What a Potential Jameson Taillon Extension Would Look Like


The Pittsburgh Pirates like to lockup their younger players to get a known cost planning into the future.  The most likely player to be extended would be Jameson Taillon.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have some room to spend some money this offseason based on their past payrolls, and given the club seems set at most positions, they’ll be looking to extend yet another young player.  The most likely, and the Pirates best player not under a guaranteed contract, is Jameson Taillon, who will be in his last year of pre arbitration.

Using his 2019 STEAMER projection and an aging curve of: +0.25 WAR/yr (18-27), 0 WAR/yr (28-30),-0.5 WAR/yr (31-37),-0.75 WAR/yr (> 37) (or what Fangraphs uses as their base).  Using $8 million as the league dollar per WAR and the .25/.37/.54 rule for arbitration, Taillon’s overall club controlled years in Pittsburgh would look something like this, with arbitration years being in light yellow:

Jameson Taillon Club Control
Team Control2022
Projected WAR21.6
Projected Total Cost $31,561,943.00
2017252.9$      555,000.00
2018263.7$      571,000.00
2019273.3$      587,559.00
2020283.3$   6,760,000.00
2021293.3$ 10,078,784.00
2022303.3$ 14,361,600.00
*Arbitration values estimated

Taillon would get a 2.8 percent increase for his last year of pre arbitration, the same increase he received in 2017 and a total of $31.2 million in thee years of arbitration. For reference, here is how Gerrit Cole has projected each year in terms of arbitration (light yellow) through Matt Swartz model for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons:

Gerrit Cole Arbitration Estimates
YearWARSalary5% Growth Rate
20142.3$      512,500.00
20155.5$      531,000.00
20162.6$      541,000.00
20173.1$   4,200,000.00$   4,862,025.00
20186.3$   7,500,000.00$   8,268,750.00
20194.5*$ 13,100,000.00$ 13,755,000.00
*2019 STEAMER Projection

While Cole had performed better than Taillon in a singular season (5.5 fWAR season in 2015) before arbitration, a three-year MARCEL weighted 0.6, 0.3, and 0.1 puts Cole at 3.44 fWAR for his first arbitration eligible season of 2017, 3.19 for 2018, and 4.97 for 2018.  With the above projections for Taillon, the first year of arbitration is 3.38, followed by years of 3.34 and 3.30.  The two are similar in terms of MARCEL projection, so the arbitration estimates being close makes sense, though Taillon’s estimates here are likely an overestimate, but it provides a *close* estimate with what to expect his overall arbitration value to be, more so when compared to what Cole’s projection looks like with a 5.0 percent growth rate in salaries.  Cole also earned less in 2017 and 2018 than what Swartz projected, coming to an agreement with the club both times.

Building off the arbitration estimates, the Pirates are projected to owe Taillon $31.787 million over four seasons, or a $7.9 million annual average value.  Giving Taillon an increase in year one over the league minimum, starting the extension now, would make sense on the part of Taillon, so the first four years conceivably could look something like:

Jameson Taillon’s Club Control Years
YearFuture ValuePresent Value
2019$   2,000,000.00$   2,000,000.00
2020$   5,000,000.00$   4,761,904.76
2021$   9,000,000.00$   8,163,265.31
2022$ 14,000,000.00$ 12,093,726.38
Total$ 30,000,000.00$ 27,018,896.45

Discounting the future with a five percent discount rate (FV/(1.05)^t, where t=years in the future) puts this contracts at $27 million in today’s money.  Not a bad deal for the club, with Taillon getting more up front than he would with him still being pre arbitration eligible in 2019.  But the Pirates wouldn’t want to just pay for the arbitration years, they’d want some sort of extra benefit than going year-to-year outside of just the known cost control.  Looking at two options years at:

Jameson Taillon Option Years
YearFuture ValuePresent Value
2023$ 16,000,000.00$ 13,163,239.60
2024$ 16,000,000.00$ 12,536,418.66
Total$ 32,000,000.00$ 25,699,658.26

In total, the Pirates would be getting six years of known cost control of Taillon, the original four and two options for his ages 31 and 32 seasons, while Taillon gets similar value in what he should expect in the arbitration process along with what his first two years of free agency getting paid for.  Taillon, who will be 31 in his first year of free agency, would look to be a 2.8 win player based on the aging curve defined above.  In final, the contract would look something like:

Jameson Taillon Contract Extension
YearFuture ValuePresent Value
2019$   2,000,000.00$   2,000,000.00
2020$   5,000,000.00$   4,761,904.76
2021$   9,000,000.00$   8,163,265.31
2022$ 14,000,000.00$ 12,093,726.38
2023*$ 16,000,000.00$ 13,163,239.60
2024*$ 16,000,000.00$ 12,536,418.66
Total$ 62,000,000.00$ 52,718,554.71
*Team Option

Overall, a four-year deal worth $30 million with two club options at $16 million (total of $62 million) is worth about $53 million in today’s money.  This would present a deal similar to what the Pirates have signed, Felipe Vazquez signed a four deal worth $22 million and two $10 million team options, for a six-year deal worth $42 million.  Add in the extra value from being a starting pitcher, and it’s reasonable to see a similar deal being the Pirates willingness to pay extend Taillon.

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One last thing to remember about this deal is that there’s a good chance the arbitration is an overestimate and Taillon would earn only around $25 million over the next four seasons, making a four-year deal worth around $25 million with two options totaling in $28 million ($14 million each) a strong possibility.  That makes a deal worth a potential max of six years and $49 million.  A deal somewhere between $49 million and $62 million (there are errors in these estimates, especially in the arbitration estimate) seems the most likely avenue for the Pirates and Taillon coming together on new contract.