Tasty Talk: Justify the Contract, Relivers Pt. 1

HELLO Ball Boys and Ball Girls. It's time for Tasty Talk.

Recently, Twenty-seven years of labor peace have ended for MLB. Meaning we have a long cold winter ahead of us. Nearly $1.7 billion was committed to free agents during November, smashing the prior record by 4x. Meaning, it's time for us to play "Justify the Contact."

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You can view all of the previous Justify That Contract rounds by clicking here.

Now, let's jump into Justify that Contact for the RP signed pre-lockout. We will ignore recency bias as most MLB teams don't but look at a few metrics: Age, career WAR, career ERA/FIP, and K/9 and BB/9.


-Raisel Iglesias 4yr/$58mil- LAA

The Angels were not joking when they said they were going hard after pitching, and they cashed out to keep their guy in town. After leading the MLB in Games Finished in 2021 and with an 11th place Cy Young finish. Iglesias is undoubtedly a great arm to have to lock down games, and we have seen how valuable and essential a good bullpen has become in the MLB. The track record is excellent; outside of the 2019 season and his rookie season as an SP, Iglesias has an ERA sub 2.74. Iglesias is 31, holds a career 11WAR, 3.06ERA/3.35FIP, 10.9K/9, and 2.7BB/9. The hometown bias, recency bias earned him nearly $15mil a year. However, this deal is JUSTIFIED.

-Nick Martinez 4yr/$20mil- SDP

Martínez is making his return to the majors for the first time since 2017, though he did pitch for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Martinez, 31, posted a stellar 1.62 ERA with a 24.8 K% and 6.6 BB% for the Hawks in 149 2/3 innings this year. The NPB stats are hard to find, and I did not realize that Marinez was an SP in Japan. Martinez does have an opt-out after this season, and his next three seasons are worth $13mil if he opts out. I like the low-end move for the Padres, who need to lower the budgets in any way possible. The Padres need pitching who can stay healthy and quality depth if they want to compete. This move is JUSTIFIED.

-Andres Munoz 4yr/$7.5mil- Sea Extention

At 22yo, the Mariners locked in one of their young flamethrowers. Munoz, another part acquired in the Nola trade with the Padres. He has shown flashes in limited work and slowed by injuries that wiped out the 2020 season. In his limited work in 2019 out of the Padres pen, he did have a 3.91ERA/3.17FIP with 30K-11BB. The extension is JUSTIFIED.

-Kendall Graveman 3yr/$24mil- CWS

It has been a whirlwind over the last few seasons for Graveman. Going from SP in 2018, missing all of 2019, getting moved to the pen in Seattle and then thriving, being traded to the Astros and now signing a big-money deal with the White Sox to pitch before Kimbriel and Liam Hendricks. Gravemen will now make up one of the best 1-2-3 punches in the AL. Gravemen can also be used as a swingman in a pinch. Gravemen brings tremendous energy to any club that he is on. At 31yo, with a 7.3WAr, 4.15ERA/4.39FIP, 6.3K/9, 2.7BB/9. The price wasn't awful at $8mil a year. I am here for it, Justified!

-Aaron Loup 2yr/$17mil- LAA

The 34yo lefty had himself a truly remarkable season out of the pen for the Met's. Which earned him nearly $9mil a year from the Angels, who landed a fantastic setup man in front of Iglesias. The career numbers for the 34yo have earned him a 7.7WAR, 3.05ERA/3.36FIP, 8.5K/9, 2.6BB. They are coming a season where he posted a 0.95ERA/2.45FIP. I love the move for LAA, which has stiff competition and needs all the pieces they can handle to get Trout to the playoffs, hopefully. The recency bias was too strong here, and the overall career numbers, track record, make this contract- NOT JUSTIFIED.

-Hector Neris 2yr/$17mil- Hou

The long-time NL East mainstay for the Phillies is heading down south to Texas to help the Astros remain in power in the AL West. Neris has been a good closer for the Phillies with brief flashes of excellence. The career numbers for the 32yo have a 7.5WAR, 3.42ERA/3.79FIP, 11.5K/9, 3.9BB/9 has a chance to become a good closer with the Astros once again. The price is a bit high. However, I would say that it's justified for a healthy arm.

-Mark Melancon 2yr/$14mil- Ari

The 36yo isn't looking to compete; he is looking for money. The 4x All-Star is coming off his 4th All-Star appearance. Melancon led the NL in Saves in 2021 with 39. It's hard to believe that no one else wanted Melancon, but a 36yo reliever for $7mil doesn't make many teams want to spend. The D-Backs need all the help they can get to help stay at least kind of competitive for 4th place in the NL West. The 2.79ERA/2.94FIP, 8.2K/9, 2.3BB/9 are numbers that will earn him a spot on the ballot by the end of the line for Melancon. The contract is JUSTIFIED.

-Yimi Garcia 2yr/$11mil- Tor

I don't blame Garcia for getting out of Houston and jumping to the up-and-coming Toronto Blue Jays. After coming out of the NL East, the 31yo did not thrive in the AL West with the Astros. Toronto has excellent staff and coaches to get Garcia on track. At 31yo, he only owns a 1.7WAR, 3.60ERA/4.14FIP, 9.5K/9, and 2.1BB/9. The $5mil isn't awful, but for a guy that gives up a 7.2H/9 and 1.5HR/9, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. However, I'm not GM; I don't read all the sabermetrics reports. I am going to wait and see on this one. Right now, I think it's NOT JUSTIFIED.

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