2021 SABR Analytics: Watch highlights from Use of Analytics in Contract Negotiations panel

At the SABR Virtual Analytics Conference on Thursday, March 11, 2021, a panel discussion was held on the Use of Analytics in Contract Negotiations.

Panelists included Lonnie Murray, President and CEO of Sports Management Partners; Burton Rocks, founder of C.L. Rocks Corporation sports agency; Jay Sartori, Senior Director of Baseball Analytics & Operations with the Detroit Tigers; and moderator Brian Kenny of MLB Network.

2021 SABR Analytics panel: Brian Kenny, Jay Sartori, Lonnie Murray, Burton RocksHere are some highlights:

On evaluating metrics and intangibles equitably

  • Rocks: “It would be more for a player aged 35 or older where the intangibles would be what he’s done in the past, how his metrics haven’t decreased, and then you can go back and talk about players who gave up three years of time during World War II and came back from the break, and their metrics were phenomenal. If you were going based off of straight analytics, they might have been driven out the game.”

On advanced metrics and how they are used during negotiations

  • Sartori: “Players on the free agent market, their value is determined by the supply and demand by position. You can agree what the value of the player is, it’s just how much one team can allocate versus another.”
  • Murray: “There’s so much fluctuation between teams and what each team values, [as an agent I have to] focus on that. You are going to look at the most viable teams for that player as an organization and then you’re going to figure out what these teams especially value and then you are going to work from there.”

On projecting prospects

  • Murray: “On the amateur side you’ve got guys where teams are correlating bat speed to future success, but a guy gets into a game and he can’t hit. … There’s one kid in particular who got drafted in the fifth round and has average bat speed, but he can barrel the ball and defend the strike zone.”
  • Sartori: “Probably the most difficult thing to do in sports as they are more away from the major leagues … how performance relates to underlying tools, how to blend that with the players desire to make themselves great, it’s really difficult.”

On how teams view analytics

  • Rocks: “In the last decade, teams have weighted analytics more, but a lot of things are cyclical. … Baseball is undergoing a global shift in how can they market themselves and if they see analytics as a 50/50 partner in the future, teams are going to do that.”

To learn more about the SABR Virtual Analytics Conference, visit SABR.org/analytics.

Transcription assistance by Christian Wilson.


Originally published: June 1, 2021. Last Updated: March 23, 2021.