Somewhere Scott Boras Is Grinning

J.D. DREW / MLB.COM

The free agent market has exploded right before our eyes, a mind-boggling array of signings and commitments that will surely haunt teams and their payrolls for years to come. Players projected to receive as high as 35 million this winter have been rewarded with deals extending way past any expectations. Guys who spent their entire careers as average outfielders and peaked in a contract year find themselves in the upper-tier of players salaries. It??s been a November that will be remembered. The Brewers owner Mark Attanasio was quoted today saying the free agent market is “nsane.”
Exhibit A is Juan Pierre, possibly the most gruesome investment of the winter thus far. Not only did the Dodgers overpay in excess, but they could have easily just gobbled up Kenny Lofton for about 12 million over 2 years, at the most. Here are the numbers:
Lofton: .301/.360/.403, 32/37 SB, .272 EqA, 3.0 WARP
Pierre: .292/.330/.388, 58/78 SB, .249 EqA, 3.8 WARP

Instead, the Dodgers signed Pierre for 5 years and 44 million, guaranteeing them the obligation of paying this centerfielder 10 million when he??s 32 and 33 years old, according to the contract. Ned Colletti may have struck gold with guys like Andre Ethier, Nomar Garciaparra and Wilson Betemit, but this deal seems like borderline insanity. The facts are this: Pierre never draws walks (one season of 50+), his arm in center is below average, he??s 30 years old and starting to hit the decline and will be earning 9 million with the value of a pinch runner in 2010. Great job, Ned! Make sure to leave room on the bench for one of either Matt Kemp, James Loney or Andre Eithier, the guys with real talent and ability.
Exhibit B is Gary Matthews Jr, whose 50 million over 5 years from the Angels is stunning when you consider he??s been a fourth outfielder his entire career but one season, which happened to be the campaign he??s playing for a new contract. Get this, folks: In over 2,400 major league AB??s before 2006, Matthews had a career line of .249/.324/.397. Those are Alex Cora numbers, not someone about to earn 10M annually from a contender.
Where else can we look but Exhibit C, the next Mo Vaughn, none other than Carlos Lee, who elected to stay in Texas rather than head to Baltimore or San Fran. His 6 year, 100 million dollar contract with Houston gives the team a much-needed impact power bat in the middle of their lineup, but is the longevity of the contract and the cash given necessary? Lee is an awful left fielder, and sure Minute Maid Park will help, but the picture of Lee pulling a hamstring running for a double down the line isn??t that difficult to fathom. He doesn??t project to age well, as slow, slugging right-handed hitters signing 6 year deals usually translates into a regrettable decision.
And finally, the grand daddy of all the contract given this November is Alfonso Soriano. There is no denying Soriano put up tremendous numbers in a pitchers park. His .560 slugging percentage, along with 46 HR and 41 SB, coupled with his numbers getting even better in Wrigley Field made the Cubs feel like this would be a good investment. Unfortunately, this contract is out of control and completely the opposite of what Chicago should have targeted this winter.
You know where the Cubs finished in the NL in OBP last season? Dead last.
You know Alfonso Soriano??s career OBP? .320.
You know how much they??ll be paying Soriano? 17 million for the next 8 seasons.
You know how old Soriano is right now? 30 years old.
Has Soriano ever played centerfield in his career? No sir.
Luckily, and almost selfishly, our favorite team doesn??t have to deal with that specific issue. Still, with the market this high, Theo will have to overpay. His job is finding the right players to overpay.
I rest my case. This market has exploded to undeniably crazy proportions. With the luxury tax increasing with every season, more GM??s will attempt to trade away upcoming free agents the year before they hit the market to try and get some value in return (example is the Doug Davis trade that went down Saturday). Small-market teams will find it even more difficult to sign impact players with guys like Pierre and Matthews getting 50 million when they should be receiving 25 million instead. Luckily, and almost selfishly, our favorite team doesn??t have to deal with that specific issue. Still, with the market this high, Theo will have to overpay. His job is finding the right players to overpay.
Is Julio Lugo worth 40 million over 4 years? Probably not. His career year was in 2005 when Lugo hit .295/.362/.403 for Tampa. If the Sox can get that out of Lugo in 07, I??ll be ecstatic. But are those numbers worth 10 million, along with suspect defense? Any other year, I??d shake my head with defiance. Now, I??m not so sure. As down as I am about Lugo in Boston, with no other options available, I??m starting to think 4/40 could be a bargain.
Is J.D. Drew worth 65 million over 5 years? Probably not. He has an injury history, is 31 years old, and comes with some baggage. Drew has posted exceptional OBP??s the last three years: .436, .412, .393. While the slugging has declined the last three years, .498 is acceptable for a 5 hitter behind Manny and Ortiz. Once again, 5/60 doesn??t look all that bad.
Based purely on estimation, we could have Matsuzaka for 4 years and 52 million, Drew for 5 years and 65 million and Lugo for 4 years and 40 million. That??s a whole lot of investment. What I??ve learned is that this off-season is about overpaying for the right guys. All three of those players are overpaid, but are they the right fits for Boston? I say yes. And that’s what it really comes down to.

Categories: Carlos Lee Gary Matthews Jr. J.D. Drew Juan Pierre Kenny Lofton

17 Responses to “Somewhere Scott Boras Is Grinning” Subscribe

  1. MikeQ October 9, 2005 at 6:27 PM #

    "And since Chicago has nothing at the major-league level to offer in return for Ramirez, I really don't think the cash is going to be an issue. What, we're going to give away one of the 5 best hitters in baseball, and we're going to pay Chicago to take him, too?
    I don't think so."
    Exactly my point. The White Sox won't take on a guy who might not be one of the top 5 hitters in the league in three years unless they can get him for less than $60 million. $40 million is probably as high as they would go. That money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is Boston.
    In order to make the trade worth it for the BoSox, they'd have to get some real talent in return: As you say, the White Sox have no talent at the major league level, and little talent on their roster. This is a major problem, especially in the playoffs…why isn't anyone talking about this?
    But I wouldn't call this trade dead. The Chisox are willing to work with declining sluggers (they almost acquired Ken Griffey Jr's contract at the deadline) and occasional headcases, including Carl Everett, Jose Contreras, Frank Thomas, AJ Pierzynski, and Bobby Jenks…it's a shame they haven't got the talent to make a deal work.

  2. RH November 27, 2006 at 4:20 AM #

    I'm a little surprised that the Sox are now thinking 5-year deal for Drew. 3yrs $45M sounds better than 5yrs $65M in Drew's case, but as you're implying, Scott Boras will get his way with that one.
    Matsuzaka for 4 years instead of 3 would be awesome, especially if it's for $13M per season.
    But Lugo I'm not so sure about.
    And one other thing that's bothering me; by the time they're done, the Sox might have ZERO high-round draft picks left in the 2007 MLB First Year Player draft. Definitely not a good thing, considering how much Theo likes to build the future through the draft.

  3. josh November 27, 2006 at 4:25 AM #

    Zero high-round? I'm assuming Drew's a Type-A…but what's Lugo? And what about possible bullpen fillers, guys like Borowski?

  4. RH November 27, 2006 at 5:47 AM #

    When I said "high-round", I meant "first-round" — sorry for the confusion.
    Borowski could actually be a type-A — 36 saves qualifies, I think. But I get your point.
    I might be wrong but I think Matsuzaka is also considered a type-A — I heard it someplace and assumed it was so, but…
    I'm in San Fran and I heard the Giants have expressed "strong interest" in Manny. They have NOTHING to trade though — Kevin Frandsen, Armando Benitez, or Noah Lowry, anyone? Sorry.
    Why does everyone think that if Drew is in, Manny's out?

  5. Quo November 27, 2006 at 5:54 AM #

    There's many reasons why signing Matsuzaka will not result in the Sox losing a draft choice, not the least of which is there being no appropriate team for the Sox to lose said draft choice to.

  6. mouse November 27, 2006 at 6:11 AM #

    I'll be very surprised if Drew gets five years if he does sign with the Sox. As far as I know, Theo has yet to dole out a five-year contract during his tenure, and that even includes a franchise player (and Boras client) in Jason Varitek. Maybe an option year will be on there, but a guaranteed fifth year would seem to fly in the face of company policy. I think they'd rather offer Drew a higher annual salary than a longer contract, which is what I'd be more comfortable with as well.

  7. josh November 27, 2006 at 6:29 AM #

    Quo's right…Matsuzaka doesn't cost Boston a pick. That was most likely part of his appeal. I'd actually like to sit down and figure out what Boston's 08 draft would look like if Drew, Lugo, and let's say Borowski all sign. Like I'm not really sure how many 1st round picks they have right now because of FA compensation from last year, so I don't know if signing 2 or 3 Type A's would really hurt that much. Something to think about/research when it isn't 2:20 AM :)

  8. Sam November 27, 2006 at 3:17 PM #

    JH, does the name Matt Cain ring a bell?
    And please don't let's sign Joe Borowski. Please.

  9. Dave B November 27, 2006 at 3:34 PM #

    Don't worry about the high draft picks. While we may sign multple Type A players, we are also losing acouple, Rudy Seanez, Mark Loretta and some Type B Trot Nixon, Alex Gonzalez, and Doug Mirabelli.

  10. Tim Daloisio November 27, 2006 at 5:38 PM #

    I think this statement is right on:
    "His job is finding the right players to overpay."
    There is no doubt that Theo will have some people on his roster at the great contracts (Papelbon, Youkilis, Coco), some at really good contracts (Beckett, Ortiz), and some will be overpaid (Manny, Lowell, Foulke).
    The key is using the money you save on the really good contracts to overpay for incremental value on the ones you have to go over for. Then to minimize the long term effects of that overspending. $14 million might not be too much for Drew this year, but in two years it will be way too much.
    Tim
    Red Sox Times

  11. Jared K November 27, 2006 at 6:07 PM #

    The Pierre and Matthews Jr contracts make me hope they hold onto Coco and hope he can get back to .300/15hrs/30+ steals…with his contract if he can bounce back and we determine Ellsbury is ready for 2008 (or post August 2007) we could get a bounty for him. Another reason to resign Trot over JD Drew and spend the money elsewhere. If they do sign Drew however, maybe Manny to the Giants, Cain and Crisp to the Rangers and Texeira to Boston. Of course a prospect or two would probably need to switch hands as well.
    In regards to the compensation all sigings would count towards this years draft, the first type A we signed would result in that team getting a 1st round pick, after that I believe any other Type A's signed only result in sandwhich 1st rounders…they do not carry over to 2008 from my understanding. Plus the Sox have done a nice job drafting and signing difficult signs (L. Anderson, T. Wheeden, etc). In addition to the Loretta compensation pick they could just overpay a couple of tough signs to continue feeding their farm system.

  12. josh November 27, 2006 at 8:15 PM #

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=26776
    I'm a little nervous now. The article says Boston seems to be lowering its demands to facilitate a deal. I will say that if they somehow talked the Dodgers into handing over Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, and Andy Laroche…well I'd be OK with something like that. Even 2/3 wouldn't be bad.

  13. Mike November 27, 2006 at 6:48 PM #

    4 years, $40 million for Julio Lugo?
    Why don't the Red Sox save a step and just pay Lugo $3 million a year to play somewhere else like they did with Theo's last shortstop crush, Edgar Renteria. A Lugo signing for $40 million is foolish. Have you seen the man play the infield?
    Theo replaced Pedro and Lowe with Matt Clement and David Wells…
    then Theo replaced Johnny Damon with Coco Crisp…
    …now Theo wants to replace Manny Ramirez with Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew? Strike me dead for saying it, but "THEO, STOP MESSING WITH DAN DUQUETTE'S TEAM!"

  14. Mike November 27, 2006 at 10:47 PM #

    4 years, $40 million for Julio Lugo?
    Why don’t the Red Sox save a step and just pay Lugo $3 million a year to play somewhere else like they did with Theo’s last shortstop crush, Edgar Renteria. A Lugo signing for $40 million is foolish. Have you seen the man play the infield?
    Theo replaced Pedro and Lowe with Matt Clement and David Wells…
    then Theo replaced Johnny Damon with Coco Crisp…
    …now Theo wants to replace Manny Ramirez with Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew? Strike me dead for saying it, but “THEO, STOP MESSING WITH DAN DUQUETTE’S TEAM!”

  15. Mike November 27, 2006 at 10:48 PM #

    4 years, $40 million for Julio Lugo?
    Why don’t the Red Sox save a step and just pay Lugo $3 million a year to play somewhere else like they did with Theo’s last shortstop crush, Edgar Renteria. A Lugo signing for $40 million is foolish. Have you seen the man play the infield?
    Theo replaced Pedro and Lowe with Matt Clement and David Wells…
    then Theo replaced Johnny Damon with Coco Crisp…
    …now Theo wants to replace Manny Ramirez with Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew? Strike me dead for saying it, but “THEO, STOP MESSING WITH DAN DUQUETTE’S TEAM!”

  16. RH November 28, 2006 at 3:00 AM #

    I'm VERY worried about the recent article saying the Sox aren't close to a deal with Matsuzaka. Is Theo just lowballing for now or are they really going to be that stingy? We NEED him BADLY!

  17. jonny258 December 12, 2006 at 3:31 PM #

    jonny624