Mariners pulling off a heist

December, 15, 2009
12/15/09
2:57
AM ET
Dave Cameron really, really, really likes what the Mariners seem to be doing. The big finish:

    This is, quite frankly, a heist. The Mariners are getting a Cy Young caliber pitcher for some decent-but-not-great prospects. They aren’t giving up Morrow. They aren’t giving up Saunders. They aren’t even giving up Triunfel. And yet, they walk away with one of the five or six best pitchers in baseball.

    Forget that we probably only have Lee for a year. We’re paying for about two months worth of his services and getting four months for free.

    Seriously, dance in the streets. Build a bust of Zduriencik and place it on your mantle. Name your first born son Jack and your daughter Jackie. When this becomes official, hug someone. This trade is that good.

Just summarizing Cameron's math:

  • One season of Cliff Lee is worth $25 million.
  • If he leaves as a free agent after next season, the M's will be compensated with a couple of draft picks worth at least $5 million.
  • The three prospects the M's are supposedly sending to Toronto are worth $13 million.
  • Lee's salary next season is $8 million.
Got all that?

I'm not sure I do. Cameron says the M's are paying for two months of Lee's services and getting four months for free, but it seems to me that they're paying for four months, and getting two months for free. Right? They're giving up $21 million -- his salary, plus the three prospects -- and getting roughly $30 million of value in return. Which is still one hell of a transaction.

Actually, I do know where the discrepancy comes from. In his analysis, Cameron correctly assumes ranges of value for the unknowns, and I used the lower values of the range because I think a conservative approach is best in these matters. But it doesn't really matter. Cameron's right: It's a heist. And it's worth taking a moment and ruminating about where this franchise is today, and where it was just one year ago.

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