Tag: Scott Boras

Los Angeles Dodgers: Signing Scherzer Would Be Crazy Ending to Wild Offseason

Ever since Guggenheim Baseball Management purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012, the Dodgers have been the most polarizing team in MLB.  They immediately went out and acquired superstars like Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, infusing a drastic win-now philosophy into the organization. 

The Dodgers were second in the league in team salary in 2013, and their payroll ballooned to over $235 million in 2014, which led the league by over $30 million, according to Deadspin.

However, that star-studded roster could not bring a World Series championship to Hollywood in either year.  They managed to only win one playoff series, losing to the Cardinals in the NLCS in 2013 and then again to the Redbirds last year in the first round.

Only one week after the Dodgers lost in Game 4 of the NLDS to St. Louis, the club’s front office underwent some changes.  They lured Andrew Friedman away from the Rays, making him the new president of baseball operations and reassigning former general manager Ned Colletti to a different position within the organization.

Friedman was expected to get the payroll under control, especially since he had to be frugal in his tenure in Tampa Bay, but he took it to another level, slashing payroll in his first winter meetings in blue.  He wasted no time trading Matt Kemp and choosing not to re-sign Hanley Ramirez.

But even with the shift in philosophy, the ownership wants to win now, and it doesn’t really care how much money it has to spend, which is why there is a possibility that the Dodgers could pursue the biggest fish left on the free-agent market, Max Scherzer.

Scherzer is represented by Scott Boras, and his asking price is reportedly somewhere north of $200 million.  There is only one pitcher in MLB history who has signed a contract of at least $200 million, and it’s Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw.

Despite Scherzer’s phenomenal success the past two years, his market has been unimpressive.  The Scherzer negotiations are completely different than Jon Lester’s. Leading up to Lester’s signing, there was seemingly endless rumor and speculation, with several teams clamoring for position. 

With Scherzer, though, there haven’t been any teams that have announced they are “all in” on signing the 2013 Cy Young winner. 

That perceived lack of interest will probably not lower Scherzer’s price tag due to Boras’ historic brilliance of getting his clients top dollar, but it does leave the window open for the Dodgers to shock the baseball world.

If they do sign Scherzer, they would undoubtedly have the best starting rotation in the MLB.  A staff consisting of Kershaw, Scherzer, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu would be nearly unhittable, especially in a best-of-five or best-of-seven playoff series.

The Dodgers already unloaded Kemp and Ramirez, giving them a bit of flexibility from a financial standpoint, and it’s not like the L.A executives are going to pass up a chance to drastically improve their team just because of money. 

They have shown that they are not afraid of massive contracts, and Scherzer could be the next one they sign.

If that is the case, the Dodgers immediately become my pick to win the World Series.  They would have the best starting rotation in the game, and they still have plenty of firepower, even without Kemp and Ramirez, in an offense that features Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and the newly acquired Howie Kendrick.

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Scott Boras and Max Scherzer Are Not Overplaying Their Hand…Yet

This is not a fresh conversation. It is had almost yearly around this time on the calendar.

It is the tale of super agent Scott Boras and some client and their reading of the free-agent market. Is the duo overestimating the player’s worth? Will the market eventually cave and pay the asking price? How late in the offseason might we find out?

This winter is just another edition of the debate, with Boras toting around ace Max Scherzer as his prized client, a $200 million price tag dangling from his ear. As of now, as we have come to expect with the high-priced Boras clients, there are no potential buyers and no firming up of the options.

So are Boras and Scherzer overplaying their hand? They certainly do not believe so, as Boras eluded to CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman last month:

Premium free agents are rarely talked about at the GM [general manager] meetings. This is an owners’ decision. Every GM wants him. There’s always a place for him on every team. The issue is not whether the player is wanted. The issue is whether the owner will make the commitment to try to win the World Series.

That commitment is healthy. Scherzer already turned down a six-year, $144 million contract extension offer from the Detroit Tigers earlier this year, and several reports have Scherzer seeking well beyond that monetary figure. That was confirmed last week at the MLB winter meetings.

That $200 million asking price is not surprising considering the agent, but only one other pitcher in the sport has achieved that kind of money—Clayton Kershaw. For as good as Scherzer is, he is not in the statistical class of Kershaw, and there is about a four-year age difference between the two, with the Los Angeles Dodgers ace winning that bout, also.

Scherzer is considered to be better than Jon Lester, who agreed to a six-year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs at the winter meetings. But is he really $50 million better? Aside from Boras, it is difficult to find anyone who thinks Scherzer is worth that much more, so it seems Lester’s deal could hurt Scherzer‘s value.

Then again, all it takes is that “One Dumb Owner” to accept the terms. Longtime New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden set forth that phrase years ago in reference to Boras always finding his mark, as he has done with guys like Mark Teixeira and Prince Fielder.

In Fielder’s case after the 2011 season, it appeared Boras overvalued his client. But when Victor Martinez blew up his knee training that winter, Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch pounced on Fielder and gave him $214 million over nine years. If not for that injury to one of the game’s premier hitters, Fielder’s situation might have played out much differently.

Boras escaped embarrassment there, but we have seen his clients in the past overplay their hands and end up late in the offseason without a deal. That has forced some to settle for less than what Boras promised he could get or to be forced into one-year “pillow deals.”

Michael Bourn is the most recent example. He wanted seven years and around $80 million—or at least Boras did—when he hit free agency after the 2012 season, but Boras could only land him $48 million over four years with the Cleveland Indians. That deal wasn’t reached until days before players reported to spring training.

No one will be surprised if Scherzer‘s journey reaches February, especially because teams that can afford Scherzer are likely to exhaust every other avenue before even engaging Boras about his 30-year-old client.

The free-agent market still features James Shields, a pitcher who could command half the years and maybe less than half of the salary Scherzer is seeking. Shields is not an ace, but he is a legitimate top-of-the-rotation arm that becomes far more attractive when his demands are set next to Scherzer‘s. Once Shields does sign, Scherzer‘s suitors will become a bit clearer.

The trade market offers plenty of options, but despite being cheaper in terms of money, they will cost plenty in personnel. Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Johnny Cueto are all front-line pitchers available in trades, but their teams will be asking for plenty in return. Then again, signing Scherzer will cost a draft pick because he turned down Detroit’s qualifying offer.

Logical theories have Scherzer‘s options limited to three teams for now: the Tigers, Washington Nationals and New York Yankees. The Tigers because of Boras‘ relationship with Ilitch despite GM Dave Dombrowski saying they aren’t pursuing Scherzer, the Nationals because they could trade Zimmermann for a sweet haul before adding Scherzer‘s money and the Yankees because it’s hard to believe them when GM Brian Cashman says Scherzer is “on a higher [financial] level than we’d like to play in right now.”

All three of those teams are in win-now modes, with those windows potentially closing as their current rosters stand. So believing Madden’s one owner comes from one of those clubs is not an absurd theory.

It is also not absurd to think that, considering the markets for pitching, Boras is overvaluing Scherzer. We have seen him do it before, and we have seen him do it with an A-1 client (Fielder) only to be bailed out by an unexpected circumstance.

It is hard to bet against Boras because we have seen him nab ridiculous amounts of money for players that 29 other owners did not see worth the bounty. And if a team like the Nationals or even the Dodgers make a blockbuster trade involving one of their pitchers, they suddenly become Boras‘ obvious target.

For now, it is too early to say Boras and Scherzer are overplaying their hand. This is still typical in Boras‘ world of negotiating. However, if in a month from now we are still wondering where Scherzer will pitch, the conversation can be rehashed with a different outcome.


Anthony Witrado covers Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. He spent the previous three seasons as the national baseball columnist at Sporting News and four years before that as the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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Pittsburgh Pirates: Should the Team Trade Pedro Alvarez?

Pedro Alvarez has always been a polarizing player for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The man affectionately known as El Toro has undisputed power in his bat as evidenced by the National League-leading 36 home runs he hit last year. However, that power comes at a cost in the form of dismally-low batting averages, loads of strikeouts and poor fielding at third base.

The questions surrounding Alvarez have become more prominent since the emergence of super-utility player Josh Harrison and his stellar play since becoming a mainstay in the lineup. Some fans in Pittsburgh think Harrison can and should shoulder the full load at third base, relegating Alvarez to a platoon-like situation off the bench. Those fans are a bit premature in their zeal to see Alvarez ride the bench, but the question still remains as to what his future with the team holds.

First and foremost, Alvarez is represented by super agent Scott Boras, a man whose clients usually opt for free agency and big-money deals when their time is up. The team is paying Alvarez $4.25 million this season, a number that is likely to inflate to more than $10 million during arbitration in the offseason, according to Rum Bunter’s Adam Perry.

So perhaps the bigger question isn’t to bench or to play Alvarez, but rather to trade him and get something in return before he leaves for free agency anyway. The team controls Alvarez until after the 2016 season, but that doesn’t mean the Pirates shouldn’t start exploring ways to move him now, especially because he’s in line for a big pay raise after the season.

Do the Pirates want to pay upwards of $10 million a year for a third baseman who currently leads Major League Baseball with 17 errors? That’s a lot of money for a player hitting .232 at the plate, second-worst among all third basemen in the league. Of course, he’s always liable to go on a tear and hit seven home runs in a week.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizik makes a relevant point in a blog post from several weeks ago, a point that illustrates the conundrum that is Pedro Alvarez.

Alvarez will be a free agent after the 2016 season. Since he is represented by agent Scott Boras, whose clients usually opt for free agency, the belief is the Pirates will trade him before that day comes. If Alvarez’s career takes off, there’s no way the Pirates can afford him. If it does not, there’s no way they’ll want him at the salary he’ll still command.

Smizik goes on to say that Alvarez could be a prime target for American League teams looking for a designated hitter, or for a team looking to convert him to first base. His ability to hit 30 or more home runs a year cannot be denied, especially on a Pirates team lacking in power. But the Pirates are not the New York Yankees and cannot afford to pay a player tens of millions just for a power bat.

The debate in Pittsburgh isn’t centered around trading Alvarez, although maybe it should be. Instead, manager Clint Hurdle is faced with hard decisions now that second baseman Neil Walker is back from the disabled list, forcing Hurdle to get creative in finding a lineup spot for the hot-hitting Harrison.

For one, Perry thinks it’s time for Alvarez to ride the bench. If that happens, could a trade be far behind?

The immediate question is: Who gives the Pirates a better chance to win, if you’re writing the lineup card tomorrow? I’d go with Harrison, and give him a chance to prove he’s not an everyday player, rather than continuing with Alvarez, who has yet to prove this year that he’s an everyday player.

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Why 12-Year Bryce Harper Contract Would Be Franchise Suicide for the Nationals

Scott Boras is at it again, and this time it concerns Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.

According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Boras has laid out a case for a 12-year contract extension for Harper:

While locking up a franchise player for the foreseeable future is key, I think it’s still too early to do that for Harper. After all, what has he done other than win NL Rookie of the Year?

A 12-year contract would be suicide for the Nationals for many reasons.


Comparisons to Buster Posey

There’s no doubt that Harper is a great talent, but he still has a long way to go if he wants to reach the big bucks. Of course, Boras could be looking at Buster Posey’s nine-year, $164-million deal as a reference, but Harper is no Posey.

For starters, Posey has led the San Francisco Giants to two World Series titles, along with winning an MVP award (in addition to his NL Rookie of the Year). He batted .317 with 46 home runs and 191 RBI through his first three seasons, which includes a shortened 2010 after a collision at home plate ended his year.

When on the field, Posey simply helps will the Giants to wins.

Harper, on the other hand, is batting .272 with 40 home runs and 105 RBI in his career. Those are not exactly the numbers you want to see when you’re about to give a kid a 12-year deal.

Like any big leaguer, Harper has dealt with injuries and slumps this year. But just like with everyone else, it’s a part of the game. As an executive, do you give a player a huge contract when he’s coming off a year with filled injuries and struggles at the plate?


Not Even Arbitration Eligible

When I see that Harper isn’t even arbitration eligible yet, that makes me more hesitant to give him a long-term deal. In fact, he won’t be arbitration eligible until 2016.

He’s already under a cheap contract that pays him just over $2 million the next two years, so why not stick with that?

If I’m not going to have to pay a guy a lot of money (even in arbitration), why would I want to pay him more money in a long-term contract? Instead, I could wait and pay him $7-8 million in arbitration and then sign him to a long-term deal prior to his last arbitration year. It would save the Nationals money and would allow them to see what they really have on their hands before committing long term.

With Harper being one of the franchise players for the Nationals, they definitely don’t want to tick him off. But to pay him more money than they really have to early in his career would be a bad business decision.


What If?

Playing the “what if” game can be dangerous, but we’ve seen huge contract decisions come back to bite many teams in the you know what.

Just look at Ryan Howard, Alex Rodriguez and Carl Crawford. The list of bad contracts for star players goes on, but these three should suffice.

Howard has been good when he’s in the lineup, but that’s the problem…he can’t stay in the lineup. He keeps getting injured.

Then there’s A-Rod, who has a myriad of problems from struggles late last year and in the postseason, and the Biogenesis scandal. It was even reported by ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand that the Yankees were looking at ways to void his contract. It doesn’t sound like the Yankees have the same feeling now that they did back when they signed him to his latest contract.

Crawford has struggled with injuries as well, having played in only 123 games the last two seasons. And the year before that (his first in Boston), he batted .255 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI. 

In total, Crawford has gotten paid almost $55 million over the last three years and produced a .271 average with 19 home runs and 100 RBI. Talk about bang for your buck.

I’m not saying that Harper will turn into one of those three, but it could happen. And if it does, do you really want to be locked into a 12-year contract with him?

Long-term contracts that pay players big bucks do two things: make agents rich and prevent a team from making necessary moves years down the road.

Outside of Crawford (since he’s been traded), imagine if the Yankees and Phillies hadn’t signed Rodriguez and Howard to long-term deals. With injuries and poor play, they could have made the necessary moves to improve their teams.

Instead, those two players are getting paid to either watch or play poorly.

It all seemed good back when those contracts were given out, but like they say, “hindsight is 20-20.”


What Does the Future Hold?

In the end, Harper will eventually get a long-term contract for a large amount of dollars. After all, Boras is his agent and he has a way of doing that.

Funny thing is, he’s also Stephen Strasburg’s agent and will look to do the same thing for the pitcher.

However, the Nationals don’t need to rush to pay either extra money. Let both players get through their first year or two of arbitration and then approach a contract extension.

Giving out a contract prior to that is just like handing out free money. Why do it when you don’t have to?


Do you agree with me or think I’m full of it? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter @chris_stephens6.

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2013 Tampa Bay Rays: Signing Michael Bourn Makes Sense for Team and Outfielder

Pitchers and catchers are slated to report to their spring training camps starting on February 11, yet top free agent Michael Bourn has yet to find a home.

Agent Scott Boras has said all offseason that he is looking for a contract in the neighborhood of five years and $75 million for the All-Star center fielder. Teams that may have been interested in Bourn, such as the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies, have already filled their open positions through other free-agent signings or the trade market.

The market for Michael Bourn has appeared to dwindle, and the likelihood that he will obtain the contract that Scott Boras is said to be looking for is becoming less and less with each passing day.

The Tampa Bay Rays look to be going into the 2013 season with some combination of Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist, Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer manning the outfield. With the inevitable call-up of uber-prospect Wil Myers to take a corner outfield spot, Tampa Bay does not seem like an ideal landing spot for the speedy 30-year-old outfielder.

However, if you look at the economics in play, a one-year deal for Michael Bourn might be a smart move for both sides,

Currently the Rays hold the 23rd and 30th picks in the 2013 draft. By signing Bourn, the Rays would have to give up their 23rd pick as compensation, which really should not scare the club off.

It is already a forgone conclusion that Wil Myers will not be called up to The Show until early May, as the Rays love to control the free agency clock on all of their young players.



To sign Bourn, the Rays would have to theoretically give the center fielder a contract between $12 and $13 million for a one-year deal. As it stands right now, the Rays have a payroll just over $51 million, about $12 million less than what they started last season with. Therefore, the addition of Bourn would let Tampa stand pat with where they were last season.

Not only that, but the Rays would also not have to worry about committing long term to a player on the wrong side of 30 that relies on his speed as his biggest asset.

By signing Bourn, the Rays could start the season with an outfield of Desmond Jennings in left, Michael Bourn in center and Ben Zobrist in right field. This will allow Kelly Johnson to be the full-time second baseman, and Matt Joyce will be able to slide into the DH spot at the start of the year.

Once Myers is called up in early May, the Rays would be able to shift Zobrist to second base and move Myers into right field, then Kelly Johnson and Matt Joyce can platoon at the DH spot. By doing this, the Rays would be able to not only give themselves a strong defensive lineup, but they would also be able to utilize matchups in true Joe Maddon fashion.

While this seems all fine and dandy on the Rays’ end, what incentive would Bourn have to play in St. Pete?



The most obvious answer would be that Bourn would have a job. If we end up in spring training with the center fielder still out of work, his leverage will be reduced to almost zero.

Secondly, Bourn will be able to play in a style of offense that tailors to his strengths. It is no secret that Joe Maddon loves to play small ball and let his players race around the base paths. By having players such as Desmond Jennings, Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist hitting behind him, he’ll have a good chance of racking up some stolen bases and scoring a large amount of runs.

Since there does not appear to be a multi-year market out there for Bourn at the moment, a one-year deal with Tampa would give him a chance to build on his value with a speed-oriented offense for the 2014 off-season in hopes of securing the type of contract that he could not obtain this year.

Depending on how the season unfolds for Tampa Bay, the Rays could go in a couple of different directions should they sign Bourn.

One option for Tampa would be to flip the center fielder to a contending team to help stockpile their strong farm system should they find themselves outside of the playoff hunt at the deadline.

If Tampa finds themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt, then they could hold on to Michael Bourn and extend him a qualifying offer at the end of the season with the near guarantee that he will not accept. Chances are good that Bourn would qualify for draft pick compensation and the Rays would be able to recoup the draft pick that they would give up in 2013 to sign him.

With the start of the season just over the horizon, this is a solution that both parties should strongly consider.

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Prince Fielder and the Most Ridiculous Scott Boras Contracts in Baseball History

An agent’s primary job is to get his client, in this case an MLB player, the most money he can. And one MLB agent in particular stands head and shoulders above the rest—Scott Boras.

On Thursday afternoon, in a packed press conference at Comerica Park, the Detroit Tigers officially introduced their newest acquisition, prized free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.

Fielder, who with the help of Boras inked a nine-year, $214 million deal in the city his father previously called home, will make $23 million annually for the first two years of the deal and $24 million for the final seven.

Before everyone starts decrying how free agents and ridiculous contracts are ruining baseball, let’s not forget the simple law of economics—supply vs. demand.

With a short supply of top-tier players and a high demand from teams coveting those players, the price remains high. It really is that simple.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that fans, pundits, experts, analysts and others will view deals like the one signed by Fielder as ridiculous in nature.

Here is a list of contracts signed by Scott Boras clients that may be viewed as particularly egregious.


Begin Slideshow

Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder: Show Them the Money

Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder bat on opposite sides of the plate, Fielder’s voluminous frame on the left and Pujols’ chiseled figure to the right.

Fielder, 27, was born in Ontario, Calif., and was selected seventh overall in the 2002 MLB amateur draft by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Pujols, 31, hails from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and wasn’t bagged in the 1999 draft until the 13th round by the St. Louis Cardinals.

They look nothing alike, speak different native dialects and clearly subject themselves to contrasting dietary regimens.

On the other hand, both play first base for their respective ball clubs, and share an additional commonality that is to be the focal point of baseball media come the last out of the World Series this fall.

The pair will become the two highest sought after free agents in the offseason, and mutually swell from wealthy, to down right filthy rich.

Baltimore, Chicago (Cubs), Los Angeles (Angles), Colorado and Washington are all drooling at the thought of bolstering their respective lineups with either of the thunderous sluggers, but whom would they prefer? 

And what are the odds that either can be resigned by their current club?

Chances are greater that Pujols re-ups in St. Louis, than for Milwaukee to open up its checkbook for Fielder.

Milwaukee is locked into outfielder Corey Hart for two more seasons, second baseman Rickie Weeks for three, outfielder Ryan Braun until 2020 and has two star pitchers (Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke) who they would obviously love to sign to long-term deals in the near future.

Remember, the Brewers are financially a mid-market team, who rank 17th in payroll at roughly $85 million for 2011.

Adrian Gonzalez set the bar for first-base bombers when he agreed to a seven-year extension with the Red Sox for $154 million before the season.

Gonzalez was coming off a campaign in which he batted .298, with 31 home runs and 101 RBI for San Diego. Keep in mind Petco Park is widely considered the most difficult place to hit home runs in all of baseball.

At 29, Gonzalez fits between our two sluggers in age, and had a track record of four-straight seasons with at least 30 long balls.  He batted in at least 100 runs three of the last four seasons, with 99 in the other.

Aided by his unscrupulous super-agent Scott Boras, Fielder will presumptively be seeking to surpass Gonzalez’s arrangement in Boston

Currently leading the National League with 59 RBI, and second with 19 homers, Fielder is surely going to make the franchise that goes all in for his services pay through the teeth.

Four-straight seasons with at least 30 homers—he touched 50 in 2007, and became, along with his father Cecil, the only father-son duo to both reach that mark in an MLB season—headlines his resume.  Also worthy of note were the 141 runs he helped plate in 2009.

Although 2010 was a down year for Prince, he still reached 30 home runs and 80 RBI while struggling to the tune of a .261 BA.  Boy, has he come back with a vengeance at just the right time.

Pujols is suffering from the inverse ailment: drooping statistically at precisely the wrong time—his walk year.

After two-straight 40 moonshot seasons—never launching less than 30 in his 10 years—Albert began the season ice cold.  Even with four round trippers and 10 hits in his last 10 games, he is still holding an uncharacteristic .275 BA and .491 SLG.

Before play began this season, there was little debate that Pujols was the top slugger in the game.  A career .329 hitter with a 1.041 lifetime SLG, there was little argument to be made for any other hitter even being in his wheelhouse.

Naysayers may claim that Pujols is reaching a breaking point where his prime years are behind him, and a gradual decline in production is inevitable.

On the flip side, Pujols has been an extremely resilient hitter for the Cardinals, and until now, never displayed even a hint of slowing down offensively.

By reputation, Pujols is stronger defensively than Fielder, but the various sabermetric tools contend the difference to be slimmer than believed.

Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) from Fangraphs.com places a run value on defensive efficiency, attempting to show how many runs a player saves or allows through fielding.

This season, Pujols ranks fifth with 1.7 runs and Fielder sits 12th at 0.4.

While many defensive calculations can be used to argue for or against either player, it is doubtful that much of the contract negotiations will stray from offensive contributions.

There are whispers that a team could attempt to lure Fielder into a designated hitter role in the American League, but this early in his career, it is speculative at best to think so.

Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is a sabermetric tool that attempts to quantify a player’s total contribution by comparison to an average minor-league or bench player. Without delving into the minutia of the calculations, a WAR of 0 simply means the player is on par with a “replacement level” competitor.

As we near the mid-point of the season, Fielder’s WAR is 3.2, third among all first baseman, while Pujols checks in at 2.3.

In 2010, Pujols was the top dog at his position by WAR ranking at 7.5.  Fielder, having the worst season of his young career, finished with 3.4 WAR.

And 2009 saw the duo finish first and second in WAR rankings amongst first basemen; Pujols was good for 8.9 WAR, and Fielder 6.4 WAR.

Length of contract shouldn’t be an issue for Fielder’s suitors; any franchise seriously considering an investment in his services will enter the sweepstakes knowing that seven years will be a starting point.

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak couldn’t come to terms with Pujols before spring training, and rumors of El Hombre seeking double-digit years in a deal were rampant.

St. Louis has already breached the $100-million mark for team payroll in 2011, and that includes just under $15 million for Albert.

His next contract will basically double his per-year cost, making it extremely difficult for St. Louis to shuffle its roster without skyrocketing payroll.

Unlike with Fielder’s negotiations, age will be an integral factor.  How many high-performing 40-year-olds are there in baseball?

So, if both players fail to resign with their respective team, who is the better pursuit?

Could either player be lured to the American League, or even to a designated hitter’s role in Fielder’s case? 

Is Pujols’ slow start just an aberration, or the first sign of a gradual degeneration for baseball’s most feared batter?

No matter what the future holds for the ball-crushing duo, only one thing is certain: they are both going to get paid.

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Washington Nationals Offseason Review Part 1: The Big Picture

If you have been following the Washington Nationals’ offseason, you are aware that the team has now entered Phase Two.

If not, here is an explanation of what exactly Phase Two entails by Nats GM Mike Rizzo from Jayson Werth’s introductory press conference: “It kind of exemplifies phase two of the Washington Nationals’ process. Phase one was scouting and player development, building the farm system. Now it’s the time to go to the second phase and really compete for division titles and championships.”

Phase Two started with a bang—a $126 million bang, at that.

Unfortunately, it ended with a dud. As shocking and exciting as the Jayson Werth signing was, the Nationals’ front office has to be disappointed with their failure to find a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, an offseason goal set by Washington’s brain trust.

Again and again the Nationals’ targets landed elsewhere, and the team was forced to settle on a trade for Tom Gorzelanny. While Gorzelanny may not be the ace Washington was looking for, he will provide the Nats with an extra arm in case of an injury, a luxury the Nats have not had since the move to Washington.

The Nats failure to land a front-line starter may have actually been a blessing in disguise. After Cliff Lee, the 2010 crop of free agent pitchers was relatively weak, and overpaying—whether it be in the form of money or prospects—may have stunted the teams development.

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were the 1927 Yankees, for that matter.

With Strasburg set to return in 2012 and Bryce Harper likely to make his major league debut in the same year, it would be foolish for the Nationals to put all their eggs in one offseason’s basket, especially an offseason preceding a transition year, which the 2011 season will be for the club.

The goal of any offseason should be to improve the team, and the Nationals have done that. Will it manifest itself in an improvement on last year’s 69 wins? I don’t know, but the franchise is in a better place than it was this time last year, that is for sure.

Yes, Washington overpaid for Jayson Werth, but they had to. And the effects of that deal will be felt for offseasons to come.

One, the Nationals obviously have a good relationship with Scott Boras, who represents some of the game’s biggest stars, which may give them the inside lane on his clients in the future.

Two, the Nationals are now officially players in the offseason—exemplified by the rumors that the Nats were close to signing the crown jewel of the offseason, Cliff Lee.

Lastly, the Nats’ front office has now shown that they are willing to spend, which will help keep players like Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg—a Boras client—in Washington.


In Part 2—or should I say Phase 2—we’ll look at more of the Nationals offseason moves and their impact on the 2011 Nats.

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MLB Rumors: 10 Reasons Manny Ramirez and the Toronto Blue Jays Make Sense

Manny Ramirez is without a doubt one of the most powerful and productive hitters to ever play the game of baseball.  Manny has a career average of .313 and has hit 555 home runs in his colorful career.  Manny is a 12-time All-Star and has won the Hank Aaron award twice.  He has won two World Series rings with the Boston Red Sox (2004,2007) and was the World Series MVP in 2004.  

Despite his hitting success, Manny Ramirez has been a serious cancer to any team that has taken him in.  His immature antics, his laziness, and his lack of passion has irritated every team he has ever played for and has resulted in him switching teams on more than a few occasions.  Manny Ramirez has also been plagued by the accusations surrounding his usage of steroids.  

The past couple of years have been a struggle for Manny as he has dealt with a ton injuries and a lot of criticism.  On the occasions that Manny has played, he has hit for a high average but has been dealing with a serious power outage.  Whether it be age, injuries, or the lack of a certain performance-enhancing drug, one thing is certain, Manny is not the same Manny he once was and it appears as though retirement is not far away.

Manny would still like to play and buzz was generated when he spoke to ESPN Deportes about how he liked the Toronto Blue Jays and how he has always wanted to play with them.  Ramirez has had very few suitors this offseason and is hoping that a team will take a chance on him.  I believe that Manny Ramirez and the Toronto Blue Jays would be a perfect match for 10 reasons……

Please note that the slides are not ranked, just numbered.

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Jayson Werth and the Washington Nationals: A Match Made in Heaven

Well, first off, I haven’t seen any of the details of Jayson Werth’s brand spanking new $127M deal with the Washington Nationals. And I’m not about to say anything about the demise of baseball after another deal that is likely to be seen as a disaster.

In fact, I think there should be some kind of celebration! After all, while most average fans like me rightly consider ourselves much smarter than whatever general manager represents our favorite club, a deal like this only confirms what we already knew. I don’t know about you, but that’s a GREAT feeling!

Werth is going to be taking a lot of heat for this deal. Maybe not right away, but in 2012, when he’s hitting .249 with one home run at the All Star break and Stephen Strasburg is 5-7 with a 1.53 ERA after losing his third straight 1-0 decision, there might be some Nats fans starting to get just a tad impatient. 

If Werth turns out to be a dud like his former mates Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell, the market for Phillie outfielders who become free agents just might dry up.

We shouldn’t be blaming Werth or even everybody’s favorite agent Steve Boras for this. After all, nobody (as far as I know) was holding a gun to anybody’s head.

Really, the worst part of this deal is that the Nationals have not only tied their future to one player, but they have basically crippled their organization as far as making other improvements to the team.

Barring disaster, in a few years they will have over $50 million a year invested in three players (Werth, Strasburg, and Bryce Harper) and will have to round out their roster by filling it out with a bunch of castoffs and misfits (I know that worked for one team this year, but there’s a reason the term “castoffs and misfits” doesn’t describe most World Champions).

Bottom line is, like the Rockies on the heels of their massive deal for Troy Tulowitzki, the Nationals will have very little flexibility in the next several years. Like our current World Champion San Francisco Giants, it might well take four to five years after their big mega deal expires before they can become competitive again.

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