The Matt Harrison Extension, And What It Means


As Michael wrote several hours ago, per Jeff Wilson of the FWST, the Rangers and LHP Matt Harrison have agreed on a 5-year, $55 million extension, which runs through 2017 (with an option in ’18). The deal also effectively eliminates Matt Harrison‘s potential arbitration situation, as he’s set to earn $5M in 2013, $8M in 2014, and $13M in ’15, ’16 and ’17. His 2018 option is believed to be worth $13.25 million with a $2 million buyout.

Basically, the Rangers bought out his two remaining arbitration years for $13 million, and his first three free agency seasons for $39 million.

With Matt Harrison now in the fold with the longterm in mind, the Rangers now have Yu Darvish, Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando signed through 2016, with all but Ogando under contract through 2017 as well. The front 4 of the Rangers rotation is set for the foreseeable future.

Now, what does this mean as far as production?

Over the last two years, Harrison has established himself amongst the upper-third of starters in Major League Baseball, posting ERA’s of 3.39 and 3.29 in 2011 and ’12, respectively, accumulating 8.2 fWAR in that time frame. Though he’s outperformed his peripherals the last couple years (3.85 xFIP in 2011, 4.13 in ’12), Harrison seems like a safe bet to add a healthy amount of surplus value to this deal.

If we look at his contract breakdown in isolation, $11 million AAV over the next five years means he’ll need to generate about 2.2 fWAR per season in that time frame to justify the terms of the contract — a very doable endeavor for Harrison.

Behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, and Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison once seemed a little lost at the back of the bus, at least among the talent in that shuffle brought back in the Mark Teixeira trade of 2007. Posting 83.2, 63.1 and 78.1 innings, respectively in his first three Major League years, he never put together a season with a better ERA than 4.71.

Just two full years removed from 2010, and Harrison has earned himself a $55 million extension. It’s a testament to his work ethic, turning himself from what, at the time, seemed like a future left-handed bullpen arm, into one of Texas’s most productive players. His transformation into a bonafide Major League starting pitcher arguably makes him Mike Maddux‘s finest work. I don’t think that can be lost in all of this.

This extension screams good value for Jon Daniels and the Rangers front office, as they continue an era of smart, shrewd signings, in this, the greatest run of Texas Rangers baseball in history.