Free agent sweepstakes begins

DMZ · November 14, 2004 at 4:54 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Teams are making their runs at Beltran and Beltre as we speak. The M’s have an offer on Beltre in, I don’t know any details yet so I can’t tell you if it’s competitive or not.

First signing appears to be Omar Vizquez, who — I can’t stop giggling as I type this — signed a 3-year, $12.25m deal with the Giants. No, really, the Giants signed a 37-year old shortstop through his…. what are they thinking? This is the front-runner for the Raul Ibanez Signing Award for this off-season.

Also, over at the Seattle Times, Steve Kelley writes that the team should spend money this off-season, in a column that must have taken him seven, eight minutes to write. I weep for the poor squids that gave their lives so that Kelley could have the ink to run this stuff.


70 Responses to “Free agent sweepstakes begins”

  1. Dan on November 15th, 2004 3:02 pm

    ESPN also thinks the mariners will sign sexson and valentin. Let’s hope ESPN is wrong.

  2. eponymous coward on November 15th, 2004 4:44 pm

    Right, it’s REALLY likely we’ll sign 2 FA 1B’s- the two premiere ones on the market.

    Pass the bong, ESPN, quit bogarting.

  3. Elliott on November 15th, 2004 5:05 pm

    I know about the Sexson rumors, but I want to know if Dave or DMZ knows what Bavasi might do next if his first move was an expensive 1B.

  4. ChrisK on November 15th, 2004 5:35 pm

    Koskie would be such a classic M’s acquisition, my head hurts just thinking about it. Sorta good, potential but inconsistent (thus relatively inexpensive), nice guy, sell him to the fans as a great player and hope he has a career year. And if he stinks, at least he won’t complain about it because he’s such a good ‘clubhouse guy’.

  5. chris w on November 15th, 2004 6:55 pm

    Acquiring a 1B first is absolutely the wrong move. It’s the easiest positition to fill (in fact, they already have 2 guys to fill it: Bucky and Ibanez). It would be stupid to sign Delgado or Sexson before dealing with 3B. Thing is, it would be just like the Ms. They bumble from one move to the next without any particular plan other than to sign the guy they’re negotiating with.

  6. John on November 15th, 2004 7:47 pm

    Re: # 55 – Three. You forgot WILLIE BLOOMQUIST.
    The notion of interchangeable parts has to go. When LP said such things as “We need another bat,” he meant “We need another good bat.”
    But management seems to have taken that to mean ‘any bat will do.’
    BTW, we don’t already have two guys that can play first. If either IBANEZ or JACOBSEN play first, we’re in deep trouble.

  7. eli g on November 15th, 2004 7:49 pm

    I agree with you completely chris (#55)… I’ve always wondered at how other teams seem to be able to put together a string of four or five signings/trades in a period of a few weeks while the M’s always seem to space theirs out a bit. It just seems like multitasking isn’t exactly (gross understatement) our front office’s strong point. It’s EXTREMELY frustrating to see other teams wheel and deal while the M’s plod along picking up the scraps or jumping for that piece of meat that nobody else is all that interested in… I mean seriously, how vastly improved could this team be if they approached all of their potentially targeted free agents (all they way down to long relievers and bench guys) with offers on day one? I realize that if all of them were to accept it would cause a problem, but it’s not like the M’s HAVE to sign a guy once they make an offer and he accepts, is it?

  8. Dave on November 15th, 2004 8:13 pm

    Again, the M’s front office of 2000-2003 is not the M’s front office of 2004. There are positives and negatives to that statement, but can we stop assuming that Pat Gillick is still running the team?

    Elliot, I’ll be stunned if the M’s sign a first baseman before Beltre gives them an answer. He’s Plan A, and they’re not going to Plan B without knowing whether Plan A has a chance or not.

  9. eli g on November 15th, 2004 8:24 pm

    ok, Dave,

    That’s EXACTLY what I’m talking about! Why must the M’s wait to see if free agent #1 pans out before going after #2? When we approach it that way we get stuck with the Quinton’s and Aurillia’s of the free agent class (btw – yes, i know that Q wasn’t a FA)… It’s been proven – and even stated in articles written this year – that Boras clients DO NOT sign early. So, what is the logic in waiting for Beltre to decide who he is going to play for when that decision isn’t likely to come until well into December or even January? I wouldn’t mind having Delgado at first or Glaus at third as back-up plans… and if Beltre does indeed want to sign, then, well, WHOOPEE! We might actually have a hot at a decent team next year and in the years beyond!

  10. Dave on November 15th, 2004 8:45 pm

    Because the team doesn’t have unlimited resources. If Beltre eats up $9 million of your 2005 payroll, and you’ve already committed $8 million to Delgado, you’ve only got about $7 million left to fill out the roster, and this team still needs a starting pitcher in a bad way.

    Signing Sexson or Delgado now reduces your options. No reason to set the market. The M’s are playing it smart. Patience is a virtue.

  11. Digger on November 15th, 2004 8:49 pm

    1) To be “competitive,” the Ms need to get TWO new hitters with ISOs better than .200
    2) Existing acceptable starters (no trades) are:
    Ibanez—OF or 1B
    Leaving the need for a 3B FOR SURE and either 1B or CF (Ibanez assigned accordingly). So (without a trade) they can go ahead and sign a 3B, and either a 1B or a CF. But with only one CF who qualifies, and the looming possibility of a bidding war with Steinbrenner, …(tough call).

    A trade can change the whole picture, though, so that probably has to come first. If, e.g., they traded Boone for A Jones, they need a 2B and not a CF or 1B. If they trade Boone for C Jones, then they need a 2B and not a 3B.

    Throw the need to understand recovery from injuries and/or the (7 letter) s-word into the process, and the GM has a tough job.

  12. eli g on November 15th, 2004 8:50 pm

    ok, dave,

    I can see that, but at what point does a virtue become a hinderance? I know that you don’t believe that one guy can make a team, so why hold out so long for one guy at the risk of the rest of the team…. You’ve gotta agree with me that there won’t be much left by the time Beltre signs… and then where does that leave us?…

  13. Dave on November 15th, 2004 9:01 pm

    No, I don’t have to agree with that. I think Beltre will be one of the first “big names” to sign, probably in early December. I think Beltre signs before Sexson or Delgado.

    I don’t view this offseason as a chance for the M’s to return to contention. I view it as a chance to add talent for the long haul, and if we lose out on overpaying for an injury prone first baseman, I will lose no sleep.

  14. Kearly on November 15th, 2004 9:34 pm

    Dave – I think I’d lose sleep if we lost out on Delgado, because I do not consider him to be injury prone. Sexson and Glaus, however, are worth staying far away from; at least for the moment.

    I’m kind of surprised we made an offer so quickly on Beltre, for a while I thought we were going to lay low and try to steal Beltre away from out of nowhere in December with a terrific offer.

    As I see it, the Mariners probably have two scenario’s, the “get Beltre” scenario and the “get Delgado” scenario. If we get Beltre, we’ll probably look for a “cheap” first baseman (likely Ibanez, maybe Sexson). Likewise, with Delgado, we’d be looking at a reasonable SS or 3B (likely Koskie, maybe Rentaria, *maybe* Glaus).

    I happen to agree with you that the first option is better, at least in the long term. However the second option could arguably be better in the short term and wouldn’t involve a 6 or 7 year potential albatross type contract. While I think, if its possible, we should try to sign Beltre before looking anywhere else in the infield, its not completely insane to send Delgado an offer just to make sure he doesn’t go anywhere else.

  15. Kearly on November 15th, 2004 9:45 pm

    As far as the comment someone made on “Visquel setting the free agent market,” theres room for optimism. After all, Ibanez signed a similar contract last offseason and it did not result in inflated salaries for the truly elite free agents. If I remember right, Vlad actually went quite a bit lower than most people thought he would.

    In theory, the only way Visquel would impact Beltre in a way as was suggested, would be if the impact went sequentially up the free agent ladder. For example, next week Corey Koskie signs a slightly inflated contract because of he’s a little more valuable than Visquel. Shortly there after Glaus signs an inflated contract because he’s a little more valuable than Koskie, then Rentaria signs an inflated contract because he’s more valued than Glaus, and ultimately, Beltre signs and inflated contract because he’s more valued than Rentaria.

    However, if Rentaria signs tommorrow for a reasonable figure, say 4 years 28 million, then it throws a cap on the potential damage caused by the visquel signing. Suddenly, players like Glaus are looking at less than 28 million, Koskie less than that (probably much less), etc. With the closest echelon to Beltre and Delgado making less than 30 million, it preserves the notion that Delgado will probably go in the 30 millions range and Beltre in the 60 or 70 millions range.

  16. Elliott on November 15th, 2004 9:50 pm

    Thanks for the good news, Dave.

  17. adam on November 16th, 2004 12:25 am

    I think we should go hard after Rentaria and Beltre, imagine that defense.

  18. clarence credence on November 16th, 2004 12:35 am

    In all seriousness, what’s with Steve Kelly’s Vanilla Ice ‘do?

  19. Bela Txadux on November 16th, 2004 2:44 am

    Vizquel . . .

    I _can’t_ figure Brian Sabean out. There is a method somewhere in this man, but I just haven’t been able to do a + b + c on the guy. Now, he’s working with significant budget constraints, yes. And he is clearly a true believer in the stars-and-scrubs approach; I’m not, but Sabean is the best example of that in baseball at the moment in my view. But to make this work, you’ve got to pick a few genuine stars, and back them with _low-paid_ scrubs.

    Now, Sabean did acquire Jeff Kent, and got a bit bang. He did trade for Schmit at ten cents on the dollar, and had the sense to sign him. He did sign Robb Nen, when the guy was a force. He did pick up Rey Durham for very little, and has gotten value from the guy. Sabean did acquire Ponson for his run in ’03 when Sidney had some real value, and then had the sense NOT to sign him. Sabean has held onto Kirk Reuter, on of the underrated pitchers in the game, and gotten consistently decent results. Given his budgetary issues, the initial signings of Jose Cruz and Deivi Cruz both make a certain amount of sense, and if they didn’t lift the team they at least made a minimum contribution.

    —On the other hand, there was the signing of Edgardo Alonzo to a multi-year which I thought was one of the stone-craziest wastes of money I’d seen in years; a much worse signing than anything the Mariners FO has pulled off in since Gillick arrived. Sabean _resigned_ Cruz for far more than he is possibly worth. Sabean traded to _acquire_ Pieznarsky, one of the most dislike players in the game, and the acquisiton bombed, the guy had zero value. And to do it, Brian traded Joe Nathan, gambling that Nen was coming back despite repeated setbacks with his arm. Instead, Nen’s career is over, and the Giants had neither player. Then this signing of Vizquel, which is beyond laughable. The guy’s knee couldn’t pass a physical last year. He had pathetic range for a SS for ’04. He’s 37. There is NO WAY he finishes a three-year, in my view, and I wouldn’t be surprised in anyway whatsoever if he never has an effective year again. This isn’t even a gamble; like with Alonzo, it’s purest wish-fulfillment.

    I think Sabean has gotten bored with his present context of possibilities in SF to the point where his attention has simply checked out. It happens, even to really talented managers and GMs. But having said that Sabean’s decision-making these last two years has been extremely poor. Oh, Brian is fooling himself because the Giants ‘were in it until the last series,’ which is farcial since NO team in the NL west in any way deserved to be in postseason, and none could take control of the division in any way. I think that the ’05 Giants are going to do exactly what the ’04 Mariners did, and you can quote me. Giants fans should go into the season expectin 100 losses, because anything better than that with the team they have at this point is going to be a victory of a kind.

  20. Paul Weaver on November 16th, 2004 2:49 am

    I’ve stopped reading Steve Kelley completely. I remember when I moved to Seattle reading his columns and rolling my eyes. Those attempts at humorous analogies sports columnists so love… utter failure. I still can’t believe this guy gets paid. Or does he?……..

    Anyhoo. Vizquel will be an aberration. If the Giants had waited they probably could have gotten him for less, but, meh, they probably wanted him from the get go. No one else was going to top their offer. I don’t see babyO doin’ so hot. He had one of those typical final flame out years last year. His 05 stats will be half as hot, 06 horrendous, 07 possibly released. Not that I don’t want him to have 3 more above average years. He is one of those hof-but-not SS’s that may go the way of Barry Larkin – forgotten in the wake of A-Rods, Jeters, Nomahs, and Tejadas – guys who have at best .75 times the glove, but at worst 1.25 times the bat.

    But seriously, if Vizquel is setting the market, then lots of players are going to cost more than anyone is willing to pay. That’s when there ends up being a few gems at the end of the off-season. Good guys for cheap!

    I wish I had time to study all the game theory that goes into contract negotiations and team needs. It’s mostly a transparent game, but a crafty GM could make it fun. And Bavasi….uhh, please suprise me Bavasi!