We’ve gotten a couple of emails today in the wake of the Guardado signing, wondering essentially, “What does this mean for Rafael Soriano?” If you recall, every so often there’s talk — be it from coaches, front office, media, whomever — that Soriano has the “Closer of the Future” tag somewhere on his person. Now, personally I think that’s garbage, that he’d be much more valuable as a starter. But I digress.
I don’t think the M’s would have signed Guardado as their lefty setup man if they didn’t have concerns about Sasaki. Teams don’t generally have two closers sitting around, let alone three (two and a half, in the case of Shiggy?) like the M’s do currently. In some form or another — be it injury, ineffectiveness or a return to Japan — I think they expect, or are at least planning as though, Sasaki won’t be the closer for a significant period of time next season, and they certainly don’t expect that they’ll be picking up his $8M option for 2005.
Which brings us to Soriano. With Sasaki, Hasegawa and now Guardado on the roster, the chances of him closing games regularly over the next two or three years are extremely slim. To me that screams “rotation!” as his destination, be it this season (if Garcia gets the old non-tender) or next. In any event, to me his eventual future in the rotation appears much more certain at this point thanks to the signings of both Hasegawa and Guardado.
So… new Big Board, complete with Hasegawa and Guardado. Also, if you’re keeping track, the 40-man roster is now at 40 men (or 39 men and one boy, in the case of Willie Bloomquist) meaning the M’s won’t be able to select anyone in the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Ah well.
Guardado — they’re paying him too much money, but other than that he’s a pretty good pitcher. His numbers the past three seasons are extremely solid, including a nasty .195/.217/.262 line vs. left-handed batters. Over that same span (2001-03) he’s fanned just under nine hitters per nine innings (8.88, to be exact), a pretty good indication that he has something left, and his K:BB ratio comes in at a cool 3.58:1.
For those interested in pegging me with questions, I’m doing a chat at Baseball Prospectus tommorrow at noon EST (9 am pacific time). You can submit questions ahead of time, though. I’ll likely gravitate towards prospect questions, but will answer a few M’s related queries as well. Keep them brief, however.
I’d have preferred Rhodes, but the details of the contract make this a better signing than I’d imagined Guardado would be. According to the ESPN story, it is a 1 year contract with team and player options for 2005 and 2006. The main problem I have with locking up relievers is their inconsistency from year to year, and this gives the M’s an out clause if Guardado turns into crap overnight. I’d imagine the buyout probably isn’t more than $500,000, so absolute worst case scenario, this is a 1 year, $5 million deal. Its overpaying, but its not tying up future salaries with a dead-weight contract.
Well, it appears as if Arthur Rhodes has been replaced by one Eddie Guardado. The P-I’s John Hickey is reporting that a three-year, $14M deal will be finalized this week. I was surprised to see that Guardado is actually a year younger than Rhodes… I had thought he was a year or two older. In any event:
Guardado, age 33, ~$4M 2004 salary
Sasaki, 36, $8M
Hasegawa, 35, ~$3M
So much for a youth/bargain movement, eh? And did I mention he’ll cost yet another draft pick? I have to tell you, I’m having a hard time getting excited about what Bavasi has accomplished during his short tenure in Seattle.