Reality Check: Jeremy Guthrie

Jamie Squire

Jeremy Guthrie went 8-12 last season, with a 4.76 ERA. So does the free-agent starting pitcher really think he's going to get a three-year contract worth $34 million this winter?

Those guffaws and peels of laughter you heard this morning, ringing across our great land? Most of them were the result of Peggy Noonan's wildly silly, anti-intellectual election forecast. But most of the rest were because of this report, from the K.C. Star's Bob Dutton, about Jeremy Guthrie's free agency:

Guthrie, 33, is believed to be seeking a three-year contract for $34 million after resurrecting a lost season by going 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 16 starts after arriving in a July 20 trade from Colorado. He was 3-9 and 6.35 in 19 games for the Rockies.

Industry insiders contend Guthrie’s price will come down but are mixed in predicting how far down.

Read more here:

Here's how a couple of my friends reacted to three years and $34 million ...

Dave Cameron: "Good luck with that."

Rany Jazayerli: "Yeah, I'd pass."

Now, Dave and Rany are two of the smartest guys I know. But is $11 million per season for Jeremy Guthrie really so far out of line?

According to Dave Cameron's own Website, Guthrie was worth nearly $10 million in both 2009 and '10 ... and I doubt if those values include an adjustment for pitching in the American League East. So let's say he was worth $20 million over those two seasons.

In 2012, his value dropped all the way to $4.4 million ... but that includes his negative value with the Rockies, and while I won't suggest that his terrible time with that club shouldn't count ... Well, it probably shouldn't count for much, because almost immediately after getting out of Colorado, Guthrie was good again. It sure looks Jeremy Guthrie remains capable of pitching effectively for 29 major-league teams.

How effectively? Guthrie was worth -- again, according to FanGraphs -- a whopping $6.6 million in only 14 starts with the Royals after leaving the Rockies. No, he's probably not that good. But he certainly pitched like a $10 million pitcher with Kansas City. And I think it's appropriate to give him a mulligan for those 91 crappy innings with the Rockies.

So we've got, roughly speaking, a pitcher who's been a $10 million pitcher in each of the last three seasons, and is now reportedly hoping to earn $11 million in each of the next three seasons. Is that really so crazy? Considering salary inflation, and all the money that teams will have to throw around in those three seasons?

Well, Guthrie turns 34 next spring. So that's something. He's also maintained the speed on his pitches at almost precisely the same levels for the last three years. That's something, too.

Do I think he'll get three years and $34 million? No, he probably won't. But a lot of teams are looking at the same numbers I'm looking at. And considering how many teams probably figure they're just one decent starting pitcher away from winning 85-90 games, I won't be surprised if he earns roughly $10 million per season.

And it won't be crazy. That's just what they get these days.

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