I am sure, by now, everyone has heard or read the statement Cespedes made about getting an extension and staying with the A's for his entire career. He is a very talented and relatively young player, and I am all for this idea. The question is, what would it take to keep him, or better yet, what is his value? Did we shoot ourselves in the foot guaranteeing him $10.5mm in 2014 and 2015 right out of Cuba? What is he worth, and what will he be worth? What can the A's afford? What would he get? These are all questions up for discussion and ready to be examined. Here is some info for you.
He has played 2 seasons at the MLB level, making 540 PA and 574 PA (129 and 135 games). He has a bit of injury history when it comes to his wrist/hand and legs. He still maintains around 130 games a season, and produces at an above average level.
He was 2nd in ROY voting in 2012, hitting .292 with 23 HR and 16 SB, worth 2.9 WAR. He took a big step back in his batting average and speed in 2013, but maintained the same amount of power, hitting .240 with 26 HR and 7 SB, good for a 2.3 WAR
He still has 2 more years on his contract to either prove himself, or god forbid, falter. For the sake of this post, lets talk an extension for him right now. Using an average of the Oliver and Streamer 2014 predictions on Fangraphs, they believe he will produce like this in 2014:
133 Games, 565 PA, . 258 BA, 24 HR, and 10 SB
I see this as a very accurate prediction. I think he is a career .250 - .260 hitter, with 25- 30 HR a season. If he doesn't have any more leg injury issues, I could see him stealing 10 - 15 bases every season, but with his injury history, it might be more accurate to predict 5 - 10.
Using this information, we can get a feeling for how he will perform over the next 2 seasons with the A's, as well as how he will be performing after his age 30 season, if he were to be extended.
We can estimate that in 2016 the Qualifying Offer amount for FA will be $15mm. Cespedes will be 30 years old once his current contract is up, and will most likely be seeking a long term deal.
It is time the A's lock someone in for a long time, less AAV and more years is what's best at this time, because with inflation and a rising Qualifying Offer every year, the value of your money will only get better if you strike now. Players will get more and more expensive going forward, so when you guarantee a great player $15mm in 2018 right now, when 2018 comes around, players barely at an above average level will be getting at least that with a new contract.
I would offer him a 6 year $90mm contract ($15mm AAV). He may be able to fetch more somewhere else, but if he wants to stay with Oakland he would need to take a discount.
Adrian Beltre had comparable stats for the 5 seasons he played in Seattle (2005-2009), averaging .266 and 21 HR/season over that span. His contract ended in 2009 after his age 30 season and Texas signed him as an FA on a 5 yr/80mm with a 6th year vesting option.
The difference between Beltre and Cespedes, is that Beltre is an elite defender at a much more scarce position, thus his value is a bit higher. Being an OF, Cespedes shouldn't be commanding Beltre money. Since we are now 5 years past 2009, we can adjust for inflation and offer a very fair $15mm AAV to Cespedes on a 6 year contract.
There are many things to take into account when offering a contract. I would love to see some realistic breakdowns and good offers from AN. Post away!