Sunday, January 20, 2008
The Jeremy Affeldt Signing and Player Turnover
One of the most important strategies for a low/mid-market team GM to embrace is the idea of player turnover. The A's first discovered how to effectively churn players to generate the most value from their assets. Subsequently, the Red Sox stole the A's playbook, supplemented it with a massive revenue stream, and ultimately won two World Series titles. All of which speaks to the fact that embracing a degree of player turnover is an essential strategy in the modern game and Reds may be doing just that with the Jeremy Affeldt signing.
ON THE FIELD
The Reds signed Jeremy Affeldt, who may be best known for getting body slammed during a baseball brawl by the ridiculous Kyle Farnsworth, to a one year deal worth $3M. However, Affeldt is actually a very intriguing left-handed pitcher who has yet to live up to his considerable potential.
Affeldt doesn't have the most impressive statistics, but he does have rather impressive stuff, which is why the Royals had such difficulty in giving up on him. Affeldt is a rare power lefty with very good stuff, which SHOULD translate into much better production than Affeldt has provided in his career. Affeldt features a mid-90s fastball and a very impressive power curveball. It's not the loopy, lollipop variety curveball like Barry Zito throws, but rather a hard, sharp breaking pitch.
For his career, Affeldt sports a 4.74 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, and a 6.4 K/9. In 2007, he was much better for the Rockies, posting a 3.51 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 5.0 BB/9, and a 7.0 K/9. In addition, Affeldt has what the Reds need, as he gets a substantial number of groundballs. For his career, Affeldt has a 1.45 GB/FB ratio and in 2007 it was an even more impressive 1.80.
Of course, Affeldt will likely see his performance in Cincinnati suffer from the shoddy Reds defense. The Rockies had a DER of .702 in 2007, while the Reds were a lackluster .679. The Reds well below average team defense is never going to help out newly acquired pitchers.
However, this signing certainly addresses a need for the Reds, as they need a lefthander in the rotation (though Affeldt may ultimately end up in the bullpen) and they could always use more quality groundball pitchers.
OFF THE FIELD
While this move makes sense from an on-the-field perspective, it also makes tremendous sense from an off-the-field perspective.
Jeremy Affeldt did not qualify as either a type A or B free agent, so the Reds do not have to surrender a compensatory pick for signing him. He is currently only ranked as the 70th best relief pitcher in the NL and only the top 57 relievers warranted competition in 2007.
In order to calculate player compensation, the Elias Sports Bureau considers the player's two previous seasons. So, for Affeldt, his lackluster 2006 and solid 2007 seasons were considered in arriving at his current Elias ranking.
Here's what the his last two seasons have looked like:
So, when Affeldt's one year Reds contract runs out at the end of 2008, Elias will consider Affeldt's 2007 and 2008 seasons to determine his compensation rating. So, given that Affeldt was poor in 2006 and fairly solid in 2007, it's the 2006 season that dragged down his current Elias Ranking. Accordingly, the Reds could be in line for compensatory picks if Affeldt manages to repeat his 2007 production during the 2008 season. If the Reds get decent production out of Affeldt and let him walk for a compensatory draft pick or two, then it'll be a great value generating acquisition for the Reds.
Embracing player turnover is important to maximizing the value of an organization's assets and Affeldt may ultimately generate quite a bit of value for the Reds. In addition, the price is right, as it only cost the Reds only a 1 year commitment and $3M in salary. It has yet to be determined what role Affeldt will fill in 2008, but it's hard not to like this deal for the Reds.
After a couple of years of complete inaction under former GM Dan O'Brien, it's refreshing to see a GM embrace a bit of player turnover, which can have substantial positive impact on the future of the organization.