Friday, January 25, 2008

Transaction Recap

Since I'm back to posting anyway, let's get some recent transactions out of the way:

White Sox: Signed RP Octavio Dotel for 2 years, $11 million (Rating: 3/10)

The money won't cripple them, and Dotel showed some impressive dominance last year. However, he's a humongous health risk, the team is still going nowhere in 2008-09, and the move forced the team to DFA David Aardsma. Anyone who can K over a batter per inning in the AL deserves another look, and I'm sure Aardsma will get one.

Indians: Signed RP Rafael Betancourt for 2 years, $5.4 million, with $5 million 2010 club option (7)

I like the timing of this move. Middle relievers aren't that expensive, but closers are, and there's a good chance Betancourt assumes that role sometime in 2008. Raffy's not perfect--he can't get a ground ball to save his life--but he piles up strikeouts without any walks, and those are the most important skills a pitcher can possess. (Edit: Fixed this comment. I shouldn't stop for a lunch break in the middle of a sentence.)

Rockies: Signed SS Troy Tulowitzki for 6 years, $31 million, with $15 million 2014 club option (7)

I'm normally a bigger fan of deals like this, which buy out the player's arbitration years and lock in cost-certainty. Still, this one is unlikely to save the Rox a ton of money, since defense-first players will likely still be underpaid down the road. However, I do like that they bought out one free agent year with an option for a second, which should be the main goal of this contract from the team's standpoint. Tulo is a damn good player, and it's important to keep those guys around as long as possible.

Tigers: Signed SP Dontrelle Willis for 3 years, $29 million (5) and SP Nate Robertson for 3 years, $21.25 million (4)

Meh. The 2005 version of Dontrelle is never coming back, and Robertson was never that great to begin with. Still, the pay isn't exorbitant, and the Tigers don't have a lot of pitching help on the way.

Rays: Signed SP Jamie Shields for 4 years, $11.25 million, with club options through 2014 (8) and Carlos Pena for 3 years, $24 million (7)

Shields's is a deal I like for several reasons. The total guaranteed money is low, the option years are big bargains, and the deal was signed right before the Rays are about to enjoy a huge defensive upgrade, which will improve the perception of Shields's pitching abilities. Locking him into a long-term contract right before an increase in his perceived value is a nice coup.

It's good to see the team lock up Pena as well, even though they've only bought out one year of free agency. Given that Pena is no spring chicken and he's never hit like this before, this contract seems like a fair hedge against the likelihood that he won't reach the heights of 2007 again.

A key point here is that the 2010 Rays look like they will be right in the thick of the playoff race, but they don't have an impact first baseman in the system and probably can't afford to sign one until they start selling tickets. This deal should solve that problem for the time being.

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