Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Transaction Recap: Red Sox, Cubs

Red Sox:

Win negotiating rights with Daisuke Matsuzaka for $51.1 million

Wow. I'd heard rumors of a $25-30M bid being bandied around, but this is an impressive sum no matter how you slice it.

Everyone in the statistical community is convinced that Matsuzaka will be one of the top 15 starters in the majors next year, and I see no reason to disagree based on his numbers and the few times I've seen him pitch. Is he worth $51 million plus another $10 million or more per year? Of course not, but the Red Sox gain additional benefits from the signing:

  • Similar to the Yankees' logic behind last year's Johnny Damon signing, the fact that Matsuzaka likely would have gone to the Bronx gives the Red Sox extra incentive to bid him up, to prevent him from falling into enemy hands
  • The posting fee does not count towards luxury tax payments
  • The signing may give the Red Sox some of the marketability in Asia that the Yankees and Mariners currently enjoy, which will certainly lead to additional revenue
All this still doesn't rationalize a $51 million bid. Unless Matsuzaka signs a very cheap contract--unlikely with Scott Boras as his agent--the Sox overpaid. In the end, though, they come out looking much better for 2007.

Cubs:

Signed Mark DeRosa to a three-year, $13 million contract

Maybe it's the "wait till next year" mentality that I grew up with as a Cubs fan, but I bought into the talk of new Cubs President John McDonough about making the World Series an immediate goal. That faith was reinforced by the re-signings of Aramis Ramirez, Kerry Wood, and Wade Miller, before being destroyed by this doozy.

It didn't take long for the Cubs to revert to their old ways of signing players coming off career years to three-year deals for mid-market money. To the Cubs' credit, they've broken the cycle twice in two years, as neither Jacque Jones nor DeRosa is a reliever, and Jones was coming off two consecutive poor seasons with Minnesota.

The real problem here is the opportunity cost, as this year's free agent market is deep with productive second basemen, all of whom are off the Cubs' radar now.

I don't really have much to add. Everyone knows DeRosa is not a difference-maker, but maybe, if the Cubs are lucky, he can perform near a league-average level in 2007. He is still a better hitter than Ronny Cedeno or Cesar Izturis, so as long as the Cubs don't play him in an outfield corner like Texas did, their lineup will survive.

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