Reds - General

Extending Themselves

I thought it would be interesting to look at what Wayne Krivsky has done in the way of contract extensions. My gut impression tells me on the big moves (Adam Dunn & Aaron Harang), Krivksy has done really well. But he’s also signed several inferior players to contract extensions that have blocked better, younger, cheaper players. Let’s see what the transaction log tells us…

Feb. 13, 2006 – Adam Dunn (2 years, plus an option for ’08). Locked up the team’s #1 or #2 asset at below market rates. Good work, and a good start to Krivsky’s tenure.

June 28, 2006 – Jerry Narron (through ’08, plus an option for ’09). Krivsky may not take full blame for this one, but it was obviously a huge mistake.

July 26, 2006 – Scott Hatteberg (through ’07, plus an option for ’08). This move worked, on paper. Hatteberg played very well in 2007. The move had other consequences, though, in that it blocked Joey Votto, who sure looked like he could have played first base for at least half of the ’07 season. I can’t see Hatteberg’s ’08 option being picked up, but we’ll see.

July 31, 2006 – Rheal Cormier (through ’07). This was necessary in order to get Cormier to agree to the trade to the Reds. A double whammy, as he was terrible in both the ’06 stretch run and ’07. Jerry Narron simply refused to use him, and he was cut by Memorial Day.

Aug. 26, 2006 – Javy Valentin (through ’07, plus an option for ’08). The LLM’s power disappeared this year (.276/.328/.387), but he was still a decent contributor for the money ($1.25M). I’m guessing they pick up the option (though I can’t remember how much it’s for).

September 25, 2006 – Juan Castro (through 2008, with an option for 2009). Castro was coming off a season where he “hit” .251/.281/.351. He was 34 years old. The move was utterly senseless at the time, and looks 800 times worse, after Krivsky signed Alex Gonzalez to play SS and acquired Jeff Keppinger to be a good-hitting utility man. Oh, and Castro hit .180/.211/.236 in 54 games, before hitting the DL. The question becomes whether Krivksy & Castellini have the stomach to admit his mistake and eat the $1.075 for Castro’s ’07 and ’08 buyout. I suspect they do – they did cut Cormier.

December 12, 2006 – David Weathers (through 2008). In 2007, Weathers did exactly what he’d done in 2006: 70-something innings with a 3.55-ish ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Even if you dismiss the value of “the closer,” Weathers was a very valuable contributor to the Reds, and well worth his $2.25M.

February 6, 2007 – Aaron Harang (through 2010). Harang didn’t miss a step after signing his big contract, giving the Reds another 230 innings with a 3.73 ERA. Great move.

February 8, 2007 – Bronson Arroyo (extended through 2010, with an option for 2011). This one feels a little like Krivsky (and/or Castellini) got caught up in the excitement of the Harang signing. Bronson was already signed through 2008, so Krivsky bought a journeyman pitcher’s age 32 and 33 seasons, for $25M. That looks a whole lot worse when you think of it that way. Arroyo pitched 210 innings in 2007, with a 110 ERA+. I’m less than optimistic that we’ll be considering Bronson an asset come 2010.

April 16, 2007 – Ryan Freel (through 2009). Freel will earn $7M over the ’08-09 seasons, when he’ll be 33-34. I sure doubt he’s going to be worth having around at that price. Norris Hopper apparently proved that he can do essentially what Freel does, without the risk to life and limb, and at a greatly-reduced price. Freel hit .245/.308/.347 in 295 plate appearances, with 47 Ks and only 15/23 on steal attempts.

April 27, 2007 – Todd Coffey (extended through 2008). This looked really dumb about 27 days later, when Krivsky demoted Coffey. Or 14 days after that, when he demoted Coffey again. On the season, Coffey threw 51 innings, allowed 89 runners, 12 HR(!), and had a 5.82 ERA.

My report card:

Good moves: Dunn, Harang, Weathers, Hatteberg, Valentin.
Jury’s still out: Arroyo, Coffey.
Likely mistakes (or worse): Narron, Cormier, Castro, Freel.

Your thoughts?

7 thoughts on “Extending Themselves

  1. Let’s give credit where credit is due — Hatteberg has been fantastic for two years. (Time to give Votto the 1B job now, but for the last two years he’s been awesome.)

    I thought Cormier and Castro were unthinkably bad moves, even at the time, and they turned out even worse than I thought they would.

    You’re right, Chris — it is an interesting blend of a track record.

    (I’ll add that I thought that the Stanton signing was bad — especially at 2 years w/ an option for a 3rd, for a 40-year-old — but I guess that was just a regular FA signing rather than an extension.)

  2. According to the RN Salary Chart, LLM’s 2008 team option is $1.3mil. Hard to envision that being declined.

    The thing that bothers me about the “likely mistake” moves is that their results were entirely foreseeable (and in fact, were predicted by many) at the time the extensions were signed. I don’t think anyone expected Freel to tank as badly as he did in ’07, but we all knew that his reckless abandon was going to have a cost at some point sooner rather than later; the dollar amount was not the issue, it was the 3-years-into-the-future timeframe. Meanwhile, the Cormier trade in particular was just a flat-out panic move that was immediately bad for multiple reasons – the money, the roster commitment, the unreliability of his performance, and the talent traded for him.

    I will say, though, that just from my perspective I thought the Coffey move was just fine at the time, and it sure looks bad now (though still incredibly inexpensive). On the flip side, I also thought it was a bad decision to extend Weathers, and in value for the money that’s turned out a whole lot better than I ever expected.

  3. I still think Coffey can be very useful, but I’m still trying to figure out why it was necessary to extend him at that point. I guess it was buying out what Krivsky expected to be a couple of expensive arbitration years?

  4. Great piece. I agree with Dan, Stanton should be in there as a very bad signing also. I surprised no one has jumped to the defense of Arroyo. The sensability of his extension was only a ‘tad’ below Harang’s. He should definitely be listed as a ‘good move’. As for Coffey, he of the laser beam straight fastball, should go to the trash heap.

  5. I agree with Trev about Arroyo. Even if he turns out to be no better than a third or fourth starter, I think it’s a good deal. (Given how much mediocre pitchers like Lohse, etc. command.)

  6. The thing to remember about Arroyo is that he was already under contract through 2008 (IIRC). IMO, it was very early (and probably unnecessary) to be paying market-plus rates three years out.

  7. I’d put Arroyo in the “good” column, Coffey in the “bad.”

    Overall, he has done very well with extensions. Castro was obviously horrible and is squarely his fault, but the rest? Cormier was a stretch run move that did not work out; they got rid of him promptly. Freel was terrible in hindsight, but I was not terribly opposed to it at the time. I kinda liked the Coffey move at the time, but, wow, something is wrong with that guy.

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