Giant Interest in Gonzalez Unfuzzies Phils SS Picture

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, December 01, 2011 07:25 PM | Comments: 20

Interest in Alex Gonzalez is heating up. Photo: AP

As reported earlier today, the San Francisco Giants are in discussion to sign former Atlanta Braves SS Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez, with a career line of .247/.291/.399, does not have much of a bat but generally possesses an above average glove at short. Gonzalez faced a number of injuries in the middle of the last decade and, entering his age-35 season, may be seeking his last contract.

Using WAR, Gonzalez has been a good but not great SS, averaging 1.8 fWAR per season over the last five years. Gonzalez has seen a steady decrease in walks (the man doesn’t take a pitch), an increase in strikeouts and has put up an alternating Jekyll and Hyde series of power numbers over the last seven seasons. If you believe in patterns, the Jekyll Gonzalez should appear for the Giants next year, followed by the Hyde.

No free agent signing is done in a vacuum and a potential Alex Gonzalez-to-the-Giants move helps clear up a hazy picture at shortstop for the Phillies, for both better and worse reasons.

Here’s how:

1.) It helps establish a market for Jimmy Rollins.

With Alex Gonzalez signing, a number of things happen to Rollins’ status as a free agent. It immediately takes a team highly speculated to be interested in signing Rollins, for both team need and player location preference, out of the running. There had always been question marks as to whether or not the Giants could afford Rollins, but a Gonzalez signing officially takes San Fran off the table.

A Gonzalez signing also sets the very basement for what Rollins should accept. Rollins has been worth 5.45 WAR over the last five seasons, which includes his 6.9 WAR 2007 MVP campaign, but also includes an injury filled 2010 where he posted only 2.5 fWAR.

Assuming that Rollins will play to a level most comparable to 2009-2011 rather than 2007, Rollins was worth about $13.53 million per year from 2009-2011 according to FanGraphs, whereas Gonzalez was worth $7.06 million per season. Do I think Rollins is twice as good a player as Gonzalez? I do, actually.

Rollins is a year and a half younger and has shown less signs of decline. He puts up impressive power numbers for a shortstop and fields better than most. Gonzalez averaged a 5.44 UZR/150 over the past 5 seasons where Rollins posted a 6.0 UZR/150. Rollins is consistently the better defender (though Gonzalez is also excellent with the glove) and posts better offensive numbers. This probably dictates Rollins is worth somewhere between 1.5-2x the contract Gonzalez is and gives him the benefit of the doubt in extra years.

2.) It gives the Phillies more leverage in negotiations with Rollins.

Officially removing a strong suitor from the table could lower Rollins’ pricetag. Or it may have the direct opposite effect…

3.) The removal of Gonzalez from the free-agent pool increases the worth of Rollins to available teams.

The contending teams interested in signing a shortstop, including the Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals and others, could use Gonzalez’s potential signing as motivation to become more aggressive as the market dwindles. This possibility is unlikely, though, knowing the payroll constraints of most of the teams seeking a shortstop. This scenario would more likely immediately benefit a guy like Rafael Furcal right now and only benefit Jimmy Rollins if he is the last shortstop standing with at least two very interested teams pursuing him.

4.) It may make Jimmy Rollins, Rafael Furcal, and others more expensive.

Rafael Furcal is a name talked about since season’s end on sports-talk radio as a viable alternative to replace Rollins. Furcal struggled in 2011 but ended up on the right side of the World Series with the Cardinals. Through his career, Furcal has been the best of the “also-ran” shortstop categories, who always seemed to be on the cusp of breaking through to elite status. Furcal, who is between Gonzalez and Rollins in age, has been worth $10.48 million a season according to FanGraphs over the last five injury-filled seasons. If Furcal could stay healthy, he could reward a team on a shot-in-the-dark gamble but he won’t be cheap. Depending on the terms of a potential Gonzalez deal, Furcal, a superior player to Gonzalez, could see his price increase even more in both money and years and effectively make the Phillies chose between a slight overpay for Rollins and a gigantic overpay for Furcal, which may lead to the doomsday scenario…

5.) The Phillies join the mix for Jose Reyes.

This is by far the least likely of the consequences, however this move could trigger a bizarre Butterfly Effect which sends the free agent shortstop market into a tizzy. If Gonzalez’s deal is lucrative enough, it could raise the prices on Rollins, Furcal, and others making them impossible to sign by teams with midlevel budgets like Milwaukee and Atlanta. Since those teams would be unable or unwilling to sign Reyes anyways, the demand for Reyes remains low and the prices come down across the board. The only speculated offer Reyes has on the table is the 6 year/$90 million offer from the Marlins which works out to $15 million a year, which is likely way less than Reyes is looking for and probably a little more than Rollins would settle for. If the price comes down to $18, $17, $16 etc. million a year for Reyes and the other options (Rollins and Furcal) each want $10+, is it then worth the extra money to sign the clear market favorite? If the Phillies choose not to engage in that possible madness…

6.) Freddy Galvis is the Phillies 2012 Opening Day Shortstop

Hey, it could happen.

Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

About Ian Riccaboni

Ian Riccaboni has written 819 articles on Phillies Nation.

Ian's athletic achievements include getting stuffed by NBA center Aaron Gray in high school and hitting .179 over four years for NYU against D-III, NAIA, JuCo, and NCBA schools. Ian hopes his athletic successes will help him achieve his dream of becoming the underground Bob Uecker.

  • Posts: 5226 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Riccaboni, do you think Jeter’s deal (3 for 51) last year at age 36, has any effect on this years FA SS’s? I’m assuming (dangerous I know) that it does in Jimmy’s mind, especially if he thinks he’s played for less than market value in the past. If I’m reading it correctly, Jeter’s fWAR was 1.5 lower than Rollins last year.

    At that cost, I think they’d have to let him walk.

  • Posts: 439 Ian Riccaboni

    Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

    @Lefty – that’s actually a very reasonable and interesting comparison. I do think that if anything, that number will help the Phillies make a ballpark offer for Jimmy. We’ll see if he’s got a chip on his shoulder for taking the below market deal some years ago.

  • Posts: 0 Chris

    The Cards and Brewers were also interested in Gonzalez. Apparently no one wants to pay the better SS’s this year. They’d rather give 11 mill to Clint Barmes or something. I expect this to be a 4 or 5 mill per year for Gonzalez.
    As much as I think Freddy Galvis would suck in the majors next year with the bat it may be better to pay him nothing then to pay a “stopgap” something like 6-7 mill per year to play and be terrible. That is if we’re really balking at the price of the premier SS.
    Depending on the contracts my choices for SS next year might have to rank as:

    1) Rollins 2) Reyes 3) Galvis 4) Furcal
    Obviously I want the Phils to retain Rollins and I think he’d be pretty cheap compared to Reyes and is less of an injury risk. Reyes may be the younger and better player but he does get injured for long stretches and giving him the large contract he seeks would be an even bigger risk. I think Furcal is better than galvis but he’s going to get way more than what he’s worth. So if the Phils don’t go for Rollins or Reyes it might have to be Galvis.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Why would anyone want the same exact players who lost to the Cardinals?

    In a 5 game series. With 3 of them at home and the greatest pitcher in the world starting games 1 and 5?

    Give him whatever he wants hes earned it.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Afterall who else has an MVP at SS and 1b?

    Only the best
    162 wins this year I predict.

    To go along with those 5 straight titles and all the best players on the same team.

    • Posts: 993 betasigmadeltashag

      Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

      AFW can you please just go away. I know it is WS or bust for you I get that, totally do not agree with it, but we all get it. They won 102 games last year that is a pretty good team. The playoffs are a crap shot. I know ;you are to technical to go to this but if the Philles play that five game series ten tims the Phillies would win 7 maybe 8. So go back to your basement your copy and past coments are just too anoying and I would rather you just go cheer for the Mets like you want to

  • Posts: 0 Psujoe

    Is there a possibility that Madson accepts arbitration? Seems the Phils spent a lot more on Pap than other teams want to spend in years and $$$ on a closer.

    Any guess on what Bell gets?

    When was Howards last contract up. What would he command now 4/$60?

    • Posts: 439 Ian Riccaboni

      Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

      For Madson, I think the chance is only slightly greater than zero he would accept arbitration. I think more so than Papelbon, Joe Nathan’s $7 mil a year deal puts Madson at least more money and he’ll definitely get more than Nathan’s 2 years. Madson made $4.83 mil last year; outside of absolute superstars, it is very rare a player’s salary would increase at the rate Madson’s would should he become a free agent. I don’t think it’s likely he’ll see an offer of 4 years/$44 mil, but he will definitely get a better deal than Nathan.

      As for Bell, I think the glut in the closer market might make it to his best advantage to take his best offer early or risk being a buy-low, one-year guy. Bell made $7.5 million last year and would likely get a raise in arbitration. He was less effective striking players out and got a little luckier than he normally does over his career (.261 BABIP v. career .301). With Bell, if a team doesn’t overpay early for him, I could see him taking $9 mil a year to resign with the Padres.

      Howard’s last contract ended after this past season. He might even have gotten less than $60/4 years and it goes without saying the Phillies likely would prefer to have his salary headed toward pursuing Fielder on a four year and an option deal or really just using that money anywhere else.

    • Posts: 439 Ian Riccaboni

      Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

      Jayson Stark reporting Heath Bell is getting 3/$27 from the Marlins.

      • Posts: 0 Chris

        Wow that’s an awful lot. Good for Bell. I wonder what Madson is going to get now. There are still a good bit of people looking for a closer. Is it possible he ends up getting more than Paps?

  • Posts: 439 Ian Riccaboni

    Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

    MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that bidding for Reyes is down to Mets and Marlins, with the Marlins likely offering between $70-$90 mil over five years and possibly sweetening the pot with a deadline for him to sign. If he goes for $80/5 years, that’s only $16 million a year. Phils fans: would you take Jose Reyes at that price tag? If you’re Ruben Amaro, do you make the call and kick the tires?

    • Posts: 0 Chris

      My concerns about Reyes don’t stem from his talent. I’m concerned about his health and his attitude. I don’t want to have to root for a guy who will pull himself out of a game in order to win the batting title.

      The better question is if Reyes is going for that cheap what would Rollins be getting? 4/ 48?

  • Posts: 993 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    No to Ryes ;he is a cancer and only out for himself I do not want him at five million a year, He will never be on a winning team ;that he is the center of. Keep him away from this ball club

    • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

      I’ve never heard Reyes categorized as “a cancer”, and I listen to a lot of NY radio. His durability is always an issue – but Rollins has the same problem at this point of his career.

  • Posts: 0 Psujoe

    I would think Madson won’t get as much as Bell?

  • Posts: 0 George

    Ridiculous title for this post. “Unfuzzies?”

    The article is clearly just speculation on how a Gonzalez signing might effect Rollins. Six possible outcomes are then explored, one of which–#2–contains a contradiction, and they’re all things that have been brought up in the past. If half a dozen possibilities are “unfuzzy,” I’d hate to read what true “fuzziness is.”

    And Gonzalez hasn’t even been signed yet!

  • Posts: 439 Ian Riccaboni

    Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

    @George – sometimes you write the headline before you finish and it takes a little bit of a different direction than you thought. I’ll work on improving that for you and work on improving my grades for Andrew.

    • Posts: 0 George

      Maybe you write the headline first, but that shouldn’t mean you can’t change it before posting if the article has taken an unforeseen direction. I’m glad, though, that you’re working on it.

      You shouldn’t bother with improving anything for Andrew. If you gave “The Big Contract” a negative one million grade, he’d still complain. He’s got his own ideas, his own ideas, his own ideas, his own ideas…

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    If Gonzalez gets a 4 year contract, I will run naked down Cottman Avenue. No. Way. 2 year deal. He’s too old. @ Lefty and Ian – Derek Jeter is a legend and a Hall of Famer and a Yankee. Jimmy Rollins does not deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence. Jimmy….babe….booby…..3Y30M. Come and get it. Or don’t.

    The Dipsy

    • Posts: 0 George

      He won’t.

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