M’s Draft Reliever, Pujols and Wilson Go To Anaheim
A big morning here in Dallas, and not because anyone really cares about the Rule 5 draft anymore. The Mariners selected LHP Lucas Leutge from the Brewers (shockingly!) with the third pick in the Rule 5, but that’s not what anyone really wants to talk about.
No, everyone’s buzzing about the Angels, who signed both Albert Pujols (10 years, $250ish million) and C.J. Wilson (5 years, $75ish million) to significant contracts this morning. This clearly pushes the Angels up into the tier with the Rangers at the top of the AL West, and means the Mariners can pretty much give up hope on making some miracle run in 2012 that might let them steal the division. You can concoct scenarios where one team struggles and leaves the door open, but the Angels and Rangers are both so much better now that it’s hard to see both teams falling apart enough to let the M’s sneak in with a division title. Contending next year was already a long shot, but these moves basically close that door now.
For the future, I don’t like this as much from the Angels perspective. They’ve made a huge bet on a guy with significant risk factors, and there’s a pretty decent chance that having Pujols on the books is going to force them to let other talented players walk, perhaps leaving them in a worse long term position than if they had simply used this money to retain the good players they already had in-house.
I know people will look at this and say that the Mariners now need to sign Prince Fielder to keep up with the Joneses, but I’d argue that this probably makes that kind of move even less necessary now. The Angels decision to go for it in the next few years means that the added value from having a guy like Prince Fielder on the roster is lessened, as adding him is less likely to result in a near term playoff run and revenue boost. Instead, the team should be focused on maximizing their chances of contention in 2013, and they can do better by setting up the roster with quality players at multiple positions than by betting the house on one player who could easily be untradeable in a year.
This move isn’t any kind of death knell for the Mariners, nor is it a sign that they need to buck up and spend like crazy just because their division rivals have decided to do so. The Mariners simply need to continue to make smart decisions, add talent to the organization, and exercise some rational decision making rather than panicking and making an emotional response.