Harrison has had just two full seasons in the majors, but has compiled 8.2 fWAR over those two years. Harrison had a 3.39 ERA in 2011, and had a 3.29 ERA in 2012. Harrison doesn't strike many hitters out, totaling just 259 punchouts in 399 innings over the two years, but also doesn't walk many, allowing only 116 free passes over that same time. However, Harrison keeps the ball on the ground, with a groundball rate north of 47% in each of his two seasons in the league.
However, $55 million over five years for Harrison seems a bit pricey to me. The Rangers gave Derek Holland, a year younger than Harrison, five years and $28.5 million last March after a 3.8 win season, and Holland's stock plummeted as he began to allow homers by the bucketload. Trevor Cahill got five years and $30.5 million (along with two option years) from the A's two Aprils ago when he was just 23 after two seasons in the majors. Johnny Cueto got four years and $27 million from the Reds before the 2011 season at age 25, buying out three arbitration years.
While the Rangers did buy out Harrison's first three years of free agency with this contract in addition to his final two years of arbitration, it just seems like a lot of money to me for a guy who doesn't dominate hitters. But then again, Edwin Jackson got $52 million over four years, and has never had a four win season in his career. Anibal Sanchez got five years and $80 million, and has had just one four win season in his career (just like Harrison!).
At the very least, this will set the market for young starters for the next year. Five years and $55 million for two arbitration years as well as three free agent years for Matt Harrison…David Price and his agent must be smiling right now.