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Reportedly agreed to a five-year extension with 2B-L Dee Gordon worth $50 million with a vesting option worth $14 million. [1/13]
PECOTA used to hate Ichiro. Okay, the algorithm didn't care one way or another. But Ichiro's projections were always bearish. That, combined with how Ichiro's offensive tendencies deviated from the sabermetric ideal, left you with a highly talented player underrated by the analytical community.
Gordon isn't Ichiro, but there are similarities—in how their games are centered on speed and contact, and in how they're perceived.
Even after his breakout season, Gordon entered 2015 burdened with Alexi Casilla and Luis Gonzalez (not that one) as his top PECOTA comparables. Nonetheless, he slashed and burned his way into a batting title and a new career-best effort, all the while becoming one of nine position players to earn all-star and MVP recognition in each of the last two years. The other eight to do it? Almost the who's who of top ballplayers: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Bautista, Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, Miguel Cabrera, and Jose Altuve.
At this cost, the Marlins don't need Gordon to share accomplishments with the likes of Trout, McCutchen, and Rizzo heading forward—no matter how arbitrary they may be. Rather, Miami just needs Gordon to do what he's done the past two years: leg out infield and bunt hits; turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples; take the extra base half the time or more; and steal a ton of bases at an acceptable efficiency. Add it all together, and you have an above-average ballplayer.
Of course, you might find it odd that the penny-pinching Marlins are the ones handing out this commitment. Gordon isn't the young, no-doubt stud that Giancarlo Stanton or even Christian Yelich seem to be. He was already under team control through his age-30 season, with the thinness of his offensive skill set making him a seemingly risky long-term bet.
But here's the upshot: Gordon is the kind of player who could've earned a handsome sum through the arbitration process, where his surface-level accomplishments—his batting average and awards—would've impressed arbitrators; heck, an educated guess had him bringing home about half the guaranteed money through arbitration. In other words, the Marlins are essentially paying Gordon sub-market prices for two or three free-agent years, depending on how things go.
Maybe Gordon falls off, a la Chone Figgins or Michael Bourn; shy of that outcome, this contract looks like it should be a positive—one that, because this is the Marlins, could make him attractive to other teams for the next few seasons. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, this payday is a nice reward for someone who has busted his tail over the last few years to make the most of his gifts. Everyone should appreciate that, even if they don't appreciate his game.
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