Author Topic: Buying vs. Developing Players - New Math  (Read 290 times)

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Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Buying vs. Developing Players - New Math
« Topic Start: December 31, 2009, 01:40:44 PM »
Back to my old habits of spotting something written in Fangraphs, Hardball Times, or the dreaded SoSH and excerpting and linking here.

Standard wisdom among the geek set is that smart teams exploit the relative cost difference between internally developed pre free agency players and established veterans to focus heavily on development as  way to compete with big spenders.  Twinkies, maybe the Marlins and Indians, and in a sense the Rays are teams that have contended using this strategy, and teams like the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Phillies (and the LAA infield) are examples of big money teams that have gotten a lot from internal development lately.

This article notes that, with the market correction the past few years, it may be becoming more viable now to sign cheaper veterans[url] than it is to sign and sift through the numerous failures in a development system. 

If we do not return to that kind of inflation, however, the relative salary difference between young players and veterans will be significantly smaller than it has been in the past. And with a smaller gap in cost, it may be become more viable to build a team with established players.

For instance, this winter, teams have been able to sign useful major league players for a couple million dollars. Kelly Johnson got $2 million from Arizona. Adam Everett got $1.5 million from Detroit. A ton of average-ish infielders signed for $5 or $6 million per year for one or two years.

If that remains true in future years, then it reduces the desire to spend millions on prospects with fractional chances of making the majors. The previous cost differences were great enough to make it worth investing in a lot of prospects, reaping the benefits from the ones who make it, and building a team of good young players to avoid having to pay the market premium. But now, if we continue to see years where near average players can be had for $2 to $3 million per win, then the player development calculation makes less sense.

From a Nats-centric view, this may allow the team to cover for its lack of middle level prospects behind Strasburg, Norris, and Storen, and few others by some smart signings.  We can argue over whether Pudge v. Zaun v. Redmond was really taking advantage of the market (I/M/O, no), but I think Capps, Guardado, Whitesell, Bruntlett etc... represent this type of thinking by Rizzo.