Most people when they read this title will say “Yeah, that’s obvious” but do you know how much you’d give him? Every time I see extension ideas, it’s always for four or five years to buy out arbitration. Let’s stop being conservative with years and the length of the contract. The Yankees, at the end of the 2021 season, should offer Gleyber Torres a $220 million deal for 11 years. Without hesitation, they should offer it and they should be more than willing to do it.
You might be ready to comment “WHAT? $220 MILLION?” and then tweet that Derek Jeter would’ve never chosen money over the Bronx or whatever. To that, I say, yes, $220 million, and it would be one of the best contracts in baseball in team-friendliness.
Understanding Contract Value
How much should a player be paid?
The basis for what you want to pay a player in baseball is $8 million per every Win Above Replacement according to FanGraphs, so if you pay $8 million per WAR, you’re paying around market value. Paying over this rate is an overpay and under this rate is an underpay, which is where the Torres extension idea comes from. Torres in his MLB career has been a 3.0 WAR player per 650 according to FanGraphs. This means Torres, to match his $/WAR value, would have to be paid $24-28 million AAV to be worth his current per 650 Plate Appearance performance. I adjusted to this total since 2020 skews the per-year data as it was a 60 game season. So by market value standards, his numbers are worth the $20 million AAV, but what about for the future?
Future Success Will Increase His Cost
The New York Yankees have to be prepared to give Torres a ton of money at some point. Here’s the thing, Torres is most likely going to get better. I think it’s fair to project Torres to be a five win player at his peak with a 130 wRC+. Over the next 12 years (including 2021) he could probably be around a four win player on average. That would make him worth $384 million over the next 12 years, and if the Yankees don’t extend him until he’s a budding mega star, they’re gonna come a lot closer to that $300 million mark than you’d like. The Yankees are in a unique situation where they can get away with a heist, but wait too long, and it could be doom.
Gleyber Torres Won’t Just Fade Away
Unless you think Torres will accumulate a mere 27.5 fWAR from his age 25 to age 36 seasons, then it’s a good deal. There is no statistical data to suggest Torres will rapidly regress either. While statistical variance is a real concept, you shouldn’t make decisions on a contract based on that. It makes no sense to throw away an opportunity to pay a player with superstar talent only $20 million per year until he is 36 from an organizational standpoint. He’s going to be a three win player at worst, so lock him up and you could get amazing value and flexibility for your payroll.
If he never progresses and is just his 2019 form, he’s a steal. If he does progress? Brian Cashman might be arrested for theft. He’s the future in the middle infield, and he’d be a great buy at $20 million a year.