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Marveling at the Julio Teheran contract

Julio Teheran may not be an ace, but he doesn't have to be.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Five years, $40.6 million.

The above figures represent the remaining contract for Atlanta Braves right-hander Julio Teheran, provided the team picks up its option for $12 million in 2020. For the uninitiated, $40.6 million (or $28.6 million in guaranteed money over four seasons) may seem like a large price to pay for a player that could settle in as a mid-rotation option for the body of that contract. However, a quick look at the 2015-2016 offseason market for starting pitchers sings a different tune.

  • Jeff Samardzija - Five years, $90 million
  • Mike Leake - Five years, $80 million
  • Scott Kazmir - Three years, $48 million
  • J.A. Happ - Three years, $36 million
  • Mike Pelfrey - Two years, $16 million

Julio Teheran sports a career ERA of 3.44 in 633.1 innings of Major League work. The lowest career ERA represented on the list above is 3.88 from Mike Leake.

Yes, ERA is simply one statistical measure of pitcher performance, but beyond that, each hurler ranges from older to much older than Teheran, and none have flashed the upside put forth from Teheran in the recent past. Given that the entire quintet of free agent starting pitchers will make as much or more money per season than Teheran over the next handful of years, the market is clear.

Julio Teheran is a bargain.

Again, this isn't breaking news to most fans who are highly invested in the Braves, but a reminder is in order as the outcry for Teheran to be traded remains. The 2015 season was a disappointing one for the soon-to-be 25-year-old Teheran, but even if we were to extract his exact performance (4.04 ERA, 4.40 FIP, 1.1 fWAR) for each season over the next five, Teheran would easily be worth the money the Braves will be paying.

There is, as always, an argument as to whether his trade value exceeds his actual value to the organization, and that is a perfectly reasonable point to make. However, it is somewhat clear at this point that the Braves would be "selling low" on Teheran after his 2015 showing, and unless the organization believes that he will never bounce back to anything approaching the level he displayed in 2013 and 2014, it isn't time to sell.

At least not yet.

There will be deep dives, both in this space and others, about Julio Teheran's upside, performance and value over the next several months and years. One thing is for certain, though, and that is Teheran's contract is a tremendous plus for the Atlanta Braves right now and, sometimes, it is okay to stop and marvel.

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