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.
-Brooks Ralley 2yr/$10mil- TB
How TB is this move. They are taking a 33yo arm with a career -1.2WAR, 5.62ERA/4.45FIP, 10.2K/9, and 3.4BB/9. I had to dig a little deeper here to see what the Rays saw in wanting to give Ralley $5mil a year. They found a guy who holds batters to a .232/.304/.362 slash. A guy who has a 31.7K%. I got to give it to the Rays here when we look a little deeper past the standard metrics. The contract is Justified.
-Kirby Yates 2yr/$8.25mil- Atl
Can Yates stay healthy? At 34yo and battling injuries for almost two seasons now, I would love to see a strong rebound with the world series champ who is getting a guy who did lead the AL in SV in 2019 at 32yo. The price is excellent at just over $4mil to get a back-end piece: the career 4.5WAR, 3.54ERA/3.39FIP, 12.8K/9, and 3.0BB/9. I love the move and if the health is there. This is contract justifies itself.
-Luis Garcia 2yr/$7mil- SD
The Padres got another cheap pen piece in Garcia. The 34yo owns a 2.3WAR, 4.16ERA/4.17FIP, 8.4K/9, 4.5BB/9. Now pitching in front of an entire gold glove defense in STL does help a guy limit batters to a .202/.252/.298 and .256BAbip. Regardless of circumstances, the defense is also great in SD, and if he can keep those numbers up and limit HR to the same career 2.2% and maintain the career-best 25.2%K rate and 5.9%BB, the Padres got themselves a deal! The contract is justified!
-Corey Knebel 1yr/$10mil- Phi
The 30 is coming into Philly to upgrade over the departed Hector Nerris. A career of 3.23ERA/3.27FIP, 12.6K/9, and 4.0BB/9 show that he is excellent when he is on; when he is off, it is not great. Knebel was used as a swingman in LA with the Dodgers in 2021, which is a massive advantage to the Phillies. Knebel has shown that he can be the best in the MLB out of the pen as he has held batter to .301OBP over his career. The Phillies needed a guy who could play for them and lock down the 9th inning, which they did not have before. With Knebel, an NL Wildcard is within reach. Justified!
-Daniel Hudson 1yr/$7mil- LAD
The 34yo journeyman reliever finds himself back with the Dodgers after spending the 2018 season. The Dodgers, much like the Padres, have to avoid the luxury tax and still put a team that can win 100 games on the field. With a career 6.6WAR, 3.86ERA/3.78FIP, 8.5K/9 and 2.9BB/9 and an impressive 1.0HR/9. Hudson doesn't allow many guys on base as he owns a career .307OBP. Big fan of the move and money, and I will JUSTIFY this contract.
-Robert Suarez 1yr/$mil -SD
The Venezuela native has spent five seasons pitching in Japan's NPB. Suarez has saved 67 games over the previous two seasons for the Hanshin Tigers. Suárez dominated to the tune of a 1.16 ERA across 62 1/3 frames. His peripherals were equally impressive, as the righty struck out 25.3% of opposing hitters against a minuscule 3.5% walk percentage. The deal does contain a 2023 option. I'm a fan of the deal and think it's a great budget sign for the Padres. Justified!
-Daniel Bard 1yr/$4.4mil- Col
The 36yo vet who has been working his way back after being out of the MLB from 2014-2020 probably took the only deal he would get with the most money. After two seasons in Colorado, he has a 4.78ERA/4.11FIP with a 10.7K/9 and 4.6BB/9. Bard also doesn't do great ash. He had a .330 and .370 OBP, and the MLB average is .321. I think that maybe was here is a bunch of money, and we outbid ourselves. Who knows. Absolutely, NOT JUSTIFIED.