Wednesday Rockpile: No Looking Back Now for Rockies, Gonzalez

Well, it's official. In inking Carlos Gonzalez to a 7 year, $80 million extension, the Rockies have now committed over $36 million per year to the 2015-2017 payrolls to just two players. Colorado will need to fill out the roster with mostly pre-arbitration players to compensate for these huge salaries. For better or worse, the Rockies are placing their bets on the futures of Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki and there's no going back now. Not that it's necessarily such a bad thing to lock in salaries now for young star players at premium positions. In fact, I think that it's swell. It's a great feeling to know that two excellent players will be playing their home games at Coors for several years.

Last week when I broke down the proposed CarGo deal, I was pretty optimistic with my projection of his abilities, writing that he would rack up 38 WAR over the life of the deal. I'm comfortable with that being within the realm of possibility (and to be honest, CarGo's career is too young to rule out an even higher total) given his age and athleticism, but the realistic value CarGo might provide Colorado may be closer to the 30 WAR value that RG has floated. In either case, he'll be a bargain for the Rockies. In fact, even if you assume that inflation doesn't strike player salaries in the next seven years (and it will, mark my words), Gonzalez will only need to be a 3 win player over the life of his deal to be worth the contract. And that's not factoring in the additional revenue that the Tulo/CarGo commitments will bring in from increased attendance and merchandising figures.

Per Troy Renck through Venezuelan journalist Augusto Cardenas, here's the yearly breakdown of the deal:

$1 million in 2011, $5 million in ’12; $7.5 million in ’13, $10.5 million in ’14, $16 million in ’15; $17 million in ’16 and $20 million in ’17

Add in the signing bonus of $3 million that Gonzalez receives, and you've got $80 million. This deal is a little different than the one that was hinted at (and the one I broke down last week) in that the contract is much less backloaded toward his free agent years. This in effect reduces the bargain the Rockies are getting through Gonzalez's arbitration years -- whereas in the previous scenario I had CarGo getting paid $20M over the contract's first four years, he'll be getting $27 million over the period in the actual deal -- but it makes CarGo's bought-out free agency years less expensive.

Over this time period, the Rockies are expecting about 3 wins per season from Gonzalez (on a 20/40/60/80 modified arb scale) as a sort of a break-even point. Thereafter, the expectation for Gonzalez remains between 3 and 4 WAR per season due to the reduced free agent year costs. When you consider that inflation will almost certainly raise the market cost of a win in free agency, the performance expectations the Rockies have for Gonzalez to at least break even on the deal are lowered even further toward 2.5 wins. If Gonzalez performs like a star, as I believe he will, this contract will be a fantastic one for Colorado (and pretty great for the player too).

With this deal CarGo showed that he is dedicated to Denver, Renck writes. It sure look like the feeling is reciprocated by the Rockies.

More links and commentary after the fold.

Off-Topic.

Links and News

Payroll Amounts for Players on the DL in 2010 | FanGraphs Baseball

Jeff Zimmerman at FanGraphs breaks down the payroll data of all 30 MLB teams by the % of payroll that was paid to injured players in 2010. According to Zimmerman, Colorado lost $17.2 million, or 20.4% of their payroll, to the disabled list last year. That's the eighth-highest number in total salary and the fourth-highest percentage lost, confirming the perception many Rockies had that the 2010 team suffered quite a few injuries.

Justin Bopp at Beyond the Boxscore has a super graphic displaying the offensive prowess of CarGo at Coors in 2010 using a colorful spray chart.

Now that John Sickels of Minor League Ball has graded all 30 teams' farm systems, reader dougdirt has compiled his rankings into a nifty chart (explaining the methodology in the post preceding it). According to Sickels, the Rockies have the 10th best system in terms of expected value at $122.5 million. Specifically though, Sickels is bullish on Colorado's pitching prospects, expecting the12 prospects he gave letter grades to provide about $79.4 million in value, which is 6th in MLB.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles reviews the Rockies' offseason. It's pretty humorous, as always, but also paints a pretty accurate picture of the offseason that was for Colorado.

Finally, this 2011 rookie preview from SI might be the most out of touch/inaccurate piece I've ever seen written on a mainstream website. Tyler Matzek in Colorado's rotation this year? Really? And it's not just Matzek. This guy sees 19 year old Martin Perez making Texas' roster and 20 year old Mike Trout patrolling the Angels' outfield this year. 

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