Report: Phillies Offered Scott Feldman A Two-Year Deal Before He Signed with Houston
From Buster Olney:
Phillies offered almost $15 million over two years for Scott Feldman and thought they’d have the highest bid — before HOU gave him 3/$30m.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 8, 2013
Since 2008, Scott Feldman is one of eight starting pitchers to throw at least 750 innings (~125 innings per season) and post an ERA of 4.60 or worse:
Feldman looks a bit better once you adjust for league and park effects (he spent almost his entire career in the American League, and in the hitter-friendly Ballpark in Arlington) but he’s essentially Joe Blanton. He has decent strikeout and walk rates but he struggles from the stretch and he is victimized by the occasional home run.
Free agent starters to have earned a two-year contract this off-season include Tim Lincecum ($35 million), Tim Hudson ($23 million), and Scott Kazmir ($22 million). Pitchers to earn a salary in the neighborhood of $7.5 million (the average annual value of the Phillies’ offer to Feldman) on a one-year deal include Dan Haren ($10 million), Josh Johnson ($8 million), and Ryan Vogelsong ($5 million). Comparatively, paying Feldman two years over $15 million wouldn’t have been a tremendous blunder.
However, the Phillies’ interest in him doesn’t make a whole lot of sense since he’s expected to produce at the league average or worse. Adding one or two wins with him could take the Phillies from 75 wins to 77, effectively meaningless. If you’re the Phillies, you either need to let your young talent have a chance to contribute (Pettibone, Adam Morgan if he’s healthy enough) or you need to go for high upside (e.g. Johnson, Kazmir). In other words, as the Phillies are presently constructed, the marginal value of a win is low. Once you have about an 85-win team, the marginal value of a win increases tremendously:
(via Phil Birnbaum’s post on the marginal value of a win; click to enlarge)
With the exception of Marlon Byrd, the Phillies haven’t added anyone that will add a significant amount of positive value to the team — and that’s only if you don’t view Byrd’s 2013 production as fluky. If you start with the assumption that the Phillies are a 75-win team (they won 73 last year and had an expected record of 66-96), then they need to add about 8-10 wins of talent before fringe signings like Feldman start to make sense. And unless the Phillies consider themselves in the running for Matt Garza and Shin-Soo Choo (or trading for David Price), it’s hard to see them adding the requisite talent. Realistically, the Phillies should be looking to sign players on cheap one-year deals and trading for players with multiple years of team control remaining. If you luck into some success in 2014, awesome; if not, you’ve set the team up well going forward.