also a free agent multi-tool OF, but his 27 y.o. age raised his value (13 yrs/$330 MM) far beyond what anything Springer could expect. AJ Pollock (4 yrs / $55 MM) signed at 31 y.o., but his value was depressed by 3 seasons of 12, 112 and 113 games played at a mediocre level. Andrew McCutchen (3yrs / $50 MM) signed at 32 y.o., but is not near the OF he was in his prime years. Closer to home, Michael Brantley (2 yrs/ $32 MM) signed at 31 y.o. with the Astros. While a better pure hitter than Springer, he lacks George’s  power and his fielding ability.
  • In the 2019-2020 signing cycle, Nick Castellanos (4 yrs / $64 MM) is a very solid hitter and much younger than Springer (just turned 28 y.o.), but is considered a huge question mark in the field as a poor fielding 3B and a low range corner OF. Some folks may think Anthony Rendon (7 yrs/$245 MM) though a 3B is a closer comp to Springer. Rendon is basically a year younger than Springer and just came off 3 very strong seasons in a row where he slashed (.309 BA/.397 OBP/ .934 OPS). Springer in a very similar number of ABs slashed (.279 BA/.365 OBP/.879 OPS). Springer was very good while Rendon was elite.
  • There are other considerations for Springer. While not as fragile as a Carlos Correa, he usually misses some time during the season, the only exception being the 162 games he clocked in 2016. Other than that his seasons have had injury holes, 102, 140, 140 and 122 games in 2015, 2017 thru 2019. He strikes out more than the top hitters normally would (an average of 163 over 162 games) and you would only consider his 2019 season (.292 BA/.383 OBP/.974 OPS/ 39 HR/ 96 RBIs) to be really elite.
  • On the other hand, when you look at intangibles, Springer has them in spades. He is probably the heart of this team that has been so very good the last few seasons. He seems like the perfect teammate, always supportive of the other players and the center of their success.
  • Obviously, another factor in pricing Springer is how he may perform in 2020, if and when that occurs. Is he the near MVP performer he was in 2019 or is he the more mediocre and injured version of himself that he was in 2018?
  • A question always will be how much Springer faults the organization for artificially keeping him down in the minors when he could have been brought up as early as 2013. Does this drive him to want a little extra in this first real shot at free agency?
  • A couple wild cards here are the cheating scandal and the COVID-19 crisis. Do other teams believe that Springer benefited significantly from the cheating? Do they think it reflects on his character? On the other hand, does owner Jim Crane believe that he needs to build up good will with the fans and re-sign one of their favorite players? The COVID side of this is that no one knows how the teams losing a 1/2 season or more of income will affect how they value free agents. Will this suppress the market? Will this make players like Springer more likely to sign extensions rather than wait things out and perhaps have an unpleasant surprise in free agency?

In general, teams are not as excited about signing players on the other side of 30 years old. Springer will be hitting free agency before the 2021 season, a season where he will turn 32 by September. How does the stew of issues above affect the length and size of his contract? Totally unscientific guesstimate at his contract….. 5years / $110 MM. What do you think?

35 comments on “How the heck do you price George Springer?

  1. Unless his asking price is like Garrit Cole, you open your wallet. Jim Crane absolutely knows how important George Springer is. We already know Correa will be joining Cole in New York, but signing Springer gives you that core 4 every team HAS to have. *SIGN HIM*!!
    Glad to see baseball will sorta be back by July 4th. I know every pitcher who has to play the arlington little league is VERY happy to see they will able to pitch there without melting down in the Dallas heat….thank the Lord!!
    Had back surgery last Wednesday and I’m slowly trying to heal. I want to thank every one of you for your prayers, they meant a lot to me.

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  2. When going to arbitration the teams compare with players who have put up similar numbers to make cases for how much a player should be awarded. When signing a free agent from another team they generally look at the same comparable players and then raise the ante. When considering George Springer I think that’s the wrong choice. You decide how many years you want to have him with the team. Do you want him to be like Bagwell and Biggio or are you happy seeing him in Yankee pinstripes like we did Lance Berkman? I think you’re going to have to make an offer relative to what you’re paying the other players on the team. That means at a minimum he sees an annual salary that puts him top 4 on the team. I think you need to keep the payroll flexibility to optionally pay Carlos Correa the following year. You also have to expect you will be overpaying him in the later years of the contract, but an MLB team who is willing to suppress salaries early in a player’s career shouldn’t voice a single complaint about such a thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The front loading a contract is something that I like to get away with “we’re stuck with a marginal player with a superstar price”, but I guess that’s easier said than done. Lot’s of considerations to think about there. I was thinking about a contract that escalates starts lower for 2021, highest at 2022, and then deescalates the next three. As an example for a 110MM contract at 5 years:
      21, 30, 21, 21, 17. That way he gets the most after JV’s and Greinke’s salaries come off the books and lower when Altuve’s and Bregman’s salaries are going up. Just a thought.
      Prayers for you Becky. Stay strong!

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  3. We know that a player can expect one (the Greats maybe two) lifetime contract. At the end of this season, it is George’s turn. If Crane wants to give him a “lifetime” deal, there is a chance – not a big chance but a chance. But the decision belongs to George. I wish him well whatever he chooses to do.

    Fair Market Value: The price at which the buyer and seller are willing to do business.

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  4. If George plays a half season in 2020, he’ll have earned about 42 million on his career while producing a 25 plus WAR. At his age, with his production, he’s been a heck of a cheap date. Most guys at 31 with those stats have made quite a bit more money by now. George has just one shot at a big deal. He’s too old to get a second one. 45, agree fully. It’s all about what one buyer will be willing to pay and for how long.

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  5. You wonder how the bigger picture will affect these individual situations. Will the owners use the po’ boy defense going forward. “We lost so much money during the lockdown and we think the fans will be slow coming back out and so we are not handing out as big of contracts in the 2020-2021 off-season.”
    They are already trying to re-negotiate the agreement they had on this year’s salaries. This could get real ugly heading forward.

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    • There is an even bigger “big” picture to consider. Baseball will be starting to cut back on players they don’t project to have major league stuff in their minor leagues, starting in 2021. There is going to be a concentration of better coaching when teams and leagues are eliminated.
      With a draft of fewer rounds, better players and coaches are going to make up the minors and players will be moved up faster.
      The Astros have been on the cutting edge of changes and very forward thinking. I don’t think their new GM is going to stick to old thinking. I believe he comes from a background of looking ahead and planning for it.
      People look ahead to 2021 in the Astros outfield and go OMG! I don’t think the Astros have that same panic.
      I think the Astros see 2021 as a change year in their outfield and beyond that they are making fist bumps.
      Signing Springer would be great, but not signing him would not be the end of the world. The Astros are smart. They are going to find good players.

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  6. The fast development of minor leaguers will depend on at least some of the higher end prospects actually playing somewhere in 2020. Their seasons are likely shot – perhaps in a version of extended spring training in Florida. Other wise it does not matter how concentrated the coaching is if they are not getting reps against other prospects.

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    • We disagree on this because I think that, if rosters are expanded to 29-30 players in 2020, that would mean Tucker, Straw, Toro, Stubbs, Abreu, Perez, and possibly Javier might make the opening day roster, leaving room for other players to move up to AAA in 2021.
      Consider that if 30 players make the opening day roster, 15 pitchers and 15 position players, it would be fairly easy for these players to be in the majors on opening day.

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      • I’m just saying at the age of these guys (I’m talking about he ones who are not going to be on the majors roster) that they need reps.

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  7. Assuming the Dodgers do not extend Mookie Betts, I think the pricing for Springer will depend on what Betts gets. Mookie is 3 years younger than George and has put up better numbers. I am guessing it will take 7 – 10 years at $31 – $35 Mil per year to sign Betts.

    Owners won’t make as much money this year and claim they are “poor” but they have made tons of money from prior years. I think the most that the Astros would offer George is $150 Mil for 5 years, but someone else will offer him more $$ or more years, or both.

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    • I love George to death, but between the ages of 31 and 36 or 37 – George is not worth $30 million a year. I could see $25 million /yr for 4 or 5 years.
      I could be totally wrong on his value too. You may be right.
      Since mlb teams are closed book we really don’t know what they are making and more important how much they are keeping. But if I’m an owner, I may not throw as much money around while saving up for the next pandemic disaster.

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    • It’s weird that he would be the best right fielder, when his last three seasons he made the majority of his starts in CF and these three years were his best years.
      Dave and I were correct all along about him belonging in CF. You can look at Hinch as the guy who stunted Springer’s success by putting him in RF for years when he should have been in CF.

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      • Totally agree – I have the feeling they wanted to be able to have a better overall “team” and that would be Cedeno in CF and Springer in RF rather than Springer in CF and Puhl in RF. So they kind of sort of made it fit.
        But yes, it drove me nuts to have everyone but Springer playing CF in his early days.

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      • Yeah, I still shake my head. The guy was always a centerfielder, an excellent one, all his life. It was obvious. And yet he’s been played out of position for the majority of his ML career. And I’ve never heard even a whisper of complaint. If he has to go somewhere else, he’ll be loved there too.

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  8. Looking back at Springer’s first 3 seasons when he was mostly an RF….

    2014 – Springer started 7 games in CF, while Dexter Fowler (110 gm), Jake M. (16), Alex Presley (11) and even Enrique Hernandez (11) started more….. at least he started more than Robbie Grossman (4)
    2015 – Springer started 8 games in CF, while Jake M(84), Carlos Gomez (38) and Colby Rasmus (31) started more
    2016 – Springer started 1 game!!! in CF, while Gomez (77), Jake M (60), Rasmus (14) and Teoscar Hernandez (10) started more

    Man – made no sense…..

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  9. First, this is Monopoly Money. Second no one – not even themselves – know what crazy owners will pay. Third we have moved from Luhnow to Click.

    Altuve – (Millions) 29, 29, 29, 29, 29 – FA 2025 Age 35.
    Breg – 13, 13, 13, 30.5. 30.5 – FA 2025 Age 30.
    George – 21 – FA 2021 Age 31
    Verlander & Greinke – 58, 58 (Rest paid by AZ) – FA 2022 (Age Old)
    And finally
    Correa – 8, + guess 18? – FA 2022. Age 27

    This looks like George is the middle child. It looks like he hit the market at the wrong time for Astros. So to me it comes down to do you want to try to keep CC and George and have no money for FA pitching or not. George can read. A $30/year commitment has already been made to Bregman and Altuve. Unless no one wants him, I don’t see him jumping on anything less than $30+. Both those pitchers are each making $30+/year.

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  10. The latest from MLBTR is a blog about what 15 Yankees players you would protect in an expansion draft. How’s that for a revelation?

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    • Yes and they put up a survey for the fans to choose the last 4 of the 15 …. Can’t wait for their survey on the 15 biggest cheaters on the Astros…..

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