Since he’s the target of a host of uncited rumors, here’s the mini-article on Richie Sexson.
Richie Sexson is perhaps the sluggingest of the sluggers in baseball right now. He’s a huge man, 6’8 and about 240 pounds of long ball launching power. He came up through the Indians system in the late 90’s, blocked by Jim Thome at first base. The Tribe sent him to Milwaukee for a host of mediocre, injured relievers in one of John Hart’s worst moves. He blossomed into an elite hitter in his prime with the Brewers, peaking at a huge .272/.379/.548 season in 2003. He also established himself as one of the premier defensive first baseman in the game, and the combination of offense and defense he brought to the table in 2003 made him a legitimate MVP candidate in the non-Bonds category.
The Brewers couldn’t afford him, so they sent him to Arizona for seven dwarves, a lucky rabbits foot, a partridge, and a pear tree. He promptly proceeded to tear his labrum on April 29th and miss three weeks. He came back, aggrivated the injury two days later, and spent the rest of the season on the disabled list.
The positives; a year ago, he was considered one of the premier players in the game at his position. I guess make that “positive”.
The negatives; he’s coming off a serious injury that has a long history of wearing down a players abilities quickly and few positive comebacks. He turns 30 years old next month, already possesses old player skills, and has an abnormally large frame. Even a healthy Sexson would be expected to begin his decline shortly. Coming off a serious injury, there’s legitimate question as to whether he’ll ever regain previous form.
Very high risk, moderately high reward. He’s not a long term answer like Adrian Beltre would be. At best, you’re hoping for 3-5 years before looking for his replacement, and you’ll be paying for decline years at a peak rate. Sexson reportedly turned down a contract from Arizona that would have paid him $30 million over 3 years if he hit playing time incentives, instead asking that all three years of the contract be guaranteed.
Folks, if the Diamondbacks don’t want to guarantee three years to Sexson a year after giving up Curt Schilling and Lyle Overbay to get him and coming off a PR disaster that was that managerial hiring process, that should be a huge red light. Arizona wants Sexson back, and are likely to offer him arbitration, but the fact that they’re concerned enough with his health to take a year-by-year approach is a sign that they don’t know what they have, either.
If Richie Sexson wants three years of guaranteed money, look elsewhere. If he’s willing to take an incentive laden contract with team options for the second and third years, its worth investigating. Overall, he’s a bit too high of a risk for my tastes, as I don’t think this team can afford to sink any more of its payroll into players who won’t be contributing in 2005.