Ibanez Versus Burrell

The Philadelphia Phillies unceremoniously dumped Pat Burrell last week by not offering him arbitration and replacing his roster spot with Raul Ibanez. Ibanez has reportedly agreed to a three-year $31.5 million contract ($10.5 million/year) with the Phillies. The differences between Ibanez and Burrell are subtle: Ibanez will be 37 next year and is left-handed, while Burrell is 32 and right-handed. They are alike in that they are both poor-fielding outfielders with good bats, both with OPS+ consistently in the 120s during the past few seasons.

With Ibanez, the Phillies will get output similar to what Burrell gave the team. Given his age, injury may be a bit more likely for Ibabez, but I project their values to be close over the next three years. I project Ibanez to be worth $46.5 million ($14.5 million/year) and Burrell to be worth $48 million ($16 million/year) over this time span. I’m unsure of what Burrell was willing to work for, but Ibanez appears to have offered the Phillies a good deal. Burrell may be worth the $14 million he earned last season with the team, but I suspect he was a going to be more selective than Ibanez, who’s used to making about half the current annual salary of his new contract.

In any event, I think that Phillies fans should be pleased with this signing. Burrell is a valuable player and will likely land a contract with a bigger salary. The team gets to keep Burrell’s production but now has some budget flexibility to add roster depth.

15 Responses “Ibanez Versus Burrell”

  1. Adam says:

    What you did not include in your analysis is that by not offering Burrell arbitration they lose out on potentially gaining two draft picks, and by signing Ibanez they forfeit their own first round pick.

    Since Burrell and Ibanez are seemingly close to a push, I think the loss of picks plays a significant role in this debate.

  2. TangoTiger says:

    I’ve got Ibanez’ 3 year value as a total of 10MM (see link).

  3. John Salmon says:

    Wow. it’s hard to imagine, with the age difference, that their values will really be similar, especially in the third year of Ibanez’ deal. Love to hear your thinking on this. 

    This leaves aside the issue of all the Phillies’ power now being left-nanded.

  4. Joe C. says:

    But they also gave up a First Round draft choice – yes these cost money, but can the value of that loss be quantified?  Shouldn’t that be part of the discussion here?  They essentially traded Burrell plus their first round draft choice for Ibanez.  The value of that draft choice is unknown and risky, but you could end up with another starter under club control for 6 years, or a good reliever very quickly if they wanted…

  5. Keith Law says:

    I’m with the others. There’s a net loss of 3 picks here (two gained for Burrell had they offered and seen him sign elsewhere, one lost for Ibanez), and I also don’t see any reason to think the two players will produce at comparable levels given the difference in ages.

  6. Rick says:

    I could be wrong here, but I read that the value of a 1st round pick is around $10mm or maybe more.

  7. JC says:

    The loss of draft picks is no doubt a negative of not offering arbitration to Burrell and signing Ibanez.  The lost value to Ibanez ought to be reflected in his signing salary, and I do estimate that he is being paid below his estimated value (approximately $15 million). As for the lost picks from Burrell, it must have been an interesting choice. If you offer it, he probably accepts and you end up paying a salary equal to his worth. If he rejects you get two picks and you can sign Ibanez.  My guess is that they  wanted to avoid the former.

  8. Brian says:

    Well, the Phillies would be giving up defense for offense, which is odd since they’re in the NL and they would have to go with him as their everyday LF. Last year, Ibanez did fairly well against lefties, but that hasn’t been the case for most of his career. Surely, the M’s will miss his offense in 2009 since they acquired Endy Chavez and probably have Greg Halman coming up, but I was a little surprised an AL team didn’t pick him up. Even the Angels could have DH’ed him.

  9. Jeffrey Beaumont says:


    Understand that the draft picks complicate the issue, but even that aside, I think we’re all pretty interested to hear how you think Ibanez will maintain the same value in years 38 and 39 vs Burrell in 33 and 34….? I know players age better now than in the past, but 38 and 39 is still pretty dangerous territory.

  10. JC says:

    The aging estimates are based on a study of mine.  But, you don’t really need this to expect Ibanez to continue to play well even as he declines. He’s been an 120 OPS+ player for the past three seasons, and it would be unusual for him to just fall off a cliff. His value is also helped by the growth of MLB revenues.

  11. Anthony says:

    Can you walk us through how you came to the 3/46.5 value for Ibanez?

  12. JC says:

    I have added a new answer to the FAQ page regarding my estimates of player values.

  13. TangoTiger says:

    I think he was asking for the numbers you actually used to feed into your engine, considering that your final evaluation of him is far above what he is being paid, and I’m not sure that there are many (any?) analysts that think that Ibanez signed for a discount.  You’ve got him worth at 50% above what he signed for, while I have him worth at 70% below what he signed for.  It’s hard to have a discussion on his overall worth, if we don’t see the (quantified) individual components that you used.

  14. JC says:

    I don’t have time to walk through individual estimates at this time. These estimates are an outgrowth of a much bigger project. I have explained my method, these are the estimates that result from that method. When my next book is published the changes to the model will be explained in even much greater detail than I they were in my previous book.

  15. D-Egg says:

    Do the projections factor in that Burrell plays like he’s 38? He’s not exactly in great shape, he’s a playboy, known for his BP hangovers, always seems to have a back or foot issue, whereas Ibanez is a work-out demon who may be in top physical shape (I don’t know his injury history or propensity for injury). Also, are monster (two-month) slumps like the one Burrell crawled through in August and September a sign of decline, whereas Ibanez has not shown that particular danger sign? What are the signs of decline other than age? Because I think that alone may be somewhat misleading in the case of both players.