Monday, November 10, 2014

A high price for innings

Today is the deadline for Francisco Liriano (and 11 other free agents) to accept or decline their $15.3 million qualifying offers.

Liriano is perceived to have a difficult choice. After two strong seasons with Pittsburgh, the lefty might be in position to cash in with a sizable multi-year deal. But ... the qualifying offer means his new team would have to surrender a high draft pick, And Liriano has not been noted for his consistency or predictability.

Here's something else about the former Twin that might give a possible suitor pause: Even while compiling a combined ERA with the Pirates of 3.20 the past two seasons, Liriano has pitched 161 and 162.1 innings. Even the higher figure is barely enough to qualify for the ERA title.

He's been effective, certainly, but he's hardly a durable innings-eating ace.

Assuming that the Pirates expect Liriano to bear roughly the same workload in 2015 as he has in 2013 and '14, they're offering to pay him something in excess of $930,000 $93,000 per inning, or $310,000 $31,000 per out. That doesn't sound like a bargain to me.

Of course, there are other alternatives. If Lirano accepts the qualifying offer, it cuts off his free agency -- but he and the Pirates would still be free to work out a longer-term deal, probably at a lower "average annual value" than the $15.3 million.

Whatever choice Liriano makes, I won't weep for him. I don't see a lot of downside to a one-year deal for $15.3 million. If he turns it down today and finds a weaker market for his services than he expects, that's his fault.

(Update: A reader who is obviously better at basic math than I am kindly notified me of the error in my per-inning and per-out calculations. While I am embarrassed, I still doubt that $15.3 million is, or should be, a market rate for 160 or so innings.)

1 comment:

  1. Ed, you need to take away the last zero from the $930,000 and $310,000. Baseball salaries are out of sight, but they have not (yet) reached that level).