Gonzalez Signs With Toronto – Scutaro or Bust!!!

Red Sox vs. Royals
Though the Red Sox will be seeing plenty of Alex Gonzalez next season, it won’t be in a Red Sox uniform, as their ultimate fail-safe signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. It’s never a good sign to see Plan B go off the market - or Plan C/D/F for that matter - as the Sox’ shortstop options are dwindling, meaning that they are all the more likely to go hard after Scutaro for a contract much more favorable to player than to team. At the off-season’s beginning, the team could select from any of Hardy, Stephen Drew, Scutaro, or a Gonzalez-Lowrie timeshare. Now, with both J.J. Hardy and Gonzalez off the table and Arizona clinging hard to Drew, the Sox’ options have become alarmingly limited to a shot at a trade with Diamondbacks or duking it out with Scutaro’s many admirers.
Red Sox vs. Royals

Though the Red Sox will be seeing plenty of Alex Gonzalez next season, it won’t be in a Red Sox uniform, as their ultimate fail-safe signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. It’s never a good sign to see Plan B go off the market – or Plan C/D/F for that matter – as the Sox’ shortstop options are dwindling, meaning that they are all the more likely to go hard after Scutaro for a contract much more favorable to player than to team.

At the off-season’s beginning, the team could select from any of Hardy, Stephen Drew, Scutaro, or a Gonzalez-Lowrie timeshare. Now, with both J.J. Hardy and Gonzalez off the table and Arizona clinging hard to Drew, the Sox’ options have become alarmingly limited to a shot at a trade with Diamondbacks or duking it out with Scutaro’s many admirers.

The leverage on the side of Scutaro and Arizona is now significantly higher than last week and Lowrie incapable of being trusted with a full-time job, perhaps the biggest effect of this trade is how it affects the outlook of the remaining free agents and trade candidates.

Any time a secondary option like Gonzalez is taken off the market, the teams left standing feel an uncomfortable squeeze. Even if that said player is not the top dog, the dynamics of the market change significantly when teams have fewer safety nets.

Perhaps the easiest way to visualize this effect is to think of the show “Deal or No Deal”. The Red Sox, to dismay of viewers everywhere, have just lost their $50,000 case with only the $500,000 seed standing between them and financial ruin. And, true to life and TV, the drama gets all the more entertaining when crazy personalities are combined with poor judgment and rapid-fire decision making.

Such is the state of off-season MLB negotiations.

It’s too bad we can’t see into the war room when J.P. Ricciardi stutters, capitulates, and… ZONK! agrees to a seventh year with Vernon Wells amidst the horrified stares of onlookers and high-fiving of player and agent. Like the formula to a hit-TV show, pressure, money, and the threat of bankruptcy will always force people into irrational, regrettable decisions.

And we, the media, will eat it up and spit it out faster than The Soup.

Good thing Theo seems like a calm guy. And, even better, that this team is able to buy its way out of almost any hardship that may face it.

Will the team bring home a donkey? Doubtful. But Scutaro is moving from the category of “rental” to “overpriced purchase” very quickly.

With that said, I can’t hide my excitement to see Scutaro in a Red Sox uniform. However, a guaranteed third year for a free agent of his age makes the deal much more precarious. A third year with a club option would be the best case scenario at this point, though that may be a bit much to ask.

The top – and maybe only – option at this juncture is the signing of Scutaro to whatever contract is demanded by this weak market. With added negotiating power on the player side of the table, Scutaro should be able to secure a third year in his contract, serving to the detriment of the Red Sox 0- his age and short history of success make him a less-than-attractive roll of the dice over three years.

Nearly as interesting as the Scutaro free agency is the building lamentation over “blocking” shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias from reaching Boston. Sure, a three-year deal may delay Iglesias’ arrival by one season – at most – it may actually be a good move for his development. Whereas the team could sign a free agent at the end of the second season, Iglesias would be blocked by a longer contract. If anything, the signing of Scutaro to a third year would increase the likelihood that Iglesias will stick with the team. A two year development period for a 19 year old whose only professional experience is an ongoing stint in the AFL is a very optimistic projection. Even if he were to be ready at the end of two seasons, one additional year in the minors won’t hurt anyone and could even improve his career outlook.

And, lest we forget the lessons of the past, prospects offer no guarantees. Therefore, any move made – based on the future of a player at least three years away from the majors – is a fool’s errand.

Either way, the Red Sox’ 2010 starting shortstop is looking more and more like Marco Scutaro by the day, with the off-chance of a Miguel Tejada or Orlando Cabrera. Sure, that $500,000 case is still on the board. But, after that one, there isn’t a whole lot left. Too bad there’s no Banker to balance the equation.

At the Hardball Times, Evan takes a look at Toronto’s master stroke in signing Gonzalez.

Categories: Alex Gonzalez Boston Red Sox Marco Scutaro Toronto Blue Jays

59 Responses to “Gonzalez Signs With Toronto – Scutaro or Bust!!!” Subscribe

  1. bob November 27, 2009 at 9:26 AM #

    Sctuaro is 33 years old and just put up the only park-adjusted ops in his career over 100. Rather than give up a draft pick for him, I'd rather just go with Lowrie and pray that he doesn't get hurt. Honestly, the Sox aren't winning anything next year anyways barring some miracle trade for Gonzales or Cabrera so might as well hold on tot our draft picks.

  2. jeff November 27, 2009 at 10:47 AM #

    where have all the good shortstops gone? it's a sad situation where a 33 year-old utility player is the top guy out there. there is no way i would lock this guy up for 3 years and forfeit top draft picks for him. take a step back, he's not that good. theo's revolving door at shortstop shows no signs of slowing down…

  3. Russ in Methuen November 27, 2009 at 11:46 AM #

    Go after Drew in Arizona. I don't see ant other choice. Theo has been stymied again by his "waiting game" antics. Adam Everett would be a stopgap for now and much cheaper than Scutaro.

  4. GJacques November 27, 2009 at 11:47 AM #

    I'm a Torontonian who is crushed to be losing Scutaro. If your team gets him, you'll love him. After years of playing utility, he worked his ass-off for us to prove himself. He's a fantasic player and you should be proud to have him on your team. Your comments make me even angrier that our team is letting him go to people who don't want him when we love him so much. :(

    • Anonymous November 27, 2009 at 6:54 AM #

      If he is so special why is Toronto not keeping him?

  5. Troy Patterson November 27, 2009 at 11:56 AM #

    I have no interest in Scutaro. Why was Gonzalez the only option? Adam Everett is the same player who might even come cheaper. He has an even better glove and his bat stumbled in 2009, but he would be splitting time with Lowrie anyway.

    • evanbrunell November 27, 2009 at 2:19 PM #

      Everett is NOT the same player. They do not compare offensively. It's not even close.

      • Jake November 27, 2009 at 3:28 PM #

        Everett/Gonzalez career splits are .245/.297/.351 and .247/.294/.395 (avg/obp/slg). Gonzalez seems to have an edge in slugging, but their differences in UZR/150 (18.3 vs 6.9 career) makes up for it.

  6. Russ in Methuen November 27, 2009 at 11:58 AM #

    If he is so special why would Toronto let him go? He is not worth 3 years and a 1st round pick.

    • ericinboston November 27, 2009 at 8:29 PM #


      • Russ in Methuen November 27, 2009 at 8:42 PM #

        Smart man ERICINBOSTON

  7. GJacques November 27, 2009 at 1:28 PM #

    Do you know how many shortstops recorded more walks than Marco Scutaro did in 2009 with 90? None.

    Do you know how many shortstops scored more runs than his 100? Three — Derek Jeter (107), Hanley Ramirez (101) and Troy Tulowitzki (101). That's good company to be keeping.

    Do you know how many shortstops had a better on base percentage than Scutaro (at .379)? Three — Ramirez (.410) and Jeter (.406) again, along with AL All-Star Jason Bartlett (.389).

    • Daern November 27, 2009 at 2:38 PM #

      That's one year, ma man. Ever heard of career years?

    • Dave L November 27, 2009 at 2:56 PM #

      first off, it's no guarantee that he's coming to the red sox, far from it in fact.
      second, come up with something else, you cite walks, and then you cite OBP……thats like saying someone is a great base stealer, and then saying he also has a great stolen base percentage.

    • C'MonMan November 27, 2009 at 3:28 PM #

      but the Sox would be giving a 3 year deal that would bring him into 35/36 years of age… for a SS. can't help but think he'll have a decent 2010 before a steep decline renders him back to his previous utility role. 1st rounders are overrated as well. i am a bit sick of hearing about that.

      how many 1st rounders are there from this crop of home grown talent. would it suffice to say that there are more NON-1st rd picks than 1st rd picks?

      • C'MonMan November 27, 2009 at 3:38 PM #

        of the Sox top 20 prospects http://www.soxprospects.com/ only Casey Kelley (1) and Reymond Fuentes (15) are 1st rounders; with Michael Bowden in 1st supplemental round. the other 1st rounders are Jason Place (29) and Ryan Dent (34). the top 20 on that list are dominantly International Free Agents and the rest came obviously in later rounds. So lets not put too much stock in 1st rounders. they cost more to sign and obviously don't have the greater track record in this organization

    • Russ in Methuen November 27, 2009 at 8:37 PM #

      Again frenchy, then why did Toronto not re-sign him?

      • Daern November 28, 2009 at 1:01 AM #

        Because at this stage, as a team that wont be in the top two or three for the next few years, they need the draft picks more.

  8. evanbrunell November 27, 2009 at 2:21 PM #

    I've maintained for a long time that Scutaro on a two-year deal may represent Boston's best option at shortstop if we're looking through a short-term prism. (Before we signed Iglesias and he started getting hyped, I was advocating pursuing a long-term solution like Stephen Drew.) If this news causes us to dangle a club option for a third year, so be it. I'm with Mike when I say that a two-year path to the majors is terribly optimistic. Hell, people are saying Iglesias could start for us in 2011, nevermind 2012. He's 19. He may be a defensive wizard, but let's take a step back here and not rush what could be our answer to the shortstop revolving door.

    • evanbrunell November 27, 2009 at 2:34 PM #
      • Gerry November 27, 2009 at 3:06 PM #

        Good article on Toronto's coup. The new GM seems astute and able to make complex decisions quickly, which doesn't bode well for a Halladay trade. On a related note, the tide which just elevated Scutaro also floats Nick Green's boat higher, as someone who had clearly adjusted to the SS position by season end, and has good value to any team looking for a 2b, 3b, SS, OF, (RP) utility player, especially the Red Sox, if Jed starts in AAA. If Nick is invited to ST and repeats last year's first half offensive wonder, with improved glove and comfort level, then Theo should extend the invitation.

        That said, late blooming Scutaro is an excellent defender and a bit above average hitter. Before the Gonzo move, Marco ($1.1M in '09) might have been available at 3/$9MM, what the Sox pay Julio to not play for a year. Expect that to be nearer 3/$12MM, which is still a deal. If, by 2011-2012, Lowrie rebounds, as he should, or if Iglesias comes on as he could, and Marco, at age 35-36, regresses to his averages, then he returns to the utility role for a year or so, and the SS and utility positions are fixed for a decade, effective 4/1/10. That's an effective yet inexpensive resolution to what has been, in more ways than one, a costly problem.

        • evanbrunell November 27, 2009 at 3:14 PM #

          I didn't consider the implications with Nick Green. That's a good thought — I'll have to look more into it, but Nick Green absolutely could be a viable alternative, if not a better solution that Adam Everett. Sounds like a future article to me.

      • Russ in Methuen November 27, 2009 at 8:44 PM #

        Not if the sox sign Lackey first.

      • Russ in Methuen November 27, 2009 at 8:54 PM #

        Not if the sox sign Lackey first

  9. Amanda November 27, 2009 at 2:42 PM #

    The problem with Scutaro is how much are the Red Sox willing to pay this guy?

    Remember Julio Lugo?

    Remember Edgar Renteria?

    Hopefully this won't be another example of being desperate and overpaying for a 34-year-old shortstop.

  10. _Marcos_ November 27, 2009 at 5:35 PM #

    What's wrong with OCab?

    • M.A.G. November 27, 2009 at 4:55 PM #

      Miguel Tejada is a better option than O-Cab.

    • ericinboston November 27, 2009 at 8:34 PM #

      gordon edes addressed that in his mailbag…

      cabrera isn't the same player he used to be aaaand it's said he left on very bad terms when he wasn't brought back.

      just doesn't make alot of sense… he's not as good as scutaro and he's older.

      • _Marcos_ November 28, 2009 at 12:01 AM #

        Yea but OCab has always been an everyday player and he's got a ring. Scutaro is a utility player. Scutaro=Garry Mathews Jr. Like Scutaro, Mathews Jr was a bench player before he was given enough playing to amassed what looked to be a career year.

  11. M.A.G. November 27, 2009 at 5:47 PM #

    Scutaro is a mystery for me. At first look he is the best SS in the FA markett, but I cannot just ignore the fact 2009 has being the only good year of his career. I think he has being hitting over his head this year, and he is bound to regress. And given the SS markett, he is gonna be expensive in money and years. I simply don't like the idea of signing him for three years. Like I said, I don't trust in his hitting, and his defense is not gonna improve with age.

    So, I'm more inclined to sign Miguel Tejada for one year, than Scutaro for three.

    • _Marcos_ November 27, 2009 at 11:36 PM #

      You got it twisted. Tejada is more likely to sign for 3 years than Scutaro is for 1 year.

      • M.A.G. November 28, 2009 at 6:30 AM #

        If that's the case, then I vote for Scutaro.

        I'm not really worried about the price. Boston has money. I'm worried about the LENGHT of the contract. I don't want to be stuck with another Lugo.

        • evanbrunell November 29, 2009 at 10:15 AM #

          I think Marcos has it twisted, actually. Scutaro's definitely getting 2, maybe 3. Tejada's definitely getting 1, probably 2.

          • M.A.G. November 29, 2009 at 6:29 AM #

            That's what I thoght.

            Tejada for one year is probably the best case scenario in my opinion. The guy is old, and his glove is suspect, but at least his hitting remains solid, so I think he can be a decent stop-gag.

            And probably Tejada is gonna be more inclined to give a one year deal to the Red Sox. I think the guy is obsessed with a ring, and his best chance is in Boston.

          • Shane November 29, 2009 at 11:25 AM #

            I agree with Evan. Tejada has got to "prove" himself.

  12. ericinboston November 27, 2009 at 11:50 PM #

    khalil greene is another shitty shortstop available… let's sign him

  13. PAF November 28, 2009 at 12:58 AM #

    Why is it that Theo is still half heartedly working at covering the Shortstop position. Toronto was able to secure Gonzalez at a reasonable price and he had performed reasonably at both defense and offense. Considering that Lowell at Third base last year didn't have the production at the plate and didn't have the defense of the past, and why are we gambling with unknowns at the other positions?

    Did Theo even try to secure Gonzalez at the lower rate?

    Now we are faced with a left infield that will give up lots of runs and a line up that stil doesn't have great production.

    • C'MonMan November 28, 2009 at 2:53 PM #

      anyone see the rumor about Josh Johnson? what will it take to get him to Boston?

  14. C'MonMan November 28, 2009 at 2:56 PM #

    Bard, Kelley, Lars, Kalish for Josh Johnson?

    • evanbrunell November 29, 2009 at 2:13 PM #

      JJ isn't being traded, but that doesn't get it done. Add in Buchholz, and probably.

      • Shane November 29, 2009 at 11:28 AM #

        How long till Buchholz reaches arb?

        • evanbrunell November 29, 2009 at 11:54 AM #

          He begins arb after 2010.

  15. Jro54 November 28, 2009 at 5:48 PM #

    I almost never disagree with Theo, but I am beyond BS that he did not sign AGon to a two year, 5-6 mil deal. The guy loves playing for the Red Sox and so what if he bats 9th. His defense alone is worth more than Scutaros whole package. I'm fuming over this. Theo just made a big mistake and put himself in a bad position.

    Scutaro had an AVERAGE year this year and its the only season of his career he has been even that.

    What choice do we have now though? Tejada is going to get more money and still cost us a draft pick. Khalil Greene used to be good. Maybe he can still play a bit. Other than that there isnt much at all.

    …Theo you messed up

  16. Sean O November 28, 2009 at 6:01 PM #

    Noooo to Scutaro. It's yet another SS disaster waiting to happen. We simply cannot keep overpaying for mediocre players. Either go for someone who can contribute, or someone from the farm.

    • M.A.G. November 29, 2009 at 4:18 AM #

      The problem is, I don't think we have an option from the farm. Lowrie looks like an injury waiting to happen right now. I don't know if he can handle the position for a whole season.

      I'm not too excited about Scutaro either, but the question is: what are the alternatives?

      • evanbrunell November 29, 2009 at 10:11 AM #

        I would be totally fine with Scutaro if it was a two year deal. I'm not even completely opposed to three. What I'm curious about, and will shape my decision, is the salary numbers.

        • Sean O November 29, 2009 at 6:46 PM #

          There is no excuse to give up 2 draft picks for Scutaro, even if we were paying the MLB minimum. Drafting is the one thing this front office has generally been pretty good in, why blow chances?

          • evanbrunell November 29, 2009 at 6:54 PM #

            Eh, the Red Sox of all teams probably don't highly value their No. 1. They have strong drafts regardless. Someone else in this comment thread ran down the names. Is it nice? Yes. MUST WE HANG ONTO IT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD? No. We have the luxury of paying above-slot. Actually, most of our studs come in the non-1st round.

            That's not even factoring in a possible signing of Holliday, Lackey or Soriano and giving up a 2nd rounder.

            PS: We give up 1. No one counts the supplemental, because it's… well, the supplemental. There is something to be said about pushing back later draft choices, but the supplemental choice is happening regardless of team, so…

  17. Nate November 28, 2009 at 6:30 PM #

    Would anyone be interested in Ryan Theriot? (Cubs fan here). Starlin Castro is likely to make the big leagues this year, and the Cubs have told Theriot he will move to 2b (although he posted positive uzr and uzr/150 at SS this year). The Cubs have a couple holes and no money, so they must improve through trade.

    • Kurt November 28, 2009 at 6:45 PM #

      I think if the asking price was reasonable, the sox would have to consider Theriot. Although not a stand out in any one area, he is a sold everyday player with a bit of speed. At the very least, he would make an acceptable stop-gap and is more palatable than most other options out there, particularly if the cubs would be looking for primarily salary relief. Maybe a Theriot for Bowden plus $$ swap?

      • evanbrunell November 29, 2009 at 10:13 AM #

        I think Bowden is done as a trade chip and is now more of a throw-in flyer type player. I don't anticipate the Cubs being at all interested. They wouldn't trade a starting player for a question mark in pitching. For them to move Theriot, they must get something of equal value in return. In Boston's case, that would be someone like… actually, there's no real good comparable.

        • Nate November 29, 2009 at 11:16 PM #

          While I'm not suggesting he's equal value, Hendry would ask for Ellsbury first because the Cubs are dying to fill CF. Perhaps Theriot + prospect? You're right though, the Cubs are going to want something dependable (and affordable) in return.

          • Dave L November 30, 2009 at 10:59 AM #

            trading ellsbury for theriot makes NO SENSE. not only do the cubs get an amazing deal, but it fills one hole for the red sox only to open up an even bigger one. It'd be more likely to see the sox trade a second tier minor league arm. Maybe not Bowden, but someone along those lines.

  18. Shane November 28, 2009 at 7:25 PM #

    The fact that it was only a one year deal for Gonzalez pisses me off most. Scutaro might work out great next year, but three will just be a bad investment.

  19. C'MonMan November 28, 2009 at 9:33 PM #

    wow those Josh Johnson rumors came and went quickly : (

  20. troy November 28, 2009 at 11:16 PM #

    The red sox Will contend next year.

  21. Dave L November 29, 2009 at 12:28 AM #

    im gonna throw something out there. dustin pedroia to short. only for one year. I know that he's obviously better as a second baseman, but we could sign someone like felipe lopez (only a type B) or swing a trade for someone like dan uggla, who i'm actually not a huge fan of but he does produce, or kelly johnson, who may be made available by the braves.

    • Dave L December 1, 2009 at 1:51 PM #

      totally called the pedroia thing- see peter gammons report


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