Yankees Editorial: Kluber and Carrasco Provide Framework for Pineda Extension
Two above average right-handed starting pitchers were recently given contract extensions by the Cleveland Indians: Corey Kluber signed a 5 year/$38.5M (with two club options) deal while Carlos Carrasco re-upped for 4 years/$22M (also two club options). These deals provide a glimpse of what a contract extension might look like for another above average starting pitcher in Michael Pineda of the New York Yankees. The comps aren’t perfect but an investigation of the factors surrounding each player is instructive in discerning the risk and reward for both the player and the team when these deals are struck.
Prior Contract Status
Kluber only has 2.074 years of service time according to Cot’s. The Indians still had 4 years of team control.
Carrasco was scheduled to be a free agent after the 2017 season.
Michael Pineda won’t be a free agent until after the 2017 season as he currently has over 3 years of service time. He is making $2.1 million this season in his first year of arbitration.
Performance (career numbers)
Kluber’s peripherals paint him as the best pitcher in this trio: 24.9 K%, 5.7 BB%, 46.3% GB.
Carrasco’s career strikeout (19.6%) and walk (7.0%) numbers are right around average, although he had a big improvement last year. The groundball rate has hovered around 50% for his career.
Pineda outperforms Carrasco while slightly lagging behind Kluber. He misses bats (23.5% K rate) and limits baserunners (6.2% BB rate). He is not a great fit for Yankee Stadium as a right-handed flyball (37.4% groundball rate) pitcher, but the other skills are enough to make Pineda a legit #2.
Kluber, 29, has had minor injuries (sprained finger) but no serious elbow or shoulder problems. He threw a whopping 235.2 innings last year in his Cy Young season.
Carrasco recently turned 28 years old. He had Tommy John Surgery back in 2011 that forced him to miss the entire 2012 season and only throw 46.2 innings in 2013. He has never thrown 200 innings in a season. This discounted his extension value.
The injury history is ugly for Pineda (26 years old) as he had major shoulder problems that forced him to miss the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He has never thrown more than 200 innings in a season.
The lengthy injury history likely makes Pineda more apt to sign an extension than a healthier pitcher. Also, his signing bonus ($35,000) out of the Dominican Republic wasn’t huge so he might want to cash in now before another injury hits. Of course, the Yankees are certainly risk averse to re-signing an oft-injured pitcher. Pineda carries a similar injury history as Carrasco balanced with similar elite rate based performance as Kluber. The team should jump at a 4/$30M (with an option or two) type deal. Any bigger, in years or in dollars, might cause the Yankees to assume too much risk for such a high-beta investment like Pineda.