Cameron Maybin Extension Analysis

The San Diego Padres have given center fielder Cameron Maybin a five-year, $25 million contract extension, and the former Florida Marlins player will turn 25 on Opening Day. Both sides were discussing a contract extension for some time, but they finally came to an agreement on one yesterday. Cameron Maybin will make just $500K next season, and the contract will escalate each season from $3 million in 2013 to $5 million, $7 million, $8 million, and $9 million. There is an option for a sixth year that is worth between $7 million and $8 million and comes with a $1 million buyout.

At the price of $5 million per year, the Padres believe that Cameron Maybin will average out to about 1.1 WAR in value per season. While Maybin was worth just 0.7 WAR in 2010, he broke out in a big way last season with a 4.7 WAR. He played incredible defense, was of huge value on the bases (4o steals), and he had a career high 112 wRC+. Once regarded as a top prospect, Maybin fell out of favor in the baseball world and was projected in a poor light. He flourished last season in his first year in San Diego, and there is no doubt that Cameron Maybin is no longer a bust.

September 26, 2011; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin (24) makes a diving catch to end the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Projection Systems for Cameron Maybin using Simple WAR Calculator

Fans: 3.9 WAR, 105 wRC+

Simple Marcel: 2.8 WAR, 97 wRC+

ZiPS: 3 WAR, 97 wRC+

Steamer: 3.6 WAR, 104 wRC+

Bill James: 3.7 WAR, 113 wRC+

RotoChamp: 3.3 WAR, 102 wRC+

If all six projection systems are averaged out, then the projected WAR and wRC+ totals for Cameron Maybin in 2012 are 3.4 WAR and 103 wRC+. Maybin is projected to be great in the field and on the bases but only slightly above average with the stick. The projection systems are actually quite spread apart, but the general consensus is that he is worth around that much.

The problem is that Maybin is getting paid on one huge year, but he has never been worth over 1 WAR in any other season in his career. It is time to see whether or not Maybin’s improvement is a fluke, because the amount of money per year given to Maybin is meager in the beginning. Most center fielders peak around the age of 27 or 28, so the Padres are getting him locked up during the best years of his career.

Maybin’s power and BABIP totals were around the same as his career values, but he cut down on his strikeouts to the point where they didn’t handicap him as much. This led to a slight increase in OBP and overall numbers, but most of his value was from positional adjustment, park adjustment, and defense/baserunning. Unfortunately, the Simple WAR Calculator does not adjust for park, so Cameron Maybin is worth closer to 4 WAR than 3 WAR (perhaps 3.7 WAR).

Contractual Value for Cameron Maybin

2012, age 25: $500,000 0.1 WAR

2013, 26: $3 million 0.7 WAR

2014, 27: $5 million 1.1 WAR

2015, 28: $7 million 1.6 WAR

2016, 29: $8 million 1.8 WAR

2017, 30: $9 million 2 WAR

Before looking at the predicted WAR output for Cameron Maybin over the course of the extension, it is important to take a look at the plate discipline stats and the batted ball stats. As expected, Maybin’s batted ball statistics did not change, save for a few more grounders. He didn’t even change his approach at the plate, which leads me to believe that the projections are off and Maybin isn’t as good of a hitter as 2011 made him out to be.

The projection provided by ZiPS is the most accurate, because it rates him as a slightly below-average hitter and a 3 WAR player overall. This is Maybin’s true value, because his resurgence last season wasn’t a total fluke. However, he didn’t legitimately improve dramatically from 2010 to 2011, which leads me to believe that he Padres feel the same way. They gave him five years, because Maybin is young and has upside at center. What if he truly is a 3.5-4 WAR player like the fans on FanGraphs say he is? This is a a good risk taken by the Padres when making this lengthy contract, due to Maybin’s youth and ability. $5 million per year isn’t much for a good center fielder, and it is worth only a little more than one win per season. I am inclined to believe that Maybin is worth 2-3 WAR and isn’t as good as his 2011 season projection.

Cameron Maybin Projected Value

2012: 2.5 WAR, $11.2 million ($11.2)

2013: 2.5 WAR, $11.2 million ($22.4)

2014: 3 WAR, $13.5 million ($35.9)

2015: 2.5 WAR, $11.3 million ($47.2)

2016: 2 WAR, $9 million ($56.2)

2017: 1.5 WAR, $6.8 million ($63)

As you can see, the San Diego Padres are getting the best seasons out of Cameron Maybin, and the five-year contract stops just before Maybin’s decline. This was a savvy move by the Padres, since Maybin should be getting $63 million over five years ($12.6 million). The Padres have saved $38 million by making this deal, and they have a solid center fielder who will help them out over the next handful of seasons. Cameron Maybin wanted a no-trade clause, but he will be underpaid over the prime years of his career instead. Either that, or he traded money for job security and is worried that he is truly a 1 WAR player himself. This is an extremely difficult deal to project, but it looks like the Padres won this one.

Be sure to check out all of Call to the Pen’s transaction breakdowns for the 2011-12 offseason. You can follow Call to the Pen on Twitter at @FSCalltothePen or like us here on Facebook.

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Topics: Cameron Maybin, Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres

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  • The5_5Hole

    Great analysis Joe!  The San Diego Union Tribune made the comparison of the Padres to the Rays of five years ago.  They were just starting to change their front office philosophy and it led to the Rays being a competitive team.  While the Padres will probably finish toward the bottom of the division this year, they are moving towards being competitive for multiple years.  The Maybin move was fantastic, and exactly the type of move the Rays have made themselves famous for.  Perhaps the torch will be passed to San Diego. 

  • thesacbunt

    Hey Joe,
     
    Interesting stuff. Something you said stood out to me though:
     
    “At the price of $5 million per year, the Padres believe that Cameron Maybin will average out to about 1.1 WAR in value per season.”
     
    I believe you’re referring to a FanGraphs style conversion of free agent dollars to WAR. It’s not fair to use that analysis here though since Maybin didn’t didn’t a free agent deal, he signed over a pre-arb, 3 arb years, and two FA years combined. I’m sure the Padres view Maybin as much more than a 1 WAR player, they just didn’t need to pay him the way they would a free agent.

  • thesacbunt

    Again, and maybe I’m not reading this right, but you say:
     
    “This was a savvy move by the Padres, since Maybin should be getting $63 million over five years ($12.6 million). The Padres have saved $38 million by making this deal, ”
     
    That $63 million is free agent dollars, right? Because Maybin won’t be a free agent for 4 of those years, you can’t compare the dollars he signed for with expected free agent WAR prices.

  • The5_5Hole

     @thesacbunt I understand where you are coming from, but I think Joe is right in his usage.  While Maybin would not have made that money, the value association is correct.  It’s the exact same analysis most did in evaluating the Matt Moore contract with the Rays.  You are right in saying those are potential free agent dollars, but it still gives an idea of what the player is worth in a monetary sense if he outplays his contract. 

  • thesacbunt

     @The5_5Hole Well it says what he’s “worth” in a hypothetical world. I understand the reasoning in that we want to discuss things in a neutral environment. But it should be used more carefully in a discussion about the current real life scenario in which Cameron Maybin and the Padres are negotiating.

  • The5_5Hole

    @thesacbunt That’s a good point. In the real world Maybin is worth basically league minimum until arbitration.

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

     @thesacbunt The free agent dollars are projected dollars, so the Padres, in a sense, saved money based on his market value. They don’t value him as a 1 WAR player, the contract does. Misusage of words right there, so that was definitely my mistake. Players make much less on team-controlled extension, especially guys like Maybin or Brandon Morrow. That’s understandable, but it’s still a good move for the Padres. Extending your own players and giving them these kinds of deals are what the smart front offices do. This was their best move of the offseason. Thanks for commenting, but I use the WAR/$ analysis to give a general idea of what his value is and what he is getting. Otherwise, it would be no fun to say “Great extension” and finish off at that.

  • thesacbunt

     @SorianoJoe What about projecting his earnings in arbitration? That’s the question that needs answering, how much would the Padres expect to pay him had they not signed this deal? Not how much would they expect to pay him under a non-realistic scenario. 

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

     @thesacbunt Arb projections, sounds like the evaluation method for the next extension piece. Thanks. Yeah, checking market value is unrealistic, but I’ll still do it in addition to the arb projection. But yeah, looking at expected pay from the Padres would have been a better idea for this deal. 

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