Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gerrit Cole and The Potential, Never-Going-To-Happen Extension

With Starling Marte's recent extension, talk turned to who the Pirates could lock up next in an effort to cost control their core players.  Gerrit Cole is the next logical candidate, but since Cole's agent Scott Boras is a well-known proponent of getting his star players to free agency as quickly as possible, it's very unlikely.
If Cole were to sign his extension after the 2014 season, he would have 1 year and 111 days of service time accrued.  This should put him safely outside of the dreaded Super 2 threshold, meaning the Pirates would only have to go to arbitration with him three times instead of four.  After this year, the Pirates can pay Cole approximately the major league minimum ($500,000) for 2015 and 2016.  Then from 2017-2019, he would be arbitration-eligible.  So a potential 6 year deal would buy out all five years of remaining team control, plus one free agent year.
To re-iterate -- this is very unlikely to happen because of the presence of Scott Boras.  But let's continue along.
Using the Extension Tracker on MLB Trade Rumors, I filtered the results for starting pitcher extensions between 1 and 2 years of service time.  Since 2008, eleven pitchers have signed extensions with this level of service time.  Of those pitchers, though, only two are in the same neighborhood of Cole in terms of minor league pedigree (how much hype was given) and ceiling (top of rotation pitcher).  Those two pitchers are the aforementioned Julio Teheran (6 yr/$32.4M, with 1 option year) and Madison Bumgarner (5 yr/$35M, with 2 option years).  It should also be noted that both of these pitchers are clients of the Relativity Baseball agency.
Both Teheran and Bumgarner are low-end #1's or high-end #2 pitchers, in my opinion, while I think Cole could be a pure #1 ace.  Let's look at the year-by-year breakdown for each pitcher:
2014 -- $1M signing bonus, $800K salary
2015 -- $1M
2016 -- $3.3M
2017 -- $6.3M
2018 -- $8M
2019 -- $11M
2020 -- $12M option with a $1M buyout
2013 -- $1M signing bonus, $750K
2014 -- $3.75M
2015 -- $6.75M
2016 -- $9.75M
2017 -- $11.5M
2018 -- $12M club option with a $1.5M buyout
2019 -- $12M club option with same $1.5M buyout
If you compare both of them, the year-to-year salaries (at the same point in their service time cycles) are very similar.  Their "platform season" performance prior to getting their contracts are very similar, too.  In Julio Teheran's first full year in 2013, he put up a 3.20 ERA/3.69 FIP in 185 innings with a 8.24 K/9 and 2.18 BB/9.  In Madison Bumgarner's first full year in 2011, he put up a 2.77 ERA/3.05 FIP in 204 innings, with an 8.4 K/9 and 2.02 BB/9.  The 2014 season will be Cole's first full season.  In 2013, his 3.22 ERA/2.91 FIP, 7.67 K/9, 2.15 BB/9 rates all show that he is primed for a breakout full season.
Although I've mentioned twice now that an extension is not likely with Scott Boras, it's not unprecedented.  Since 2008, Boras has negotiated multi-year extensions for eight players.  However, of those eight players only seven bought out or had an option on any free agent years.  Prince Fielder merely cost-controlled two arbitration-eligible years.  It's also worth noting that only one those players, Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies, signed a deal before he reached arbitration.  He had just over two years of service time when his deal was signed.  Additionally, only one of these players, Jered Weaver of the Angels, is a starting pitcher.
Even though an extension is highly unlikely, let's assume Scott Boras is in a generous mood with the Pirates.  He'll want Gerrit Cole's contract to be precedent-setting, so he'll want to exceed the Teheran/Bumgarner deals.  Here's a potential framework:
2015 -- $2M signing bonus with a $1M salary
2016 -- $2M salary
2017 -- $4.5M
2018 -- $7.5M
2019 -- $10.5M
2020 -- $13M
2021 -- $15M option with a $2M buyout
That totals up to a 6 year/$42.5M deal with an additional option year worth $15M potentially.  Except that it most likely won't happen because (all together now) Gerrit Cole has Scott Boras as an agent.

1 comment:

  1. Just because I don't think you mentioned it enough: This will NEVER happen unless Step 1 in the process reads "Gerrit Cole fires Scott Boras."