J.D. Drew opts out of his contract

Dave · November 9, 2006 at 7:56 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

J.D. Drew walked away from the Dodgers today, opting out of the remaining 3 years and $33 million he had left on his contract. He’s bound to get more money in the craziest free agent market since Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton cleaned house, but he also was unhappy in Los Angeles and wants to relocate.

So, the question for Mariner fans is should we be interested?

My answer is a conditional yes. If the Mariners are willing to think outside the box, there’s an easy way to make this work.

Trade Richie Sexson for whatever you can get. Give him away if you have to. He’s clearly inferior to Drew and a worse fit for this team, yet the team still owes him $14 million each of the next two seasons. Find a team (like San Francisco) who like Sexson and take whatever they’ll give you for him.

J.D. Drew steps in as the new left fielder (or right fielder, whichever he prefers) and Raul Ibanez moves to DH. Voila. Team better with no extra cash output.

Trade Richie Sexson for J.D. Drew – sort of.


133 Responses to “J.D. Drew opts out of his contract”

  1. Calderon on November 10th, 2006 12:54 pm

    More Injury history on Drew……

    2003: Began the season on the disabled list as he recovered from off-season surgery on his right patella tendon. Also disabled for much of August due to an oblique injury.

    2002: Had surgery, performed by Dr. George Paletta, on 10/17 to remove the diseased portion of his right patella tendon…Minor surgery, also by Dr. Paletta, on 1/31/03 to remove a cyst from the ball of his left foot.

    2001:Suffered a lower back sprain on 8/7 at MON and missed another 12 games.

    2000:Suffered a sprained left ankle on 7/7 vs. SF and was on the disabled list 7/8 to 7/27… missed 15 game

  2. JI on November 10th, 2006 12:55 pm


    Ryan Howard’s 90th%tile numbers were pretty fair.

    Since, in reality, Sexson is staying put. Is there any realistic way that the Mariners can sign Drew without subtracting Sexson?

  3. Calderon on November 10th, 2006 12:56 pm

    All I’m saying is that Drew’s injury history has been blown out of proportion

    I certainly don’t think it’s been blown out of proportion.

  4. Johan on November 10th, 2006 1:00 pm


  5. F-Rod on November 10th, 2006 1:03 pm

    For what it is worth JD Drew is getting ripped apart by the LA radio sports station right now. This guy is extremely hated by Dodger fans, and this was before he opted out. He is seen as extremely selfish, and soft. In all my years of listening to sports radio around this country, I have never heard someone so disliked who performs rather well. I’m not the biggest believer in having “character guys” but he does seem like a soft punk, who could will not play all out to win.

  6. waldo rojas on November 10th, 2006 1:06 pm

    They loved him in Philly too!

  7. dan on November 10th, 2006 1:08 pm

    So, basically, we can put snelling in lf and have a cheap, injury prone, .830+ ops corner OF, or we can get drew, who will be an expensive, injury prone .900 ops corner OF.

    I have no idea why we would dump sexson to pursue this option. Drew plays 120 games a year on average. Who do you play the other 40 games? Bloomquist? Or you get a 4th OF that hopefully doesn’t completely tank your offense. And you are paying a huge premium for the luxury of this 40 game dilemma.

    Nope, not a chance i would take drew. Dump sexson, sure – i don’t doubt that we could do better – but not to get drew.

  8. eponymous coward on November 10th, 2006 1:13 pm

    120 games of excellence and 40 games of a replacement level backup is better than 160 games of mediocrity.

    Let me say this again: Even assuming J.D. Drew misses 30-40 games a year for the life of the contract, he’s still two to three wins better, each year, than Richie Sexson.

    From BP:

    Sexson’s WARP1 from 2005-2006: 14.4 (8.2/6.2)
    Drew’s WARP1 from 2005-2006: 11.2 (3.9/7.3)

    JD Drew has never had back-to-back WARP seasons of 5+. Ever. So, basically, Sexson has to decline from where he is now to being a 3-4 WARP player overthe next two years of his deal, AND Drew has to do something he’s never done before for that to be true.

    FWIW, Raul Ibañez has contributed 9.8 WARP the last two years to the Mariners by this metric- almost as many as Drew has to the Dodgers, for less than half the price of Drew’s old contract.

  9. scraps on November 10th, 2006 1:15 pm

    I think it’s useful to remember that JD Drew has been assassinated by the media since day one, for his supposed arrogance in knowing the Phillies weren’t offering what he could get from someone else and having the stones to not meekly submit to the system. No one is supposed to fight for what they can get until they have established themselves (and even then you better not get too much). So far as I’m concerned, we know next to nothing about his character, toughness, etc, because everything we’ve heard has been filtered through this crap. We know his production, and his injury history, and that’s all we know. The team may have a better line on what Drew’s fellow professionals think of his character and toughness and all.

  10. Dave on November 10th, 2006 1:15 pm

    WARP is useless. You’re better than this, EC.

  11. eponymous coward on November 10th, 2006 1:29 pm

    OK, let’s run those numbers with WARP, then.

    Drew: 34.9 (2006) + 26.9 (2005)
    Sexson: 24.9 (2006) + 45.7 (2005)

    Advantage: Sexson.

    Seriously, what’s the metric I should be using that demonstrates Drew will be 2-3 wins better, assuming a replacement-level player fills in for him when he’s on the DL cashing checks?

  12. eponymous coward on November 10th, 2006 1:29 pm

    Er, VORP, then.

  13. Dave on November 10th, 2006 1:32 pm

    I have an idea – one that actually captures the fact that Richie Sexson’s one of the worst defensive first baseman in baseball?

    Here’s a quote from Mitchel Lichtman, the sabermetric advisor to the St. Louis Cardinals:

    Sexson was projected at -6 in UZR and was in fact -7. His offensive lwts was projected at +26 and was +18. So again, not too bad a projection (as much as I hate using the actual results of a couple of players to validate a projection).

    His baserunning is worth another -2 runs, which puts him at a total 06 projection of +18, which is only 7 runs above an average first baseman and 2.5 wins above replacement. That is worth 5-6 mil as a FA. How much is he paid? 11.5 mil I think in 06 and 14 mil in 07 and 08. Now that is a BAD contract! A horrible one! Atrocious!

    As I have stated for a long time, slugging first basemen are way overpaid. Most teams would be better off putting a replacement payer at first (and there is evidence that replacement level at first is one of the highest replacement levels of all the positions) and spending their money on other positions…

  14. Mat on November 10th, 2006 1:45 pm

    Most teams would be better off putting a replacement payer at first (and there is evidence that replacement level at first is one of the highest replacement levels of all the positions) and spending their money on other positions…

    The 2006 Tigers and A’s come to mind.

  15. Gomez on November 10th, 2006 1:47 pm

    The M’s could sign Drew without moving Sexson… except they’d essentially have to give up on seeking out top FA pitching. HI, ADAM EATON!

  16. Dave on November 10th, 2006 1:50 pm

    The M’s should want to move Sexson – his contract is an anchor.

    We all know that they’re not willing to do it without replacing his production in the order, though, so Drew at least gives them the option of going from ridiculously overpaid mediocrity to just sort of overpaid fringe star.

  17. Thingray on November 10th, 2006 2:28 pm

    You guys have me all confused. At first I was all for the idea of picking up Drew, then a number of posters made me have second thoughts. Now after Dave’s argument, I am back to thinking I like the idea!

    Again, this is why I’m glad I don’t have to actually make these decisions. All I have to decide is what kind of beer I want to drink when I go out tonight!

  18. Jed C on November 10th, 2006 2:50 pm

    Go for the Guiness, Old Speckled Hen, or Newcastle – on tap if available. Mmmmm … beer.

  19. Thingray on November 10th, 2006 3:26 pm

    Not a big Guinness fan, it’s way too filling to drink for an entire night out. I’m looking more at the Fat Tire, Blue Moon, Widmer Hef type of level..

    Or I could just say screw it and sip Coors Light all night, and chase it with Jagermeister!

  20. Gomez on November 10th, 2006 4:10 pm

    Gin. Bombay Sapphire and tonic. ::ducks::

  21. Evan on November 10th, 2006 4:18 pm

    Wells has said that if he leaves Toronto he’d like to get back to Texas. From the perspective of someone from Texas, Seattle essentially is Toronto: an unfunky honkytonkless northern town full of pasty passive-aggressive people who need prompting from the scoreboard to remember to cheer. Heck, at least Toronto is humid in the summer (though not quite like Texas) — Seattle can be downright frigid on a summer evening. And as much as the Leafs push the Jays off the top of the sports pages (as Wells recently noted in an interview), the Seahawks can do the same to the M’s (and their seasons overlap more).

    If I were a baseball player, those are exactly the reasons I’d want to play in Seattle. Maybe San Francisco as a second choice.

  22. Thingray on November 10th, 2006 4:25 pm

    Who wants to play in Texas in the middle of summer? The heat is just dreadful!

    I’ve played in Wenatchee in the summer, and you can barely drink fluids fast enough to stay hydrated.

  23. terry on November 10th, 2006 4:30 pm

    Alright first the caveat: this is rough justice because I’m doing this while in the jacuzzi and my pet penguin keeps wanting to nest on the keypad but here goes:

    Basically, I’m gee whizzing about this issue from an RC standpoint (i.e. estimating each players contribution to wins relative to one another based upon how many RC’s +/- the defensive runs they might be expected to generate)..

    First, in order for Drew to be 2 wins better than Sexson next season, he’s got to be roughly 16-20 runs better overall than Sexson.

    Using BP’s 50th percentile projected equivalents for ’07 and a really scratch pad estimator of RC (OBP*SLG*AB—–remember Tennessee is being frisky), Sexson should be penciled in for about 114 RC in ’07 and Drew should contribute roughly 84. Assuming average Joe (from Woolner’s neat article on VORP) makes up the 200 at bat difference between the two (Average Joe has OBP: .333, SLG: 420 for 28RC), then DREW +Joe together contribute roughly 112 unadjusted RCs. Average Joe is a charitable estimate as he is roughly 7 runs better than a truly replaceable Bill Backup (OBP:.295; SLG:.385). If you’re being charitable up to this point and are ignoring all of the other little quibbles, here’s one you could argue about since 7 runs isn’t a trivial total. But really the Ms already have a unique Bill Backup (aka Reed) who pretty much makes up the difference between he and average Joe with his defense (see why I might suggest that below).

    Speaking of defense (Tennessee thinks that’s a nice segue BTW), estimating defensive runs is really going to be rough justice but I’ll basically take Dewan’s plus/minus data and halve it using ’05 for Sexson and ’04 for Drew (’05 was a very small sample for Drew) and assuming a 0 for Drew’s replacement. That means Sexson’s defense cost 8 runs and Drew’s defense saved 10 runs. Basically Reed as Billy backup would’ve saved roughly 14 runs (so since this is ROUGH, despite Reeds 14 defensive runs, I’ll call the difference of 7 un adjusted RC above between Joe and Bill a WASH…that made Tennessee chuckle-he loves puns).

    So the estimated adjusted RC’s look like this:
    Sexson ’07: 114-8=106
    Drew/Average Joe ’07: 112+10=122

    The difference (122-106) equals roughly 2 wins…. Drew seems like a no-brainer using penguin metrics,,,,,,

  24. MedicineHat on November 10th, 2006 4:50 pm

    Ramirez has opted out, too

    “Third baseman Aramis Ramirez took advantage of an out clause in his contract to walk away from the two years and $22.5 million still owed him by the Chicago Cubs.

    He’ll be looking for a considerably longer, more generous commitment in his next deal.

    Agent Paul Kinzer told ESPN.com it will take a six-year deal for a team to sign Ramirez once the Cubs’ negotiating window expires this weekend and the third baseman hits the open market.”

  25. terry on November 10th, 2006 4:55 pm

    Tennessee also want’s me to point out that basically the Ms could sign Drew for $18M in ’07 and roughly break even concerning Sexson and Drew’s salaries relative to wins.

    I’m a little dubious but he’s wearing a tuxedo so he must know what he’s talking about when it comes to money………..

  26. stevie_j13 on November 10th, 2006 7:48 pm

    Ugh- shaky character guy who hits poorly against left-handed pitching and struggles to stay healthy (Dodgers gave him regular days off last year because they were worried about him breaking down, ensuring he never got in a groove). Drew has hit 30 home runs once in his career and turns 31 in ten days. Also, he has never played 110 games in back-to-back seasons, and played in 146 last year. How much would he cost? 4/$50 million? Trading Sexson, sure. But Drew? Spare me.

  27. Wishhiker on November 10th, 2006 8:09 pm

    #91 Eponymous: thank you. Several posters had mentioned one or 2 of 3 main reasons I don’t see the M’s interested. Doyle, Ichiro and Jones.

    Hasn’t anyone realized that we already have someone who brings more from the left side that would see less playing time with Drews addition? Why replace Snelling with Drew?

    The majority of us here beleive that Ichiro should be signed through 2010+. That leaves 2 OF spots that the same majority would like to see filled almost every day through 2015+ with Snelling and Jones. Before Drews remaining 3/33 would have been up we’d like to see the starting corner OF’s be ones that are presently on the team. Why not let Drew sign with someone who wants to get screwed by some loophole. There are better answers within the organization than Sexson or Drew. They will all cost less money over the next 5 years. Notice I didn’t mention Reed? Before that 5 year contract is up we could see him holding back a fine triumverate of OFers that were in Everett last year. If Sexson is traded the help we get in return needs to be at SP and 1B. That includes where the resulting payroll space ends up being spent. There is no other position need that comes close.

    The M’s don’t need another OFer now, except to keep Ibanez off the field. I may be one of the rare Seattle fans who’d not rather have anyone else up when the bases are loaded than Richie Sexson. Not because of what he does at other times, but because of what he does with the bases loaded. I think a team needs a player that’s going to be as viscous with the sacks full and when someones walked in front of him. That’s why I’m afraid to see him go, but no he’s not worth $14 million a year. I still truly beleive that it was necessary to sign him ASAP to get someone like Beltre to beleive the M’s were serious and unfortunately that meant overpaying. If they’re able to trade Sexson before his most expensive years, good for them. I don’t think they’ll try very hard unless someones willing to give young pitching up, because the team has no real needs otherwise. Improving the offense is a desire, not a need, and becomes harder when removing the bat with the most power. I can’t think of how many years the biggest complaint was not having someone who hit 30+ homers, or needing one more big bat. Aren’t we there right now? If Drew can play 1B better than Sexson you’ve got my vote…I like the OF situation the way it is with Ichiro and Snelling locked in (hopefully) and Ibanez holding Jones’ spot for now. No need to change it, unless you think Ibanez and Snelling can both DH at once. We know the team will keep Ibanez until he becomes worthless or the FO philosophy changes. The 4 spots Drew can get into the lineup are full for the foreseeable future. Sexson’s not in one of those spots.

  28. DMZ on November 10th, 2006 8:53 pm

    You don’t know what the majority of “us here” believe. Certainly not what the hive mind’s opinion of contract extensions and roster decisions for the next nine years is.

    I think a team needs a player that’s going to be as viscous with the sacks full and when someones walked in front of him.

    Yeah, the M’s have suffered a lot by not having a thick, gooey, gummy hitter when the bases are loaded.

  29. eponymous coward on November 11th, 2006 12:39 am

    OK, Dave, that’s more like it. I’m not trolling or flaming when I ask questions like this- I’m genuinely curious as to the calculations and I’m more than happy to admit ignorance and learn something I didn’t know yesterday. IMO, saying “please show your work” is perfectly fair in sabremetrics and calculus. Between you and Terry, I can say “OK, fine, Sexson

  30. eponymous coward on November 11th, 2006 12:43 am

    grrr… I keep forgetting “greater/less than” doesn’t get escaped here.

    Anyway, OK, Sexson “less than” Drew. By a lot.

    Is that going to be the case if we’re paying JD Drew $15 million at age 34/35? That’s my big worry-that players with his injury history don’t age well, and his contract will be a Sexson-esque boat anchor come 2010, without the superficially decent season Sexson had in 2006.

  31. Colorado M's Fan on November 11th, 2006 1:37 am

    For some reason, all this talk about selling Sexson for peanuts gives me a strange, illogical certainty that he’ll have a monster 2007.

    Especially if he’s on another team. Of course.

  32. terry on November 11th, 2006 5:08 am

    This notion that a player is somehow a rat bastard for taking advantage of a *contract loophole* is kind of a pet peeve of mine….

    Moyer was not a rat bastard for vetoing a trade in ’05.
    Glavine isn’t a rat bastard for declining his $7.5M option this year.
    Aurilia isn’t a rat bastard for declining his $2M mutual option this year.
    Drew isn’t a rat bastard for opting out of his last three years.

    You know who are rat bastards? The Redsox for trading Arroyo about 50 days after they shook his hand, looked him in the eye and promised they wouldn’t trade him if he signed his three year extension without a no-trade clause last year.

    I wonder if he’ll demand one of those *loopholes* in his next contract?

  33. John D. on November 12th, 2006 7:30 pm

    Re: # 91 – “…there are a number of comps on DREW’s comp list that went pfft in their thirties: Kevin Mitchell, Kirk Gibson, Charlie Keller, Paul Higginson…”
    Charlie Keller? Didn’t his back give out on him?

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