Venable Contract Analysis
The organization bought out the remaining 2 arbitration years for Will Venable. Total dollars: $8.5 million. There are quite a few reasons why this deal is a solid investment for the team.
First, Venable likely is worth more than $4.25 million dollars per season and it is likely arbitrators would agree. To put it in some perspective, there were 2 comparable outfielders that could have gone to arbitration prior to this season. Both asked for more than Venable’s guaranteed number. Here are their 2013 numbers:
Shin-Soo Choo WAR: 3.4 285/415/466
Dexter Fowler WAR: 1.6 263/368/410
Will Venable WAR: 2.9 273/315/503
Choo is the highest paid at $7.35 million, and then comes Fowler at $5.8 (average over 2 years) and then Venable at the previously mentioned $4.25. Venable, it should be noted, is also a significantly better defender than Choo (1.4 dWAR gap). What does all this mean? Venable is almost the same player as Choo, more than Fowler but he is the cheapest of the 3. There’s no doubting Venable would likely have made more had he gone to arbitration. The Padres get value; Venable gets security in the form of his first Major League multi-year contract.
More good news: Venable is durable. In more than 650 MLB games, Venable has made exactly one trip to the disabled list, from July 2 – 21, 2010. During that time he only missed 13 games, therefore it can be argued that he didn’t need to miss nearly 3 weeks; the team just took advantage of the All-Star Break. This brings us to the 3rd and final point….
Venable’s contract is way ahead of that given to Carlos Quentin. I didn’t like the Quentin deal at the time, and I still don’t. It’s not the injury factor, either (although giving an oft-injured, frequently beaned veteran a big contract is not advisable). My problem is the reason why Quentin got the money, which is: because of what he has already done. Quentin was a consistent power hitter for a quartet of years prior to arriving in San Diego. During that time he averaged nearly 27 home runs per year and consistently posted OPS numbers over .800 (with one outlier).
Quentin got his contract because of an idea. That idea being: pitchers are afraid of this guy, therefore we need to bat him clean-up. But a closer look at the numbers tells a different story. Again, for comparison, let’s look at Quentin side-by-side with Venable during Q’s time here (2012-2013):
Quentin WAR: 3.6 29 HR
Venable WAR: 5.2 29 HR (and counting)
And now, their salaries next year:
And yes, supply and demand, Quentin earned free agency and Venable had not… that’s all true. But the numbers are staggering when put side by side. Venable has been a better player (and played much better defense) and will still make less than half the Quentin contract. Just something to consider before you make those “4 million dollars for a 4th outfielder” comments.
And, I would finally like mention one encouraging idea. Venable did not play much baseball in high school and college. He was a late bloomer, came to the big club in his mid-20’s. There is a lot of tread left on those tires. It can be argued Venable’s arrow is still pointing up. He may very well break out next year. Maybe he will wind up being the clean-up hitter in 2014? Just a thought. But a great contract for the team. And congratulations to Will Venable on the guaranteed coin, and here’s hoping for even more (production and dollars) in the future.