The Jeremy Affeldt Extension
It was reported last night that the Giants locked lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt up to one year extension with an option for another. The deal gives him more money this season and $5 million in 2011 should the Giants exercise his option. In all, the Giants get a huge discount on an elite late-inning arm. On the open market, solid arms like Affeldt are paid for at a premium (see Brandon Lyon), so this deal represents a smart deal on the part of the front office.
In 2009, Affeldt was the most important member of the bullpen not named Brian Wilson. At the same time, he was also insanely lucky, relying on an unrepeatable groundball rate and a BABIP of .244. His K/9 took a noticeable drop while his BB/9 almost doubled from 2008, so there are some definite red flags that point to regression in 2010.
With that said, his regression won’t necessarily make him terrible. In terms of his pitch values, his fastball graded out at a 12.1 in 2010 (per Fangraphs), compared to a -4.9 in 2008. His curveball continued to be equally effective, grading out just above 6 for the third year in a row. The big key going into 2010 will be commanding his repertoire if he wants to approach the success he saw last season.
When looking at the money from this deal, it’s hard not to like this deal. The Giants get a premium reliever at discount price when you look at what guys are getting on the open market in comparison. In addition, he gives the Giants another year to develop some home-grown arms that will save money on the free agent market in the future. Guys who can help out down the road like Waldis Joaquin, Henry Sosa, Jason Stoffel, etc. are given another year to develop in the minors instead of getting moved up aggressively into late-inning roles they might not be able to handle yet.
Expect a regression from the newly re-signed Affeldt, but not to levels that would make him ineffective. He’ll still be the go-to 8th inning guy, and he’ll still do a damn fine job. If he gets back in the strike zone and kicks up that K/9 rate it might make up for the increase in BABIP that he’s going to see in 2010, so the regression may not be quite as painful to witness. Simply, it’s a good move with a low risk and good potential for upside.
Coming up next is Part 3 in the “What to Expect” series…
Photo used with expression permission of Joseph Pun and AZGiants.com