Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

The Jay Gibbons Signing

Posted by Mike on January 25, 2006

The Orioles have reached an agreement with Jay Gibbons for a four year contract extension at $21.1 million. In 2006, he’ll make $4.2 million, 2007- $5 million, 2008- $5.8 million, and 2009- $6.2 million. Let’s try and see if he’ll be worth it.


Jay Gibbons was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 14th round of the 1998 draft. The Orioles acquired him in the Rule V draft in 2000. Since then, he’s posted the following lines:

2001 (Age 24)- .236/.301/.480 in 225 ABs

2002 (Age 25)- .247/.311/.482 in 490 ABs

2003 (Age 26)- .277/.330/.456 in 625 ABs

2004 (Age 27)- .246/.303/.379 in 346 ABs

2005 (Age 28)- .277/.317/.516 in 488 ABs

It should be noted that the apparent outlier in this sample, 2004, can at least partially be attributed to eyesight problems (which have since been corrected) and a back problem he suffered as a result of lifting weights in the pre-season. In addition, Gibbons’ BA/BIP in 2005 was only .268, an indicator that he was a pretty unlucky batter this past season (average is normally in the low .290’s). For comparison’s sake, Gibbons’ BA/BIP in 2004 was .276 and in 2003 it was .292.

Defensively, Gibbons is a converted first baseman– which makes it harder to believe that he looked so silly there in the beginning of 2005. While it may be a little harsh to judge a guy on a 22 game sample, the O’s have apparently made their verdict and it is probably pointless to judge him anywhere but in RF. So anyway, as a RF, Gibbons has made marginal improvements each year and can no longer be considered the liability he once was. Just don’t start handing him any gold gloves yet, those are reserved for below-average fielders like Derek Jeter.

Analysis #1

First, I entered Jay Gibbons’ 2005 stat line into the Sabernomics Salary Estimator. Quickly, this tool incorporates these factors, to varying degrees: OBP, Iso. SLG, Service time, and position. If you want to read about this further, I encourage you to check out the highly informative blog linked above.

Since this tool incorporates whether or not the player is a free agent or merely arbitration-eligible (based on service time), the suggested salaries are going to vary wildly from 2006 to 2007 (when Gibbons would have been a free agent). So, I entered his 2005 stat line and moved his service time up one year for each year the contract extends to. So, these suggested salaries have not accounted for inflation. One other thing, these suggested salaries are based on MLB salaries during 2003. So the fact that contracts like those for Jeromy Burnitz and Jacque Jones have set the market around $5-6 million per year for decent slugging, low OBP corner outfielders is unaccounted for. Yes, I know I’m making lots of qualifications for this analysis but I still think it’s useful (or at least fun).

Here are the suggested salaries for the next four years (followed by his actual salary in parantheses):

2006- $2,174,090 ($4,200,000) – Suggested salary is so low because he is not a free agent yet

2007- $5,103,141 ($5,000,000)

2008- $5,993,017 ($5,800,000)

2009- $6,793,327 ($6,200,000)

To reiterate, keep in mind the following when reading these numbers:

1) They are based on 2003 salaries, which wouldn’t account for recent and future inflation. This would work in J-Gib’s favor.

2) Similar, but older, players like Burnitz and Jones have recently signed similar contracts, which again bears well for Gibbons

3) Quality of defense is not factored in, which would not work in Gibbons’ favor.

Analysis #2

As stated above, players that fit roughly into the Gibbons mold have recently signed lucrative contracts themselves on the free agent market, like Jeromy Burnitz and Jacque Jones. Burnitz has been an all-star caliber player in the past but is entering his age 37 season. Jacque Jones has similarly had two seasons where if you squinted hard enough, he looked like an all-star– just not in the past two years. He will be entering his age 31 season.


Jeromy Burnitz- 1 year/$6.5 million– with a mutual option that could bring the deal to 2 years/$12 million—Ages 37 and maybe 38 seasons

Jacque Jones- 3 years/$16 million—Ages 31, 32, 33 seasons

Jay Gibbons- 3 years/$17 million– I’m throwing out the non-Free Agency year—Ages 30, 31, 32 seasons

2005 lines:

Burnitz- .258/.322/.435 with a .258 EQA

Jones- .249/.319/.438 with a .268 EQA

Gibbons- .277/.317/.516 with a .289 EQA

Defensively, both Burnitz and Jones are well-regarded. However, Burnitz’s defense will do nothing but decline at this stage of his career and Jones’ defense will have a much smaller impact in the cozy confines of the Wrigley corners.

Gibbons seems like the clear winner over this lot but consider the competition. If this is what this type of player is going for these days and the Orioles felt inclined to nab one, Gibbons was the correct choice.

Analysis #3

How will Gibbons age? Traditionally, one dimensional sluggers do not age particularly well. How likely are we to see this play out over the life of this contract?

To determine this, I looked at Baseball Reference’s top comparables for Gibbons. First, I weeded out the players that have yet to reach their age 32 seasons. Then, I looked at the players I assume most of you will be somewhat familiar with. Here are a few synopses:

Brian Daubach– Had his best season at age 29, contributed at age 30, then fell off a cliff during his age 31 and 32 seasons.

Larry Sheets– After showing early glimpses of potential, was utterly useless from ages 29-32.

Jay Buhner– I have to admit my surprise at seeing him listed on Gibbons’ comparables list, but- he was an all-star caliber player through his age 32 season when he began his steady decline phase.

Bo Jackson– Again, I was surprised to see his name, but he did have a similar approach at the plate- he was rendered useless by injuries except for part of his age 31 season and then was out of baseball.

I guess there is some promise in this comparables list. The only thing that it strongly suggests is that Gibbons is not likely to be a useful player in 2009- when he is set to make $6.2 million.


I think I’ve provided a nice set of pros and cons to evaluate in this post. On my end, the fact that free-agents will now be less likely to sign here than ever makes this extension more reasonable (Thanks again Miguel). On the other hand, the one area where the Orioles have some depth in the minor leagues is in the outfield. I’ll leave it up to you to make the final verdict.


3 Responses to “The Jay Gibbons Signing”

  1. No Speakz said

    As youve remarked, there are J Gib type players all over the league, so we are holding onto a run of the mill type guy. However, what you failed to mention is the clear advantage he has when it comes to his handsome good looks. I will look forward to 4 more years of seeing his beautiful mug on the jumbotron.

  2. i'm from out of town said

    Your Jay Gibbons article and subsequent references to inflation and the sabernomics salary estimator are proof that you are insane.

    An unrelated question, why the hell didn’t we sign Frank Thomas? We paid more for Millar, who figures to get about the 200 ABs that Thomas is good for. Thomas still is an OBP machine and has pop. At a minimum, his upside and cheap price would have made sense for us. I mean, 1 year for $500,000? That’s a deal no speaks would nut his pants for(which isn’t saying much).

    Also, Javy’s an asshole much the same as Miguel. I’d say trade him, but we’re obviously not going to get equal value for him considering the Angles wouldn’t even give up Erstad for him.

  3. Mike said

    – If posting detailed analyses of the Jay Gibbons signing is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

    – Yes I would have rather signed Thomas than Millar but keep in mind that the 500K is in guaranteed money and that deal could reach as high as $3.5 mill. I have little doubt that in order to sign with the O’s, much more of that money, if not all, would have to be guaranteed. All that considered, I still would rather have Thomas. And I still think NoSpeaks would have to change his corduroys afterwards.

    – Javy never bad-mouthed the team. He said his preference was a trade or an extension, since he’d rather be a full-time catcher in his walk year to increase his market value. Since this probably will be his last lucrative contract, I can understand that a lot more than throwing 24 other teammates under the bus.

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