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Erick Aybar settled way too cheap

Apr 19, 2012, 7:02 PM EDT

Erick Aybar Reuters

More power to him if Erick Aybar loves Southern California and didn’t want to play anywhere else. He still should have done better than $35 million for four years in his new extension with the Angels.

$8.75 million per year is less than Julio Lugo got in his four-year deal with the Red Sox six years ago. It’s less than a well past his prime Edgar Renteria got from the Giants in a two-year deal for 2009-10. It’s barely more than Cristian Guzman earned in 2009-10.

And in case no one has noticed, the price tags have generally gone up since then. Aybar’s only rival at shortstop in free agency this winter would have been Stephen Drew, and at this point, there’s no telling if Drew is going to be a viable long-term shortstop after last year’s ankle injury. It’s possible no other starting shortstops will hit free agency this winter: Jhonny Peralta‘s option is almost certain to be picked up by the Tigers, and Jason Bartlett and Alex Gonzalez both have 2013 options that figure to vest if they stay healthy.

Aybar may not be thought of as a star, but he certainly ranks among the game’s top 10 shortstops with his plus glove and .695 career OPS. Hitting free agency at age 29, he probably would have gotten $50 million for five years as a minimum. Instead, he settled for $35 million and didn’t even get no-trade protection in the bargain. Angels fans should be thrilled.

  1. singingfriar - Apr 19, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    There is no way Jason Bartlett’s option should be allowed to vest.

  2. paperlions - Apr 19, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    Actually, price tags have not generally gone up for decent players….it has gone up for elite players. Being a top 10 SS might sound good, until you realize that such a designation still doesn’t make a player elite or in any way shape or form a difference maker. Aybar is 28 and had exactly 2 good years in his career. Getting 4 years and $35M guaranteed is pretty good with someone of limited ceiling and track record.

  3. explodet - Apr 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    I think you’re overlooking the fact that Aybar is terrible.

  4. randygnyc - Apr 19, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Still short enough so he can earn another contract, if he plays well. Could it be that that’s enough for him?

  5. hushbrother - Apr 19, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    Um, isn’t a .695 career OPS, like, terrible?

    You know, this year’s Angels remind me a little of last year’s Red Sox. Both teams made a big off season acquisition of a slugging first baseman, and appeared to have a stacked offense. But in reality, both teams’ lineups were riddled with barely-above-replacement-level black holes. Aybar, for all his solid glove work, is one of them.

  6. joshnorman - Apr 19, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    I think people forget that replacement-level offense is very position-dependent. A .695 OPS as an OF is garbage, but it is a quality contribution for a SS, especially one with a plus glove.

  7. itsmekirill - Apr 19, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    Where do you get this idea that Aybar has a plus glove? Other than that, he’s a singles hitter with low average and very little power.

  8. mianfr - Apr 19, 2012 at 11:00 PM

    In general, I’m not a fan of early extensions from a player’s perspective, but if you’re Aybar, you have to take this.

    Players reliant on defense have much more incentive to take the money early than players whose strength is the bat.

  9. 1981titan - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    I don’t care if Aybar hits .300 every year. Lasting impression is “NO CLUTCH” Can’t get a a bunt down on a suicide squeeze in the 2008 playoffs against the Red Sox and it was too cold to move to get a critical popup against the Yankees in 2009. HE was unable to move 5 feet to get the ball.

    • bancacentral - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      Yeap, 2 plate appearance should be enough to determine the validity of his contract.

  10. storebrandcookies - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:23 AM

    That’s what the Angels could scrounge up after giving C.J. Wilson and that first baseman almost $300 million total.

  11. jlhc5530 - Apr 20, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    Interesting how stark a contrast this analysis is to Fangraphs’ piece on Aybar. They cite far more comparable players/contracts, more recently signed, to show that Aybar looks to have done great by this deal.

  12. kpow55 - Apr 20, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    Weaver took less last year, Aybar this year….. it’s about staying with a winner and solid ownership.

    Would you rather be w/ a team that has a legitimate shot at a playoffs/WS every year or make 30% more and play for a perennial rebuilding project?

    Knock him all you want but a sensible guy who’s obviously good enough to be a starting SS on a top 5 team.

    • fearlessleader - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      Actually, Jerry DiPoto is quoted in this morning’s LA Times as admitting that this deal and the others the Angels have made will likely hamstring their future payroll flexibility, and will require them to develop the bulk of their incoming talent through their organization rather than acquiring it through free-agent signings. I don’t begrudge Aybar the contract, not at all, but I think the Angels have thrown a huge amount of money at a few marquee players while badly neglecting a number of other needs.

      • kpow55 - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:25 PM

        He and AM are also quoted as saying they don’t plan any big moves, right before signing Pujols and Wilson. Their desire to win often trumps their budget flexibility.

        I get what your saying though.

        They have a decent farm system and the know how to develop so hopefully the can ignore high end FAs for the next couple of years till their current batch expire.

        In my mind, it actually makes them more likable than the Yanks and BoSox. Yes they all chase and throw money around, but the Angels make an effort to develop talent.

  13. homelanddefense - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    Hits for “average” average. Little to no pop, very few extra base hits. Doest really drive in or score many runs…does have nice speed and a solid glove. Guy is a nice player, nothing special.

    Just because you can name a few deals (that were terrible by the way) doesnt mean he is underpaid.

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