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There's been roughly 22 signings so far. The market for hitters has become a little more established. The market for starting pitching is still hazy as El Duque and Mussina are the only ones to have signed contracts at this point.

Here's a look at the contracts:

Player Age Years Dollars Average/Year Comp
Alfonso Soriano, LF 30 8 $136,000,000 $17,000,000 A
Aramis Ramirez, 3B 28 5 $75,000,000 $15,000,000
Mike Mussina, SP 37 2 $22,500,000 $11,250,000
Jim Edmonds, CF 36 2 $19,000,000 $9,500,000
Frank Thomas, DH 38 2 $18,120,000 $9,060,000 B
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B 33 2 $18,000,000 $9,000,000
Orlando Hernandez, SP 37 2 $12,000,000 $6,000,000
Alex Gonzalez, SS 29 3 $14,000,000 $4,666,667 B
Justin Speier, RP 33 4 $18,000,000 $4,500,000 A
Mark DeRosa, 2B 31 3 $13,000,000 $4,333,333 B
Frank Catalanotto, LF 32 3 $13,000,000 $4,333,333 A
Sean Casey, 1B 32 1 $4,000,000 $4,000,000
Jose Valentin, 2B 37 1 $3,800,000 $3,800,000
Wes Helms, 3B 30 2 $5,450,000 $2,725,000
Henry Blanco, C 35 2 $5,250,000 $2,625,000
Scott Spiezio, 3B 34 2 $4,500,000 $2,250,000
Alex Cora, SS 31 2 $4,000,000 $2,000,000
Kerry Wood, SP 29 1 $1,750,000 $1,750,000
Kazuo Matsui, 2B 31 1 $1,500,000 $1,500,000
Wade Miller, SP 30 1 $1,500,000 $1,500,000
Damion Easley, SS 37 1 $850,000 $850,000
Ramon Martinez, 2B 34 1 $850,000 $850,000

It's no surprise that teams are willing to give up draft picks to sign top free agents like Soriano. However, it is a little surprising to see decent contributors like Catalanotto and Speier sign before the arbitration deadline date of December 1st.

The sandwich round in this year's draft is going to be long. It's already at 6 picks and there's likely to be at least another 10 by the time free agency is over.

Right now the Jays will have 7 of the top 100 picks in the 2007 draft, and likely 6 of the top 75. Lilly and Zaun would both yield sandwich picks if they signed elsewhere, with the signing team not giving up any compensation. Molina would yield two picks, but I'd be very surprised if the Jays offered him arbitration and another team signed him. If the Jays offer arbitration to Molina there's a high chance he'll be back in Toronto next year (which is probably more likely today than a month ago). If the Jays sign an 'A' free agent from another team they would foreit their 1st round pick.

As free agency is showing, your best value are contributing players prior to their free agent years, and particularly during their first 4 years. These extra picks will allow the Jays to try to get a few more of these players.

So what does a top 100 draft pick during the JP era look like? Here's a list of the 14 players taken in the top 100 picks of Ricciardi's 5 years.

Player Name Rnd #
Ricky Romero 1 6
Aaron Hill 1 13
Russ Adams 1 14
Travis Snider 1 14
David Purcey 1 16
Zach Jackson 1 32
Josh Banks 2 50
David Bush 2 55
Curtis Thigpen 2 57
Shaun Marcum 3 80
Adam Lind 3 83
Justin Maureau 3 86
Brian Pettway 3 86
Danny Hill 3 87

Obviously it's too early to tell on most players, but it's about 50/50 for these picks. And you don't get to the complete busts until the bottom of the list. Everyone else is still a prospect of varying degree. The Jays should be able to come out of this draft with at least 3 solid contributors. It'll be interesting to see how they play their hand, but that's a long way off still.

I seem to remember Baseball America saying that the draft is fairly strong in 2007. However, in his blog today Keith Law wrote that, "at this moment, the 2007 draft pool doesn't look particularly strong, especially not in comparison to the class right behind it, this means that teams without comp picks are watching the values of their second-round picks evaporate, making the first round even more important than usual."
Free Agent Market Coming Into Focus | 97 comments | Create New Account
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Mark - Monday, November 20 2006 @ 04:21 PM EST (#158373) #
The way the compensation works is that type A's have priority over type B's in the supplemental round. For instance, even though Cat's ranking is 63.611, the jays will have a higher pick than whoever signs Zaun (Type B, 64.762). Also the order of Supplemental is sorted according to Elias Ranking. The top 13(to make it interesting) players are:

Moises Alou 86.444
Barry Zito 85.196
Ray Durham 82.251
Carlos Lee 80.833
Bengie Molina 80.476
Alfonso Soriano 80.222
Jason Schmidt 78.431
Aramis Ramirez 77.019 (re-signed)
Mike Piazza 76.923
Luis Gonzalez 75.778
Gary Matthews Jr. 75.556
Greg Maddux 75.327
Justin Speier 74.027

So if all these players are offered arb by their teams and all of them sign on a different team the Jays will get the 42nd pick for Speier. Maddux is expected to re-sign and Molina and Gonzalez will probably not be offered arb. A rough guess is that 2 players will re-sign with their own teams (Durham, Matthews?) which will bring the pick into the high 30's.

The supplemental round has a chance to be upwards of 30 picks this year. Obviously we will know alot more after the arbitration deadline.
Mick Doherty - Monday, November 20 2006 @ 04:26 PM EST (#158374) #

Molina is fifth on that list of 13?

That's roughly eight places too high, methinks.

Mike Green - Monday, November 20 2006 @ 04:44 PM EST (#158377) #

As they do about 1/2 the time, the writers got the wrong man for NL MVP.  Ryan Howard had a great season, but it was pretty clearly inferior to Pujols', once you adjust for park and defence.  The tough call is actually between Pujols and Beltran (who finished fourth), as that depends to a great degree on the importance and quality of Beltran's defence in center.  Amazingly, all 32 voters had Howard 1st or 2nd on their ballots. The voters can't even point to Howard's contributions to a winning club as a reason to vote for him. 

Pistol - Monday, November 20 2006 @ 05:03 PM EST (#158380) #
I thought what was more revealing was that Berkman finished ahead of Beltran.  The writers obviously don't factor in defense, baserunning or park factors in their evaluation (and you can argue those same points for Pujols over Howard).

Which is why no one should take the BBWAA awards very seriously.  I'll stick with the IBAs.

Mick Doherty - Monday, November 20 2006 @ 05:21 PM EST (#158382) #
There is now a poll up live about the 2006 NL MVP Award.
binnister - Monday, November 20 2006 @ 06:15 PM EST (#158389) #
Pistol - Monday, November 20 2006 @ 07:30 PM EST (#158395) #
Pierre to the Dodgers - 5 for $45.  WOW.

Jason Larue to the Royals for a PTBNL.  Larue makes $5.2 million in 2007.  There's likely one less suitor for Zaun now.

Mike Green - Monday, November 20 2006 @ 09:32 PM EST (#158403) #
To optimize Soriano's value, the Cubs intend to lead him off.  The Game might suggest that if you're going to do that, you would be better off to bat the pitcher 8th. Somehow, I don't see that happening in Chicago.
CaramonLS - Monday, November 20 2006 @ 10:21 PM EST (#158406) #
What a waste. 

Good, now he can hit solo bombs or a bases empty double.  Or have another .320~ OBP season instead of batting in the #5 hole like he should be.
R Billie - Monday, November 20 2006 @ 11:02 PM EST (#158409) #

This has a lot of shades of the 2000 free agent market except there is no single player anywhere near as good as A-Rod available.  And already we have Soriano, a 30 year old with questionable defensive value, signing an 8 year contract worth near $20M a year after having what could be a career year.  Certainly atypical for him.  His contract is surprising but somehow not surprising that the Cubs were involved.

I think it's a real test of a GM to compete in this atmosphere but not fall prey to the insanity and possibly handcuff his team for a development cycle or two.  Do you now sign Wells to a rumoured 6 year, 102M asking price?  As far as I can see, the market can't possibly get worse by waiting a year.  But then Wells is much less likely to sign once he's filed for free agency.

Frank Markotich - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 09:11 AM EST (#158419) #

Payrolls go up when revenues go up. Period. Baseball is now just scratching the surface of what they're going to get through MLBAM (internet, satellite radio etc.). You think salaries are high now, in a few years this will look like nothing.

I've been a baseball fan for a long time, and this refrain of "salaries are crazy, insane, blah blah...") has happened over and over. It happened when free agency began, and with every renewal of the TV deals when revenues spiked again. Get used to it. Hell, the Sporting News used to write annual stories about "skyrocketing salaries" in the reserve clause days, when the top players got $100,000 or so.


R Billie - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 11:55 AM EST (#158436) #

Except that even in a market awash with cash there have to be some standards for spending.  It could take a while to really get a handle on what the new standards will be.  You can't just give out 8 year deals because you feel like it.

Having more money to spend does not mean that signing pitchers for over 3 years is not a bad risk.  It doesn't mean that signing 30 year olds for 8 years is not a huge risk.

The last time I heard that baseball has more money than it knows what to do with, A-Rod was signed to a 10 year, $20M per contract.  Mike Hampton got an 8 year deal as a PITCHER.  Scott Boras is talking about getting Scott Schoeneweiss a 4 year deal coming off a terrible season.  I can't think of a lot of these examples for which the insanely big contracts actually worked for a team, save very special guys like Albert Pujols or Barry Bonds.

Having more money to spend is good.  Having the players keep their piece of the pie is good.  General managers handcuffing their franchises for years by signing away the next half decade to a decade in big money deals is not going to help their teams.

Mike Green - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 12:11 PM EST (#158438) #
Pujols' and Bonds' contracts are set up to be among the best value for money deals of the last 15 years.  Sometimes, the way contracts turn out is purely fortuitous, other times it is entirely predictable.  Pujols' contract seemed to me at the time as an obvious excellent move by the Cardinals, while the Soriano signing is precisely the opposite.  The reasons are simple- the enormous difference in talent level and the difference in age. 
actionjackson - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 12:50 PM EST (#158447) #
In this market, I'd be fine with 2/$8mil for Zaun, but that is the final offer. He's not a backup, but he's not a starter either. He's a tweener. If 2/$5.25mil is the price for a backup, all be it a very good defensive backup, coming off a career year offensively, and paid for by those wackos at the Chicago Tribune, then 2/$8mil has to be fair. I wouldn't offer Barajas that much though, not with that dreary OBP, although his power's nice, but he's kind of another tweener.
John Northey - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 01:43 PM EST (#158454) #
Well, I suspect Zaun is gone based on his interview with the Star

He basically said that he wants more than backup money and the Jays are only offering a bit more than what the Cubs gave to Blanco ($5.25 over 2 years).  I suspect he'll get $5 mil per year on a 2 year deal with a 3rd year as an option based on playing time.  Hopefully fans in Toronto will cheer him if/when he comes back in another uniform as this is clearly a case of a guy finally getting his one shot at a big contract.  If he was 28 and got greedy, OK boo him, but a guy who is signing what will be his one and only big contract (in baseball terms) I can't see being mad at.

VBF - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 01:50 PM EST (#158455) #

This would be ridiculous if the difference between Zaun staying and leaving was 2-3 million per year. Instead of looking at what we 'feel' Zaun's value should be, the Jays better be looking at what value he is to the Jays, and what the consequences could be if he doesn't come back.

Barajas is a terrible offensive catcher who played in Ameriquest. The very notion that he wants job security for two years is bologni. Jason Phillips could have put up his numbers in Ameriquest.

I just can't believe this organization has butchered this Zaun deal. Not once, but twice. I'm praying they can realize how bad the situation is without Zaun and just give him his money.

Ron - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 01:51 PM EST (#158456) #
One of the best contracts the past 10 years is the 4 year/40 million deal Johan Santana signed. If he didn't sign that extension, he would be a free agent right now. If Santana was available, I would expect the Yanks to offer him a 8 year/200 million dollar contract.

David Ortiz's recent 4yr/50 million dollar extension also looks to be a steal.

Chuck - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 01:55 PM EST (#158457) #
If he was 28 and got greedy, OK boo him, but a guy who is signing what will be his one and only big contract (in baseball terms) I can't see being mad at.

With all due respect, why boo him even if he were 28? It's his prerogative to make career decisions based on whatever criteria he wants. And if money is the decider, so be it. It's not our place to call him greedy. Maybe Ted Rogers is the greedy one for not ponying up what Zaun could get elsewhere in the market place. The money means a lot less to Rogers than it does to Zaun.
fozzy - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 02:17 PM EST (#158459) #
Congrats to the kid Justin Morneau, who just won what I believe to be one of the most undeserved AL MVP awards in decades, as reported by Rotoworld.
Ron - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 02:17 PM EST (#158460) #
If Zaun signs elsewhere for something around 2yrs/8-9 million and the Jays new starting catcher is Rod Barajas, Toby Hall, or Jason Phillips, I'm going to be upset.
The Jays probably offered Zaun a little bit above what Blanco recieved thinking he might accept a hometown discount. Because of the lack of starting catching options out there, I don't feel like it's worth it to play hardball with Zaun.

fozzy - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 02:18 PM EST (#158461) #
Oh, and the MLB story is can be found here.
China fan - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 02:21 PM EST (#158462) #
  The Toronto Sun claims that the Jays are interested in right-hander Adam Eaton of the Texas Rangers to replace Lilly in the starting rotation.    Any thoughts about his merits?   Would he be an adequate replacement in any way?   And how much would he cost?
Pistol - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 02:24 PM EST (#158463) #
So much for the NY/large market/east coast/anti-Canadian bias in the media!
John Northey - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 02:47 PM EST (#158465) #
The age 28 line about signing elsewhere is more on the lines of 'if you must boo' than 'you should boo'.  To me the keys between greed and just 'well, it makes sense' are has the guy made his fortune yet (for someone who already was making $10+ mil a year a hometown discount seems reasonable, to a guy who never made over $1 mil a year is doesn't) and how is the team treating/treated him - ie: Delgado being offered a crazy low contract makes sense for him to say 'screw this', Leiter getting offered more money to stay here makes him a 'boo target' for leaving. 

Eh, in the end the key is 'do you like the player or not'?  The media plays a very big role in this (if they hate you they can get the fans to as well by telling negative stories, if they love you they can get the fans onside with glowing stories about how you love kids or something).  Zaun did some stuff in the clubhouse that we heard of that we liked, but I wouldn't be surprised if he also did stuff we'd dislike him for if it was reported, but the various media members locally felt didn't fit how they felt about Zaun.  Same with virtually all players.  If the NY media decided A-Rod was great and Jeter was a jerk I'm sure they could switch the fans viewpoint, just write about anything negative that Jeter does, start complaining about his defense and say he doesn't care about anything that isn't about him while playing up any charity that A-Rod does and state how he is such a great team guy for switching positions and accepting being moved about in the order without complaint (regardless of if he does complain).  I'm sure if they wanted to they could switch the viewpoint on those two within a year.

Chuck - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 03:09 PM EST (#158466) #
Leiter getting offered more money to stay here makes him a 'boo target' for leaving.

So Leiter's criteria was more than just money. Who, other than he, has the right to judge his personal criteria?

And I'm a little confused. If a player who has made his fortune, by your definition, leaves because he is offered more money elsewhere (acknowledging the stipulation that protects Delgado's specific case), this deserves boos. But a player who leaves for less money, like Leiter did, also deserves boos? I don't know if this is quite reductio ad absurdum, but it seems that anyone who leaves for whatever reason, then, should get booed. Isn't that where this kind of thinking leads?

Once a player is a free agent, he owes nothing to his last employer, just as his last employer owes nothing to him. That's what being a free agent means. Zaun is currently a man without an employer. Zaun is within his rights to either sign with Toronto or anyone else, based on money, city, or whatever specific criteria he chooses. If he leaves, for whatever reason, no matter how much money he has earned to date, no matter how big his house, how numerous his cars, how blonde and buxom his wife, it's his decision and to boo him for it would be ludicrous.

Judge Zaun, or any other player, for how well he performed while under contract, how much effort he exerted, how professionally he behaved, etc. If anyone has an axe to grind with Zaun over any of these, boo him. But don't boo him because he was a free agent who left.
braden - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 03:42 PM EST (#158467) #

Zaun was on The Fan590 with Wilner a couple of hours ago.  Notable segments of the interview:

-Is no longer acting as his own agent.  Didn't think it would take this long.  Figured a new deal with the Jays would have been "hammered out over a proverbial beer."

-Has received about a half-dozen offers (though he figures he can count the Royals out now) including substantial ones to play back-up in 'big' markets.

-Will give JP every opportunity to match any offer he receives.

-Truly wants to return to Toronto.

Wilner also mentioned that Catalanotto came to JP with the Rangers offer and told him if he matched it, he'd stay.

Pistol - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 03:47 PM EST (#158468) #
If Zaun signs elsewhere for something around 2yrs/8-9 million and the Jays new starting catcher is Rod Barajas, Toby Hall, or Jason Phillips, I'm going to be upset.  The Jays probably offered Zaun a little bit above what Blanco recieved thinking he might accept a hometown discount. Because of the lack of starting catching options out there, I don't feel like it's worth it to play hardball with Zaun.

I agree completely with this.

And the thing is, if Ricciardi offered Zaun a 2 year, $6 million contract in October (reportedly the current offer) and told him he'd play at least 100 games at C I suspect Zaun would have taken it.  If the Jays wanted Zaun (and apparently they do) there was no benefit to waiting until free agency.  It's going to end up costing the Jays at least $1 million/year and/or a downgrade in performance.
Mark - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 03:50 PM EST (#158469) #
I think the main reason people were upset with Leiter is that they felt he "owed" the Jays. As I recall the Jays were very patient with him and helped him get his career on track while Leiter suffered through blister problems for many years.
Mike Green - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 03:56 PM EST (#158471) #
I certainly won't be booing Zaun if he leaves for more money. 

It is not, I think, quite as simple as the decision to leave a team being the player's choice.  Good teams show some loyalty to their players.  Ideally, they bring back some of them in the organization in other capacities after they retire.  They treat their players, and hopefully other employees, with some degree of compassion when circumstances require above and beyond their employment obligations.  There are obviously limits to their loyalty.  In the same way, players hopefully return the loyalty to the same degree.  That is probably why Zaun would like to return to Toronto, all other things being equal.

Anyways, whether a player is appropriately loyal or not, is not for me a reason to boo the player.  When management acts in a callous fashion, the fans have no way to express their displeasure or discomfort.  For us, it is a matter between the player and management.  The same applies when the player does so.

VBF - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 03:59 PM EST (#158472) #

Are we going to see Molina back in another late-winter signing if it doesn't happen?  Why is Molina (a catcher who just hit 19 HR's in part time) so weakly rated?

His proportion of righty to lefty pitchers he faced last year was skewed due to the fact that Zaun was on the team. If he faces a proportion of lefty to righties that any other full-time catcher would see, his numbers would decrease significantly. Something to the tune of .250/.310/.430, which appears to be a shade better than Rod Barajas.

cascando - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 07:48 PM EST (#158489) #
The guy I like at LAA is Maicer Izturis.  He put up some great numbers at AAA, gets on base, is hard to strike out, by most accounts plays a pretty solid SS and would probably be the cheapest of the bunch to acquire.  It is really in the Angels best interest to move at least one of those guys.  Cabrera, Aybar, Izturis, Wood, Kendrick... they can't find spots for all of them.  I wonder if a Reed for Izturis deal would play in LA?
Marc Hulet - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 08:49 PM EST (#158493) #
I imagine LAA would do that deal in a heart beat... I sure wouldn't. Johnson is worth far more than Izturis.
fozzy - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 01:00 AM EST (#158510) #
I'm gonna throw my very crazy prediction out there, and see if it sticks.

Dustin McGowan, who threw his fastball and slider real nicely in the AFL, won't be able to get his change-up down enough to make a good starter, but he'll be an electric compliment to League. The punch with them and Ryan will make innings 7-9 almost automatic, and the need for Jason Frasor in the 'pen moot. Frasor, a starter coming up who has command of 3 pitches (and sometimes even the curve) gets a look in spring training in the rotation, and puts up some decent numbers (he's been an above average major leaguer every year he's been in the majors (and improving quite a bit annually), and he basically skipped AAA - his workload has also been relatively light throughout his minor and major league career).

If I'm JP, and I see the ridiculous contracts being paid out to really mediocre pitchers, I would be handing out memos to anyone even capable of starting that they should be arriving to spring training with the stamina to throw as a starter. It really shouldn't be inconceivable that two of Marcum, Towers, Downs, McGowan, Rosario, League or even a dark horse like Frasor couldn't provide similar production for next to no money. Aside from a couple of reclamation projects (Wolf and Mulder come to mind), it's my opinion that this offense has enough power to make up for two spots where the ERAs might be pushing 5.00, and that the focus should be on solidifying the weaknesses in the field, and not focusing so much on the rotation.

fozzy - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 01:27 AM EST (#158514) #
He just doesn't have good command yet and it shows when he's in the majors and is afraid to throw any strikes. Doesn't have the confidence back yet.

In fairness, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and weighed about 15 pounds less than his stats page lists him at for almost the entire year. On top of that, he has since switched Frasor-style from using his curve as his secondary pitch to his much better power slider, the results of which were evident in the fall league.

His numbers though last year sure looked weird. As a starter he had an ERA of 6.0, as a reliever it was 7.85. But as a starter, for innings 1-3 his ERA was a miniscule 1.17, and his first time through a lineup, it's 2.17. After that though, it got very, very ugly. He put up some excellent numbers in September and October, as well (ERA of 0.00 and 3.38). Only 4 of the 9 teams he faced last year had an ERA against him (Balt, CWS, NYY, Oak), but they were all hideous (between 9 and 13.5).
robertdudek - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 05:33 AM EST (#158518) #
It would take a lot to convince me that there are ten better catchers in major league baseball than Gregg Zaun. If Catalanotto is worth 4+ million a year, then Zaun is easily worth 5 million. If Zaun asked for 9.5 over 2 years I'd slide a contract over to him to sign immediately.

Zaun has not had a heavy workload thus far in his career, which suggests that he has plenty in the tank. We know he's an outspoken leader, a good on base guy, a very good baserunner for his position, and a maestro at blocking the plate. It was apparent to me early in 2006 that he was clearly a superior player to Bengie Molina, and deserved to be the outright #1 catcher.

Chuck - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 07:58 AM EST (#158519) #
The breakdown of AL MVP voting by writer.  Check out Joe Cowley in Chicago. No vote for Mauer, but a vote for Pierzynski.
Jordan - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 02:39 PM EST (#158576) #
Rumours are rumours, but ... Adam Everett is a sensational defensive shortstop. He and Hill could be the best defensive combo this franchise has ever seen in the middle infield. Nice to ponder...
SNB - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 10:43 AM EST (#158625) #
Gagne is looking for one year, $10M, according to Sean McAdam at

So much for that idea....

Chuck - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 12:47 PM EST (#158633) #
Gagne is looking for one year, $10M, according to Sean McAdam at

Even in this crazy market, I can't believe he'd get that. Maybe an incentive-laden contract that lets him earn up to that much if he stays healthy, but not a guarantee for that amount.
MatO - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 01:23 PM EST (#158637) #
If he's healthy, sign Gagne for a year and move League into the rotation instead of signing some mediocre starter for multiple years.
Chuck - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 01:42 PM EST (#158639) #
Gagne has pitched a total of 15 innings over the past two seasons. He could look as healthy as a horse but would anyone trust that he's a given to survive the season? I imagine that he'll have no alternative but to do what Frank Thomas did last year: sign a low-based, incentive-laden, one-year deal and prove to the world that he's back. If so, then the big paycheques can start coming in 2008.
Craig B - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 03:54 PM EST (#158658) #

I use the Bonds comp because Soriano and Bonds are both members of the 40-40 club

This made me grin, like saying that Willie Mays and Joe Mays are both members of the "Mays club" or comparing Pedro Martinez and Denny Neagle because they've both had years with 20 wins and 150 strikeouts.

RhyZa - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 04:20 PM EST (#158662) #

Question:  Is the Matthews signing the worst ever?

Not so much in the amount (because we all know this sport is quite familiar with horrid contracts), but in the sense that one doesn't even have to wait for hindsight to decide it since everyone already KNOWS that he won't come close to living up to this inexplicable price tag.

Parker - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 05:46 PM EST (#158667) #
At the rate salaries are inflating, $10M a year might be a bargain for a CF with superior defence and slightly above-average hitting in 2010.

But seriously, I don't think this contract is ever going to look like a bargain.  On the other hand, I doubt it's the worst signing in history either, unless Matthews never plays another game at the MLB level.

Craig B - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 07:20 PM EST (#158671) #

Bonds was also putting up those numbers before the 1994 offensive explosion (which matters for the HR, not so much for the SB).  Still, your point is certainly a good one; Soriano has really good, unusually good, HR and SB numbers. 

But interestingly, he has less than half of Bonds's value.  (Bonds's WARP for the age 25-30 years, pro-rated for the two shortened seasons due to the strike, is 78.6... Soriano's WARP for those seasons is 35.4)

Jonny German - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 10:04 PM EST (#158678) #
Is the Matthews signing the worst ever?

It'll be interesting to see if any of the contracts this offseason end up in that category. It certainly seems likely at the moment, but the bar I'm thinking of is set pretty high: The Diamondbacks signed Russ Ortiz for $33M following the 2003 season, and for that he gave them 138 innings with a nice round ERA of 7.00 (an ERA+ of approximately 62). It looked like a really bad signing at the time, but I doubt anyone estimated it would turn out that badly.
Craig B - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 10:18 PM EST (#158680) #

he's still pretty darn good

Oh, heck, he's a very good player.  No argument there.

We don't know how Soriano will age, but he's obviously still in fantastic physical shape, which I think helps him.  For a guy who's not huge, he's very strong and fast.

Craig B - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 10:35 PM EST (#158683) #

The Diamondbacks signed Russ Ortiz for $33M following the 2003 season, and for that he gave them 138 innings with a nice round ERA of 7.00 (an ERA+ of approximately 62).

That's below replacement level, even in Arizona... Ortiz delivered -2 Win Shares for them.  We can safely call that no value, so Ortiz cost the D-Backs $33 million (maybe a little more, when you consider that if they hadn't paid him $33 million, they'd have gotten him the hell out of the rotation even sooner, but we'll call it $33 million).

Darren Dreifort, though, signed a $55 million deal with the Dodgers before the 2001 season, and delivered 26 OK starts and one poor season of middle relief in exchange.  I think Derifort's is the gold standard of bad contracts, because it was an obviously bad idea (a much worse idea than Ortiz's contract because he had pitched considerably worse in the prior three years than Ortiz had).  Dreifort delivered about $7-8 million of value (at top marginal rates) over the life of that contract, which left the Dodgers about $47 million in the hole.

Calling Ortiz's contract a bad idea at the time is a bit (just a bit) of revisionist history... 4 years at a touch over $8 million on average for a pretty solid #2 starter isn't a terrible deal.  Ortiz fell off a cliff because his strikeout rate cratered - his control got worse and he refused to deal with it by walking more guys (because he was already walking a lot of guys).

Sarge Lite could easily fail to deliver $22 million of value over the next five years (I think he'll deliver about that, actually) so he might match Ortiz, but he'd have to flame out pretty bad to have a worse contract than Dreifort.  I'd probably rather have Matthews at his price than Juan Pierre at his... in fact, you couldn't pay me to take Juan Pierre at this point, I think he has negative value since he wouldn't go to the bench (where his skills would be an asset) and he's a drag on 80% of teams if he plays.

Craig B - Friday, November 24 2006 @ 09:54 AM EST (#158692) #

Good catch.  I had remembered Park's contract as long but but particularly expensive, but that's crazy money.  However, we should remember that at the time Park was coming off two extremely good seasons and had a very high strikeout rate (helped by Dodger Stadium, though).  I thought he was going to be much better over that contract than he proved to be.  Still, no question he was pretty awful for most of it and he probably wasn't worth any more than $15 million over the course of it, even if you paid for his performance at free agent rates.

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