Today on the Efectively Wild Podcast, Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh talked about a fictional baseball scenario, as they do. They talked about a Korean pitcher that flashed three 7-8 pitches in a 15 pitch video. They then discussed what they thought this imaginary pitcher would get on the open market adding in the stipulation we don't know how old the player is, when the video was taken, etc. I thought this would be an excellent time to use my salary projection system.
Ben Lindbergh suggested the player would get 15 million a year for four years. Sam Miller said four years, 30 million. Looking at the potential for the player with this repertoire, he would be a 7 pitcher. To make this deal look good for Ben, he would have to be 30 years old. A 30 year old, elite pitcher has an average value of $73 million dollars remaining in his career. For Sam to make this work, he could be 33. An elite arm at 33 is worth $27 million.
They finished the conversation saying, what if he was 17. Well, a 17 year old pitcher with 7 potential in rookie ball has a valuation of $98 million dollars in his career. Assuming he would debut at age 21, he would have $52 million dollars in value over his first six years in the majors. That means you wouldn't want to spend more than $36 million on a signing bonus, even if that gives you six years of service time. If you are looking at a straight MLB deal, you would need it to be extremely long along the lines of what Jorge Soler received.
Both of these guesses are reasonable. Ben's number would be based on what an existing free agent would get near his prime, where Sam's would be closer to the deal Aroldis Chapman actually got with similar stuff. His fastball and slider were elite pitches and very little was known about him. In reality, I would bet most teams would be closer to Sam's number but you never know with the way MLB has limited talent acquisitions.