News and Notes: Brewers Sign Infielder, Garza Contract Breakdown

Just catching up on a couple of recent news items that I haven’t been able to get on the blog yet what with Brewers On Deck over the weekend and “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” now underway as well.

Brewers Sign Orr

PeteOrr

First, it was announced on Monday that the Brewers have signed minor-league free agent Pete Orr to an appropriate minor-league contract.

Orr, 34, is a veteran of 14 professional seasons including parts of eight seasons in the big leagues. He brings a solid glove, some positional versatility (there’s that word again), and a mental attitude that can be lacking at times from a locker room.

The Brewers will be Orr’s fourth franchise following stops in Atlanta (who signed him as an amateur free agent in 1999), Washington, and most recently Philadelphia. Orr plays primarily second base with some third base defensively, but he saw time as recently as last season in the outfield and has played shortstop along the way in his career a time or two (though not at the MLB level since eight games back in 2008).

This isn’t a “blow the doors off” type of move, but a solid, reliable, veteran defender like Peterson Thomas Gordon Orr continues to find a job because there is value in what he brings to the ballpark in his toolbox. He won’t make the 25-man roster out of the gates at the end of Spring Training, but he’ll work hard every day and be ready in the event that the Brewers need his particular set of skills.

Orr bats left-handed and is listed at 6’1″ tall, weighing 195 pounds. And did I mention he’s Canadian? Because of course he is. To that end, he has played for Team Canada in every World Baseball Classic tournament that has been held (2006, 2009, 2013).

Garza’s Contract Broken Down

MattGarza

Thanks first to Joel Sherman, Twitter found out about the contract breakdown of the free agent deal Matt Garza signed with the Brewers over the weekend. It’s fairly standard for the first four years, but it then becomes quite brilliant in regards to the 5th-year option which was worked into the pact.

First, the 2014-2017 years: Garza is guaranteed a $12.5 million salary each season. Of that, $2 million is deferred (interest free) each year respectively into seasons 2018-2021. Garza has the opportunity to make up to $1 million each season in immediate incentives as well. There are two incentives that he can hit each of which trigger their own $500k bonus. The first incentive is 190.0 innings pitched. The second incentive is making 30 starts. Those are reachable incentives if Garza is healthy. They even allow for the leveraging of one standard trip to the disabled list each year in which Garza could potentially miss three big league starts. To make both incentives together, Garza needs to average 6.1 IP over 30 starts. Again, doable.

Now then, the 2018 option is dependent on a multitude of factors both over the four guaranteed years of the contract and also specifics related to the 2017 season. The option can be worth up to $13 million if it vests. If it does not vest, there would be one of two different team options that would be put in place instead. They are, respectively, a $5 million team option or a $1 million team option. I’ll explain them all in the following sections.

Here are the requirements Garza must satifsy for the 2018 option to vest at a value of $13 million. And keep in mind that he must satisfy all requirements.

  • He must make 110 total regular season starts in the Major Leagues between the beginning of the 2014 season and the end of the 2017 season.
  • He must pitch at least 115.0 innings during the 2017 regular season.
  • He must not finish the 2017 regular season on the disabled list.

So there, again, you can see that if Garza is healthy and contributing over the life of his contract, his option will vest and he’ll get his fifth guaranteed year. That would be when he is 34 years old. He would be paid $15 million in 2018 in this scenario. That includes the $13 million in value from the vested option and the first $2 million in deferral payments.

Should Garza fail to meet any one of those three requirements, there is a team option that replaces the vesting option. That option would be valued at $5 million (and although there is usually a buyout amount including, that wasn’t reported that I saw). However, should Garza spend 130 days or more on the disabled list during any single season (which is 180 days long), not only would be certainly not satisfy the vesting option requirements, but the team option that replaces the vesting option in that scenario is a mere $1 million in value.

It’s a smart way to hedge against the possibility of injury with a pitcher who has had some health issues during his career. For example, should Garza suffer an injury which carries with it significant rehab time (torn shoulder capsule, labrum tear, Tommy John surgery, Achilles rupture, etc), then the Brewers maintain the leverage of getting four healthy seasons out of this contract. And if Garza is healthy for the first four years and earns the vesting option, then the Brewers will have gotten those four years of production up front with the opportunity for a fifth.

Hopefully that isn’t too complex to understand, but even if it is I think it explains the delay from when I first reported that they were nearing an agreement last week Thursday to when the contract was announced and subsequently officially approved the following Sunday.

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