First Pitch: How Much Would Super Two Cost if a Player is Extended?

I’ve written in the last few weeks about the cost of Super Two status, which can amount to an extra $10-15 M for a potential impact player like Gregory Polanco. This additional cost is a big factor in why pretty much every team, including the Pirates, will hold back a top prospect until the Super Two deadline passes. No team wants to pay an additional $10-15 M over the long-run, just for an extra six weeks of performance in the short-term.

One of the counter-arguments I’ve been receiving is that the cost of Super Two status can be neutralized by signing a player to an extension. The idea is that the cost of Super Two would be much lower, and thus would make more sense in the balance between short-term production and long-term cost. I wanted to get an idea of what that cost would be, so I looked at a few of the recent extensions signed around baseball. There weren’t many players who were projected to be Super Two players, or who had Super Two clauses in their deals. The three players below are the examples I found.

Chris Archer – His extension with the Rays was a guaranteed $25.5 M, and was based on him being a Super Two player. If he isn’t a Super Two player, the value of the deal drops to $20 M. COST OF SUPER TWO: $5.5 M.

Sean Doolittle – The Athletics extended Doolittle to a five-year, $10.5 M deal. The deal includes potential increases if Doolittle is a Super Two player at the end of the year. The total cost of the increases is $3.25 M over four years. COST OF SUPER TWO: $3.25 M.

Jose Quintana – He signed a five-year, $21 M deal, and just like Doolittle, his salary increases over the span of four years if he is Super Two eligible. In this case, the increases amount to $5.5 M, which is the same as Archer. COST OF SUPER TWO: $5.5 M.

It’s a small sample of deals. Then again, when you’re talking about guys who have signed an extension with less than two years of service time, who could be eligible for Super Two status, then a small sample is expected.

I think a mistake here is focusing on the actual dollar amounts. You can’t say that the cost of Super Two in an extension is $5.5 M, just because that’s the cost for Archer and Quintana. That would be the same as saying the cost of a five-year extension (before Super Two) is $20-21 M, because that’s what those two players received. The $10-15 M price for Super Two, when factoring year-to-year costs, is based on impact players, not every player who could be a Super Two player. Thus, we need to find a way to make the above numbers applicable for all types of players.

One thing that stands out is the percentage increase for each player. Super Two status increases the deal for Archer by 27.5%. The increase for Quintana is 26.2%. The increase for Doolittle is 31%. The average increase is 27.7%. With this percentage, we can get an idea of what Super Two would cost for any player, just by projecting their extension without Super Two.

Of course, predicting what a player could receive in an extension can be difficult. You have to know when that extension takes place, and the performance of a player at the time of the extension.

Ideally, you’d like to see Polanco sign an Evan Longoria type deal right after he comes up. However, the list of players who have signed an extension that early in their careers is limited to Longoria. Only three other players since 2008 have signed an extension with less than one year of service time. All of those extensions came either during the off-season, or during the season after the player arrived. The fact that so few players have signed extensions that early means that you probably shouldn’t expect the Pirates and Polanco to reach a deal. That’s not saying they won’t reach a deal that early, or that they can’t reach a deal that early. But if your justification for calling Polanco up is that the team could immediately sign him to an extension, then that justification is based on something that only one player has done.

If Polanco does come up right away, have immediate success, and get an immediate extension, I’d estimate the guaranteed cost to be about $23 M. That’s based on the money that Andrew McCutchen received for his 0-6 years. That might be a little high, but then again, Longoria got $17.5 M for six years back in 2008, so it’s not absurd that Polanco could see a $5.5 M increase six years later. That $23 M price tag, when we use the 27.7% rate for Super Two, means that the cost of Super Two for Polanco would be $6.4 M.

That’s much less than the $10-15 M range that is estimate for year-to-year players. There’s a reason for this, and the reason is that the team is taking on a huge amount of risk, signing a player with no experience, with his future value based entirely on projection and very little proof that he can handle the majors. This is probably a big part of why a lot of teams don’t sign these deals so early. From the player side, you probably don’t see deals this early, because the player will want some time to raise his value and get a bigger payday.

You can see how one extra year can make a big impact. Most of the recent players who have signed an extension with service time between one and two years have signed for $30-35 M. That includes Starling Marte, who signed a six-year, $31 M deal. If Polanco signed right away, then an optimistic projection has him receiving $23 M guaranteed. If he signs after one and a half years in the majors, then the standard projection has him getting an extra $10 M guaranteed. As we saw with Jedd Gyorko, players are even getting that amount if their value is still based more on projection than results.

I don’t want to compare Polanco’s potential deal to Marte, because I think Polanco could have more value than Marte. Instead, I’ll use Paul Goldschmidt, who received $35 M guaranteed. At that price, the 27.7% Super Two increase would be $9.7 M. That’s still a discount if you project the Super Two increase to be closer to $15 M, but it’s not a big discount if you project Super Two to be closer to $10 M.

If the Pirates called Polanco up early, with the intention of extending him early to reduce the costs, they wouldn’t see much of a savings. They’d see bigger savings if they extended Polanco with less than one year of service time, but that’s not something they can really bank on, since very few extensions happen during this time period. The normal period for an extension takes place with more than one year of service time, and less than two years. Realistically, that’s what the Pirates can hope for, and if Polanco works out as expected, then the cost of Super Two in an extension will probably come out to be a little less than $10 M. That’s not a huge discount over the year-to-year price, and is still a high cost for one extra month of Polanco in the short-term.

 

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: Tyler Glasnow Strikes Out Six in Five Shutout Innings in Debut

**Minor League Schedule: Jeff Locke Takes Mound In Indianapolis

**Draft Prospect Watch: Injuries Hit Two Big College Arms

**Jason Grilli Placed on the Disabled List

**Kyle McPherson Suffers Setback, Out Until 2015

**Prospect Links: Polanco the Next Big Thing, McGuire Scouting Report

**Prospect Highlights: Home Runs From Tony Sanchez and Stetson Allie

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • sweetleb

    what is the cost of ike davis? vs the cost of lambo for this yr and the next 2 yrs ? lambo would cost 2.0 million give or take a couple of hundred thousand, davis maybe 16.5 million if the pirates pay market arb prices for a player like davis. So huntington went and made a trade for ike davis and his 3 yrs of control for a cost of 12.5 – 16.5 dollars for a player who might not be as good as lambo for cost difference of 10.5- 14.5 million dollars. wouldn’t the pirates be in better shape with lambo / polanco than snider/ davis.

    • lonleylibertarian

      Yes, and yes – finally another voice of reason ;-)

    • IC Bob

      Lets stop it with Lambo. If he was any good he would be the starting 1B for the Bucs right now. Its not like anyone was in front of him. The guy is a bad 1B and he hasn’t hit a HR since August of last year (over 200 ABs). The Pirate brass looks at Lambo every day. They know hat thy have there and they played Ishikawa over him. As for Polonco it hardly matters the cost because the Bucs are not paying it. We can debate whether thats right or wrong but the management has been consistent in how they handle these situations and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

      • lonleylibertarian

        Well he may not be “any good” – but how much “good” are the two stiffs that are now manning the position?

      • Frank Micko

        The love affair with home runs is why this fan base wouldn’t know a winning offense if it was staying at their house. There are people here that still think Garrett Jones was good because he hit home runs. I’ll take more guys whose OBP is over .350 and know how to hit with runners on base please. Lambo has retooled his approach and is mashing to all fields. Will it be done here. IDK, but given what we have starting and particularly on the bench, we’ll see him in Pittsburgh sooner than later.

    • Cato the Elder

      wouldn’t the pirates be in better shape with lambo / polanco than snider/ davis.

      Maybe. But still you are talking about a month or two, because it currently stands to reason that the Pirates will have both Davis and Polanco before long with Lambo still being a cheap option going forward – they don’t have to extend Davis, or could use Lambo as a plan B to negotiate a better deal with Ike.

  • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

    I wish folks would quit trying to rush the kid. He IS hitting EXTREMELY well, but I’d like to see him do it over a longer period (after some pitchers have time to adjust to him). YES, we need an offensive boost, but not at a possible detriment to his development.
    If they did bring him up, what do you do with who is left (Snider /Tabata)? Just cut bait? Lowest bidder? That’d be a waste of an mlb asset.
    I wish Lambo would have been given a shot, but it was obvious he was pressing waaaay too much, and still is struggling in the hr dept. As long as the ptbnl is not too heavy, I’ve got no prob getting Ike (and I was never a huge fan). The numbers line up with Gabby and the platoon.
    I like how we’ve been patient for over 20 years, but another month and a half is just asking too much.

    • lonleylibertarian

      Don’t think it was patience over 20 years – more like incompetence. Fans deserve the best 25 – and the best starting 8 – which would include Polanco right now – and for a player to be a MLB “asset” – they have to be worth something to someone – Tabata, Snider and probably Gabby are not worth even a third tier prospect.

      • moose7195

        The fans actually don’t deserve the best 25, especially because the fans don’t know who the best 25 is or how to maintain the best 25 as long as possible. So how do you know Polanco is part of that best 8? Of course, he’s killing those amazing grocery baggers in AAA, but believe it or not, that doesn’t guarantee he’s gonna come up and hit 400 here

        • johndw28

          Strawman argument- the question isn’t whether he can hit 400 here- the question(as far as play in right field is concerned) is whether he can put up an OPS better than say… 625 and improve our defense.

          • Doc

            @ a cost of 10 million dollars for 7 weeks?

            • lonleylibertarian

              I love this circular argument – we can’t bring him up because it will cost a gazillion dollars – but the only way it costs a gazzion is if he produces at a 3+ WAR level – or better. 100 at bats into the season we have a combined BA of about .235 from the RF platoon…

              I am still waiting for someone to tell me that this is better than putting Polanco out there every day and trying to salvage a season.

              Then again – I may flip sides on this soon – just saw Martin got put on the DL – maybe the season is kaput already ;-(

              • moose7195

                I believe the WAR thing will only matter 2 years from now. Hard to see a way he doesn’t produce at least that much 2 years from now. So its actually a question as to whether you’d pay a gazillion dollars for an excellent level of production through 4 years of arb. or about 500K as well as a few million less for the next 3 years of arbitration. But that’s okay, money doesn’t matter as long as it isn’t yours right?

                One player wont save or lose the season. It’s still a team game. So bringing up Polanco early is arbitrary to the 2014 season because he probably wont produce massively more than Snider/Tabata

                • Doc

                  My point is using WAR as a real stat, his WAR this season is likely no greater than 5 above what Snider would do. Over two months it may be only one or two` TOPS>
                  Polanco is a long term answer. For the 2 months between now and when he comes up, he STATISTICLY only improves them by one or 2 wins. Not enough to warrant him coming up and costing them 10 million over the next 6 years

                  • moose7195

                    WAR itself isn’t a real stat though. Its a useful and fun number, but I don’t think something can be a stat if three different groups have three different ways of measuring it. I certainly agree wholeheartedly with the logic. The short-term gain of an extra month+ of Polanco instead of Snider isn’t worth the financial loss it would cost. Especially when we don’t know if Polanco will actually outplay Snider for that month+.

          • moose7195

            I was being hyperbolic, but even an extra month+ of him hitting .400 wouldn’t be worth 10-15M. I don’t expect him to hit 400, but having an OPS of 626 wouldn’t make much of a difference in the teams record. So why waste the resources to rush him up here

      • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

        You are right. All three are worthless. We should just cut them, eat their salaries, bring up GP so that we can start his clock ASAP. Another smart move would be to cut Ike too, bring Lambo up so he can be the full time 1B. I’d probably bring up Glasnow too. He’s gotta be better than Volquez.

        I agree with you 100 million % that GP is one of the top 25/8 like you suggest. But you still have investments that need managed. You cannot voluntarily crush the value of them. Just because I have a Ferrari in the garage doesn’t mean I’m gonna go abandon my SUV by the side of the road.

        Also, feel free to insert you own lovely car/brand analogies to suit your version of the story.

        • lonleylibertarian

          So you have a Subaru Tribecca, a Ford Bronco and a Pontiac Azteca taking up space in your garage – you think they are worth $4,000, $2,500 and $2,000 respectively and put them up on Craig’s list – problem is the best offer you have after 3 months is from the junkyard – They will haul all three away for free. What do you do – it will cost you over $4,000 a year to tag, maintain and insure all three BTW.

  • bucsws2014

    What’s the cost to the Pirates for falling out of contention by May?

    Would Polanco on his own have made a difference? I’d suggest in at least three games he could’ve been the deciding factor if he were batting in the two hole.

    Keep in mind, both 1 & 2 are well below .700 OPS right now. That’s not acceptable. And this is the same FO who gave Marte what IMO was an undeserved extension.

    • johndw28

      Absolutely agree on difference simply having a competent #2 in lineup could have made. I don’t know how many people here are looking at Polanco’s stat line as opposed to actually watching him. I’ve watched as many Dominican games as possible and almost all his Indy games. I think the kid is more than ready. I’m not saying he won’t have transition struggles or will have a 900 OPS but I think he will be MUCH better than Snider/Tabata. People keep saying he’s only had barely 100 AAA at bats. Please watch those at bats. This kid isn’t your average prospect. How many AAA at bats did Puig, Heyward, or Harper have? I’m not expecting him to duplicate their success. I AM expecting him to outperform Snider/Tabata.

    • Douglas Byrd

      This is what I’ve been saying. What’s the value of a few wins in April? We don’t know. But as it is now, we are digging a deep hole in a very good division. If we miss the playoffs by a few games, that 5-10 million will look cheap. How much extra cash is made by making the playoffs- let alone a deep run? Much more than 5 million.

  • dallen_71

    If this team continues to struggle, attendance will drop. If they are not in a pennant race in August, Steelers pre-season football will be the local sports fans focus. Tabata will make $8.5MM in the next 2 years. If they dump Tabata’s salary, would they not be ahead, provided attendance would increase by bringing Polanco up now? I feel there are more factors than just Polanco’s projected cost from Super Two.

    • Doc

      Bad news, as good as Polanco is, he can only bat in turn and play one position at a time. This team has issues with starting pitching, closer, infield defensive miscues, poor hitting at short, third and first.

      I REALLY want to see Polanco. But to think he saves the season in the 8 weeks between now and super two seems much. And I believe he IS the real deal, even after only 100 AAA ab’s.

      • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

        Klaw mentioned in his chat the other day that folks need to “quit viewing Polanco as a lineup Messiah.” Klaw thinks he will be a stud, and will likely push for an MVP one day. But that day was not yesterday, nor is it tomorrow.
        He WILL be a great contributor, maybe even a nice energy bolt to a stagnant lineup. But not for a few more weeks.

  • Doc

    Robs…The way I read the article it is 10 million. I think the the five is if he is bought out very early, which if I was Polanco’s agent, i would not reccommend he do.

    10 million is a lot to this organization. It is 10 million dollars for essentially 7 weeks.( The difference between now and super two. date.) As this team is NOT a playoff team even with Polanco, I don’t see how it can be argued that he is worth 10 million in future costs for 7 weeks of work

    ( BTW… in NO way do I think he will be worth more than 3 wins in those 7 weeks over what Snider gives you. I am sure someone smarter than me in WAR can calculate this)

  • Pghfan987

    “Ideally, you’d like to see Polanco sign an Evan Longoria type deal right
    after he comes up. However, the list of players who have signed an
    extension that early in their careers is limited to Longoria.”

    There’s a reason why the Rays are the team who are the only ones to have a done a deal like this. They are smarter and poorer than the average team. Just like the Pirates.

    Promote Polanco today, extend him tomorrow.

    • moose7195

      Maybe there is also a reason why the 29 other teams in the league don’t do what the Rays did with Longoria. And if the Longoria move is such a stroke of genius, then why haven’t they done a deal like that since? More than likely the Rays got lucky with an extremely risky move that really no other team should do, especially the poorer teams. If you promote Polanco today, extend him tomorrow, and he gets hurt the next day, then you may have just flushed a decent chunk of money down the drain. The metaphor also works if he struggles for an extended period of time, like Pedro Alvarez.

      And why would Polanco sign such a deal? Do you think only the Pirates, fans, and media know how good this kid is while he and his agent remain blissfully unaware? It makes too much sense for Polanco to wait a year or two while playing well because of the extra money he can earn.

      • Pghfan987

        Because the Rays FO >>>> the rest of baseball. Do you understand what a “stroke of genius” is?

        • moose7195

          Well, I wrote the sentence so I think I know what the words mean. Maybe you didn’t because you didn’t answer the question. I’m saying that 29 teams don’t ever do it, and the one team that did it only tried it once. If this idea is so intelligent and makes so much sense, then wouldn’t the Rays do it with all of their top prospects? I would think its because even the top prospects can struggle and become busts, so guaranteeing them money and years of work with no safe way of sending them back to AAA if they struggle is a terrible risk, ESPECIALLY when the prospect has ZERO MLB experience. You’re offering executive level compensation to an entry level employee that hasn’t even started the job yet. Polanco may just be the real deal, and the risks may be worth it, but the type of deal can be detrimental to the team as well if he isn’t a incredible as you think.

          • Pghfan987

            We agree the Longo contract is unique. You think it’s ironic that a small market team is the one that made this deal. I don’t.

            • moose7195

              Well yes, I do think its ironic. Small market teams cannot afford to tie up future money in a player that is as big a risk Longo was at that time. Small market teams usually look for more of a track record when it comes time to sign players, they cannot afford to miss on players which is why they normally let their good young players play for cheap on their rookie deals for as long as it makes sense before deciding to cut them loose or extending them. Tying them up like that with no track record is a rather big market team thing to do.

      • Pghfan987

        Also, the right player hasn’t come along.

        Polanco is that player, imo.

        • Pghfan987

          Insert a bunch of stuff about K rates here.

  • Pghfan987

    Is a 1-0 loss the kind of game that Polanco could have made a difference in? Just wondering what one of those games would look like …

  • piraddict

    Looking at the 2014 individual player performances to date I grade them as follows:
    Exceeding expectations: Volquez, Morris, Cumpton
    At expectations: Cutch, Melancon, Watson, Cole, Pimental
    Below expectations: Everyone else.
    You couldn’t add Roberto Clemente at his prime in RF on this team and expect to have moved the needle more than a game or maybe two. As much as I believe in Polanco I hope they don’t bring him up until mid June to save the money. Remember that the money they save that way will be available to be spent on another player in another circumstance in the future.
    But when they do bring him up the only way that the team’s overall performance improves is if we start to see at or above expectations type performance from Marte, Alvarez, Mercer, Walker, Davis/Sanchez, Martin/Stewart, Liriano, Morton, Wandy(hopefully permanently replaced by Cumpton), Grilli, Wilson, Snyder, Harrison, Barmes, Gomez etc.
    The improvement to be gained from the replacement of Snyder/Tabata with Polanco will not enable the Pirates to make the playoffs if the balance of the team continues to underperform. And if the rest of the team were performing at or above expectations they would make the playoffs without Polance ala 2013.

    • Doc

      I think Walker is doing OK.I think Cutch overall is also doing just OK.
      your point is well made

      • piraddict

        Walker is doing okay, but my expectations from him are higher than where he is at. I see him as a .270/.330/.500/.830 kind of guy. Hope he gets there this year!

  • piraddict

    To put the playoff chances of the present Pirates in perspective consider the number of productive hitters necessary for a team to make the Playoffs:
    Team OPS>.900 OPS>.800 OPS>.750
    2013 Red Sox 1 5 4
    2013 Cardinals 0 6 0
    2013 Pirates 1 1 6
    2014 Pirates 1 0 2
    None of us suffers over this more than Cutch does I am sure.

    • piraddict

      Table didn’t translate well, sorry!

      • ecbucs

        one question that we can’t answer is how ready is Polanco? Are the Bucs only keeping him down for money? If they bring him up right when he is no longer Super 2 eligible then the answer is he was in Indy for money reasons. I don’t see any thing wrong with bringing him up now and hope he performs well then the team is improved. Otherwise the team may need to make another deal to improve the offense and that will have a cost too. With all the injuries to pitching staff there is a good chance the team will need to deal for pitching this season too (unless it totally drops out of contention). For revenue purposes it is important for team to at least look like it can contend (get to withing 5 games of first and stay there a while) or whatever the team projected for ticket sales is going to need to be dropped. Again, I can see keeping Polanco at Indy if he truly has big things to work on but if it is just money that is not a good reason because of the poor performance at major league level. A first or second place team can be patient, one in danger of dropping from contention can’t be patient.

        • piraddict

          Three weeks of raking at AAA isn’t a large enough sample size to know if he is ready. I would rather see him go into a slump and break out of it before promoting him. He struggled a bit when he jumped from Bradenton to Altoona last year. Would it be a surprise if he struggled a bit when he jumps from AAA to the Pirates? Alvarez was promoted too soon and it screwed him up for a few years, maybe he hasn’t recovered yet. I would rather be too slow with Polanco than too fast. Players mature at their own rate. Not everyone is a Trout who excels right away.

          • ecbucs

            I’m saying the Bucs should call him up if they think he is ready. If they don’t think he is ready leave him at Indy. Every player is different. Jason Kendall never played at AAA. You don’t know that Polanco isn’t a Trout (although it is unlikely). We don’t know why the PIrates are keeping him down and I’m saying if the only reason they are keeping him down is money then that is a mistake.

  • Macchamp74

    If he signs 5/6 year contract, that 10 million works out to less than 2 million a year.
    (1 Clint Barmes)
    Am I missing something that it is not a financial burden to a major league team?

    • moose7195

      You’re missing the actual salary increase that contract gives him compared to the very, very team friendly rookie contract he’s on now. The 10M you reference should go away entirely because I believe that is all from arbitration, but you are now paying pretty good money to a player that has never seen a major league pitch