There seems to be some sentiment among fans that Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson are overpaid relative to their production. This may be true for a team in the Pirates situation, as a rebuilding club may not necessarily need to spend several million dollars on two middle infielders in their thirties. But if we are simply discussing their value in free agency, both players will easily earn their 2010 options. Via FanGraphs, each player’s yearly value in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is below. Also included is what that performance would be worth in free agency, as well the player’s actual salary for that season.
|Total *||– – –||14.4||$56.50||$7.90|
|2005 – 2008 Yearly Average||3.05|
|Total *||– – –||14.9||$54.00||$22.50|
|2005 – 2008 Yearly Average||1.85|
As you can see, Freddy averaged over three wins per season in 2005 – 2009. That includes his injury plagued 2008 season, which I think we can call an anomaly at this point. This season, he is on his way to being at least a four-win player, worth somewhere in the range of $16-18 million per season in free agency. Even if we are conservative, allowing for the poor economic conditions and some decline in Freddy’s performance due to age, he is still easily worth his $8 million option in 2010.
Jack’s situation is not as straightforward. In 2005 – 2008, he was worth just under two wins per season. If he continues that trend next season, he would be worth just a bit less than the $8.4 million option that he is due to receive. However, he is currently in the midst of what could be a career year, as he is on pace for about a three-win season. Paying him $8.4 million is not a stretch by any means.
Again, I am not advocating that the Pirates pick up each player’s 2010 option if no contract extension or trade can be finalized. I just don’t think it is farfetched to believe that both could receive similar money on the open market. Bob Smizik thinks Wilson is crazy for passing up the Pirates’ offer of $8 million over two years. I expect he could easily manage that in free agency. And Sanchez is definitely worth more than the $10 million he was offered over two years.
The Pirates have clearly decided that they are not willing to pay market value for one or both of these players. With both Freddy and Jack expressing interest in staying for a few more years, the team made them offers at discounted rates. If the duo wants to remain teammates in Pittsburgh for a few more years, they will have to accept a reduced salary. But the claim that they cannot exceed these offers in free agency is simply wrong.