Monday, February 18, 2008


The news of Francisco Rodriguez saying that he expects this season to be his last in an Angel uniform has spread through the Halosphere like wildfire. I first noted it at BBTF when this OC Register article was linked, which includes the following passage:
[T]he Angels have made numerous multi-year offers to their closer over the past three offseasons. General Manager Tony Reagins confirmed that the Angels did make Rodriguez a multi-year offer this winter. That deal is believed to have been in the neighborhood of $34 million for three years. Coming off three consecutive 40-save seasons with more saves than anyone in the majors over that time, Rodriguez was seeking a deal more like the three-year, $45 million contract extension Mariano Rivera signed with the Yankees this past winter.

Rodriguez could be a hot commodity as a free agent. With a less impressive track Crecord than Rodriguez has, former Rangers and Brewers closer Francisco Cordero was able to get a four-year, $46 million deal from the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent this offseason.
There are people out there doing good work on how much a player should be paid, based on what he contributes to his team. But let's ignore that for the moment, and look at it from the perspective that Frankie and his representatives will be. They want to know who is similar to Frankie, and what they do get paid, not what they should be, necessarily.

As you recall, Frankie became the Angel closer in 2005. Over the past three years, he has saved 132 games with an ERA+ of 197. So let's look at pitchers who, from 2005 through 2007, have at least 100 saves and an ERA+ of at least 170; this will be Frankie's peer group.

Here they are. There's only four: Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner, and Frankie. Frankie actually has the lowest ERA+ of any of them, though he has the most saves. But let's see what these guys make:
Pitcher   Yrs   Sal   Yr Signed
Nathan 3 16M 2006
Rivera 3 45M 2008
Wagner 4 43M 2006
Nathan wasn't a free agent yet when he signed his current deal, which gave him $5M per year in 2006 and 2007; the club exercised its $6M option for 2007. Rivera and Wagner, however, are making an average of $12.6M per year over their current deals. Though Frankie isn't quite as good as they, or at least hasn't been over the last three years, with salary inflation and his age, one would have to imagine that this would be at the bottom of the range that Frankie would command on the free market come next winter, presuming he stays healthy and performs at a level substantially similar to what he has done thus far.

There are five pitchers one step or more down from Frankie, guys who have had 100+ saves over the past three years, but ERA+ numbers below the 170 mark.
Pitcher   Yrs   Sal   Yr Signed
Isrinhsn 4 33.75M 2005
CCordero 1 6.2M 2008
Hoffman 3 21M 2006
FCordero 4 46M 2008
Jones 1 7M 2008
Chad Cordero has never been a free agent, so his salary isn't really relevant here. Isringhausen and Hoffman are both on their option years in 2008. Anyway, of the four free agent pitchers in this group, they're making an average of $9M per year.

The Angels have offered Frankie just over $11M per year, so they are trying to pay him at a level close to the Big Boys, but not quite matching them; that's much closer to Francisco Cordero than . His performance thus far would justify that, if that's how you're looking to pay your players. However, I would have to assume that Tony Reagins is not an idiot, and knows that there's no way Rodriguez would go for that, especially not in a world that pays Francisco Cordero, a reliever of lower accomplishment and older vintage than The K, $11.5M per year. The market for elite closers, rightly or wrongly, is trending upward, and there's no way in hell we should expect Frankie to sign for a lesser deal than Francisco Cordero.

How much should Frankie be paid, based on performance? We'll look at that another day. But the Angels have low-balled him thus far, at least relative to other recent closer contracts; this may be sound negotiating, and this may all resolve itself in the next few months, but based on what has reportedly been offered so far, I can understand why Rodriguez thinks he may be in a different uniform come 2009.


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