Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Has the World Gone Mad?

While the offseason is still relatively young, it's beginning to look like a player's market is developing.  First, former Blue Jays catcher John Buck (yes, the same John Buck with a career .302 OBP) signs a 3 year $18M contract with the Marlins.  Then, oft-injured 32 year old middle reliever Joaquin Benoit signs a 3 year $16.5M contract with the Tigers.  Yes, I'm sure both of those signings will work out beautifully.  They won't look foolish at all.  These are some pretty eye popping contract figures for some pretty ho-hum players.  The scary thing is that we haven't heard anything about potential offers for the big guns:  Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, and Jayson Werth. 

Now, Peter Abrahams is reporting that the Oakland A's have offered Adrian Beltre a 5 year $64M deal.  In a way, I'm not surprised.  Beane went after Beltre pretty hard last year.  In the end, he lost out to the Red Sox despite offering Beltre more money.*  I'm sure that left a bitter taste in his mouth.  Now, that Beltre's back on the market, he seems determined to bring him to Oakland.  It makes sense.  The A's are in desperate need for a right handed, power hitting corner infielder, and Beltre fits the bill perfectly.  That said, I'm surprised that a team, as cash strapped as the A's have been, are willing to commit so much money to a fringe All-Star.  Yes, the contract fits in quite nicely with my five year value assessment for Beltre ($63.3M), but I have to imagine there are better ways for a low payroll/low revenue team to spend $13M per season. 

*Has a Boras client ever been offered more money from one team, only to take less with another?  Seriously.  I want to know.  This seems counter-intuitive to everything I know about Boras.

Now, we get to the interesting question.  If the A's are willing to go 5 years $64M, what are the other teams willing to offer?  The Red Sox have reportedly drawn a line in the sand at 4 years $52M (although Epstein has openly denied it).  Other than that, no other offers have been reported.  Jon Heyman tweeted there are twelve teams that are interested.  I have no doubt that there are many teams interested in obtaining Beltre's services, but I'm hard pressed to find twelve of them that are seriously interested.  I can count ten that have a need for a third baseman:  A's, Red Sox, Angels, Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, Twins, White Sox, Astros, and Marlins.  Now, let's remove the teams that aren't serious players for Beltre.  That takes away the Marlins, Blue Jays, Indians, probably the Twins and Astros.  That leaves five teams.  Maybe Heyman was using hyperbole, but I tend to think he's full of crap.  That's just me. 

The four teams I named as (potential) serious players for Beltre, all have large enough budgets to offer Beltre more than the A's offer of 5 years $64M.  Scott Boras mentioned earlier this week that he thinks Beltre could potentially land a deal close to 5 years $90M.  Personally, I think he's dreaming.  That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see a deal close to 5 years $75M.  I'm not sure it's wise, but it looks like the average cost of a win on the free agent market could skyrocket for 2011.  If it does, that contract just might be worth it.

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