To channel Jerry Seinfeld: what’s the deal with teams going halfway?
Prospects are useful for one of two things in baseball: to plug into your lineup, giving you seven cost-controlled years of production or to trade for established major league players. The goal for teams with an open window is to move prospects for players who will help you win during the window. The goal for rebuilding teams is to accumulate prospects so you have a good, cost controlled, core of players to make a sustained push with.
Last year, however, we saw two teams decide to abandon a rebuild to create a window. The Blue Jays traded away the majority of their prospects for R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson. The offense-starved Royals traded away the crown jewel of their system in Wil Myers to acquire two years of James Shields. This creates a very small window in which these teams have a realistic shot of winning a title. Prospects that arrive after that window closes won’t help and, given the long term damage that was done to win now, they will support a future team that is going to need luck to compete.
Yet, having already made trades for now, both teams appear to be refusing to make more to help themselves. The Blue Jays desperately need a second baseman. Instead of using Aaron Sanchez as bait to get one, they get the lineup hole Chris Getz. He of the .220/.288/.273 (not a misprint) triple slash with the Royals last year. The Royals have one more year to win. They need offense in the worst way. (Their 648 runs scored last year put them behind EVERY TEAM in the A.L. East.) Yet, they address this need with a leadoff hitter (Norichika Aoki) and a second baseman with a career .402 slugging percentage (Omar Infante). Adalberto Mondesi is nowhere close to the majors. And, yet, no buzz whatsoever that he is headed out of town for a true offensive force.
What these franchises have managed to do is create teams that are marginally competitive today and will be marginally competitive tomorrow. Their fans deserve more than that.
- You may recall that a contract between the Orioles and Grant Balfour fell apart a few weeks ago. Now, Buster Olney is reporting that the contract fizzled because of problems with Balfour’s wrist and knee.
- MLB.com writes that 1B Mitch Moreland, who seemed to have nowhere to play after the Rangers acquired 1B Prince Fielder, may get the long end of a DH platoon.
- Apparently Delmon Young isn’t ready to retire. He signed a 1-year, minor league deal with Orioles. Last year Young split the season with the Phillies and the Rays, hitting .260/.307/.407.
- LHP Jeff Francis and ex-Cub OF Thomas Neal have signed contracts with the Reds.
- Ken Rosenthal reports that INF Michael Young, who played for the Phillies and the Dodgers last season, has offers from four teams, but is leaning towards retirement.
- I reported last week that LHP Derek Holland was going to miss significant time for the Rangers. It turns out that Holland is expected to be out until the All-Star break recovering from surgery. Tough break for the Rangers and for Holland.
- John discussed this some last week, but walking pull quote Nyjer Morgan has agreed to deal with the Cleveland Indians. Morgan spent last year in Japan.
- Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw — arguably the best pitcher in baseball today — signed a 7-year, $215 million extension. There really aren’t enough superlatives for Kershaw, who has finished first, second, and first and in the last three Cy Young races and led all of baseball in ERA those three seasons.
- Nice article by Jonathan Bernhardt on the free agent pitching market being held up by Masahiro Tanaka.
- David Price avoided arbitration but he is still get paid. The left-hander agreed with the Rays on a $14 million contract.
- Alex Rodriguez gave his first interview since the season long suspension was handed down. In it, he sounds like he doesn’t think the lawsuit is going to work. I’m torn on this. I have no love for ARod but I do take issue with the commissioner’s office cutting a deal with a drug dealer to pursue a personal vendetta against ARod and Ryan Braun. To me, all of this seems to be much more about cementing Selig’s legacy and less about catching drug users.
- Great picture of Clayton Kershaw and Matthew Stafford as high school teammates. Think that high school dominated the league?
- Jonah Keri at Grantland writes that Clayton Kershaw’s mega-contract may cause a revolt among the small revenue teams at the next CBA session. I would have more empathy for these guys if they hadn’t voted away their best chance of competing with the big market teams by agreeing to strict limits on draft and IFA spending to save money. After that, any revenue sharing they force on the big market teams looks like it’s all about the money and not about being competitive.
- Interesting quote from ESPN’s Jesse Sanchez on Masahiro Tanaka: Source tells me clubs have not heard back from Tanaka & nobody knows where they stand. Most had about 60 mins to make a case. No visits.
- The Marlins and slugger Giancarlo Stanton avoided arbitration. As Rosenthal points out, this is a coup for two sides that have been as antagonistic as they have.
- The Brewers seem to have their first baseman, signing Mark Reynolds to a minor league deal. Reynolds struggled last season, hitting .220/.306/.393 in a season split between the Indians and the Yankees. I really don’t understand what the Brewers are doing. They don’t have the talent or the funds to compete in the NL Central soon. But they keep adding the best pieces they can afford, guaranteeing themselves mediocrity. Signing Kyle Lohse and losing a pick in the 2013 draft was particularly questionable.
- I’ve stayed away from pre-arbitration deals because there are a lot of them and they don’t interest me that much. But this is special. Braves’ RHP Kris Medlan, a 10th round selection, agreed to a $5.8 million contract. (A raise from his $2.6 million salary last year.) Afterwards, he talked to the Journal Constitution’s David O’Brien about the size of the contract: “So surreal. I didn’t have much growing up. Had to fight for every opportunity I’ve ever gotten.”
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