We interrupt the regularly scheduled blog post to discuss the new happy boy, Jose Quintana. You may have heard or read that Quintana was given a five year contract extension worth at least $21 million, perhaps $26.5 million depending on arbitration eligibility. That is just the first five years too. If Quintana pitches well through the contract, he will only be thirty when it runs out, the White Sox hold two more additional options for 2018 and 2019. That is a potential of seven years with a left-handed pitcher approaching his prime years.
The deal definitely goes against the old Reinsdorfian axiom of not giving pitchers long-term contracts, but that is the business model these days, keep your young players as long as you can. I wonder how the player's union and agents feel about this approach. On one hand, players are getting what they want, very good pay and security. The owners are getting what they want, stability within the organization and more often than not, by the end of the deal a bargain. Also, the teams are getting the best years of the young players and are willing to let them go if productivity has declined.
The biggest loser in the new system is free agency, and by extension player agents and the player's union. The agents probably lose the most as teams aren't bidding against one another nearly as much as they once did. Oh sure, there will still be big contracts being signed, but I think most teams are happy to sit out the bidding wars. If things stay the way they are, as a player approaches free agency, say Quintana in 2020, what will the market be for a 32 year old pitcher? That is providing that after year three or four of the deal, the White Sox and Quintana don't reach another deal. Surely the bidding for a 32 year old pitcher wouldn't be nearly as high as it might have been if Quintana would have hit the market next year at 26.
It's obvious to see how the agents are hurt by this. The long-term contracts take out negotiations and the ratcheting up of the price either from the primary club or creating a bidding war. The bigger the contract, the bigger the payday for the agent. Surely, agents aren't going broke with the new system, but with the way things were when the free agent market was a more common occurrence, the agents were doing better.
The player's union also has to have mixed feelings about these types of contracts. On the one hand, player security and satisfaction are good for the membership of the union. I wonder, however, if the depression of wages, ultimately is a concern? Also with players locking in to these longer term contracts, the players are ultimately getting less of the revenue. What's more the power of free agency is significantly weakened if teams continually lock up players before they test the market. In some ways it is reminiscent of corporate paternalism. The company is thriving and now they have figured out a way limit the amount of profit sharing given to labor, but are also treating labor well by all accounts. It will interesting to see if challenges to contracts start to arise as players decide that the fourth year of deal if far below their actual market value. I wonder if we'll see spring training hold outs?
Back to Jose Quintana and the season ahead. Quintana is the definite number two on the staff, after Chris Sale. He pitched well last year on a bad team. Probably the best thing about Quintana is that so far, he's an innings eater, amassing 200 innings pitched in 2013. He also had a decent number of strikeouts (164) but his walks did rise from 42 to 56 from 2012 to 2013. I was hoping for an improved defense, but so far things are looking bad on that front. Beckham might not start the season, the choices at first base are not so good and third base is still waiting for someone to take over after Robin Ventura.
If Quintana has a 2014 season similar to 2013, there can't be much complaining. If over the course of this new contract Quintana produces similar numbers, or better yet improves, then the White Sox and Rick Hahn have made one of the best moves of 2014.
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