One of the most common reactions to the Scott Feldman deal, which the Astros announced Friday after Ken Rosenthal broke the news, was that Houston could have spent their money on something better. I don't agree with this theory, but that won't stop me from seeing if its true. Let's look at the actual market for starting pitchers right now and evaluate how Feldman's three year, $30 million deal looks.
Here are the starting pitchers who have signed free agent contracts with new teams so far this winter. The data is courtesy of MLB Trade Rumor's Free Agent Tracker and excludes team options that were picked up (a la Jon Lester).
- Josh Johnson 1 year, $8 million
- Scott Kazmir 2 years, $22 million
- Dan Haren 1 year, $10 million
- Tim Hudson 2 year, $23 million
- Phil Hughes 3 year, $24 million
- Tim Lincecum 2 year, $35 million
- Ricky Nolasco 4 year, $49 million
- Jason Vargas 4 year, $32 million
The average value per year of those deals is $10.7 million, meaning Houston got Feldman for slightly less than the market average so far. Taking things a step further and excluding one-year deals, the average annual value for those deals is $11.3 million.
In that context, the Astros made a solid move. They got one of the few starting pitchers on the market who didn't have injury issues, with a track record for success and they got him on a slightly below-market deal. Sure, they might have been able to land Matt Garza in January, but right now, they've locked in a solid contributor on a reasonable deal.
Those numbers are skewed a bit, as they don't include any huge deals like the Greinke contract from last year. They also don't include the big-ticket guys who might sign later like Ubaldo Jimenez, Garza and more. Yet, those deals will only raise the market price, not lower it and make Feldman's deal look better in comparison.
Could the Astros have spent money differently? Well, sure. But, looking at the market, it appears they landed a pretty solid starter for less than the going rate. That should make you feel better about his addition, even if you disagree with the move itself.
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