No Matsuzaka, but you may get another CO
Last week when Mariners baseball executives and scouts met in Arizona to map their strategy for improving the team, general manager Bill Bavasi asked for recommendations on potential free agents the M’s should pursue.
Nobody mentioned Matsuzaka’s name.
Hmm. Really? Technically he’s not a free agent. Maybe it just wasn’t in that discussion.
The bigger issue is whether Matsuzaka is worth the financial stretch it will take to get him. It may take a winning bid of $20 million or more just to gain the right to negotiate a contract with him and, with Scott Boras as his agent, it’s a good bet that he’ll get a deal worth millions over multiple years.
Bottom line is that Matsuzaka will get No. 1 starter money with no guarantee that he’ll become that kind of pitcher in the majors.
$20m, eh? Hmm. I love “millions over multiple years”. Ya think? Like $2m over 3 years? Plus, we just gave #1 starter money to Jarrod Washburn, and he sucks. At least Matsuzaka doesn’t suck. And really, if you get him for a cheap contract and a $20m fee, that’s not #1 money.
I would chalk this all up to the predicted mind-games. But here’s the jarring part:
And, like last year, spending what it will take to land Matsuzaka could severely hamper any other moves the Mariners need to make this offseason. Right now, the Mariners’ baseball people don’t seem interested in busting the 2007 payroll for one player, especially considering they need three more pitchers and, if there’s anything left, a corner outfielder.
Okay, first, Matsuzaka’s impact won’t be on payroll, it’ll be in the posting fee. But this is an interesting view, and continues the team’s long retreat from the “posting fees and foreign acquisitions are a separate account” position they espoused for a couple of years.
But here’s the really grating part — A corner outfielder. Really.
A corner outfielder.
This team needs another corner outfielder like they need to clone Mike Hargrove so he can occupy all the coaching positions at once. We keep pounding on this, but the team’s got a roster crunch already:
Ibanez LF (below average)/DH/1b (yech)
Broussard DH/1b (yech)
Sexson 1B (ergh)
Snelling LF/RF/DH, who for everyone’s sake he should probably play at least one game out of 3 or 4 at DH next year, just for safety
and that doesn’t include Reed, obviously. They shouldn’t be looking for free agent corner outfielders with any kind of substantial payroll impact right now, they should be moving Sexson, Broussard, or both of them, and then… you know all this, so I’ll skip on.
On Matsuzaka, though – if I were the Mariners, and I’m not, I would absolutely play a game that would appear identical to what we’re seeing from the team:
– personally talk to Lincoln/etc and get permission to pursue him
– with two, three people you know are absolutely leak-proof, figure out a posting number to bid
– internally, tell everyone else you’re not interested. Have them work on the backup plan in the guise of it being the real plan
– leak that you’re not interested, have other priorities, are concerned about his health, don’t think there’s any additional marketing benefit from having another Japanese player, Ichiro doesn’t like him, whatever
– submit the bid
Hopefully you’ve lowered the posting price, because the Yankees drop way down thinking you’re out of it. Then if you win, surprise! Everyone’s happy, and you’ve done a masterful fake-out. If you lose, no big deal, you’ve been prepping the public for it for ages, and you’ve got this great backup plan.
There’s really no way the M’s don’t bid, and make – if not a $20m-30+m bid – a serious offer.