Odd offseason nearing end
Updated: February 1, 2009, 6:10 PM ETBy Buster Olney
The end of Major League Baseball's long, strange, cold winter is now in sight. As one player representative mused the other day, so much has happened that just doesn't make sense when you step back and take a look at the big picture. Some examples:
Orlando Cabrera is 34 years old and has generally been a pretty consistent player offensively and defensively. Edgar Renteria, on the other hand, is 33 years old and has widely been perceived as a player in decline, particularly on defense, and he had a lower OPS than Cabrera last season. And yet Renteria got a two-year, $18 million deal, while Cabrera remains unsigned.
Derek Lowe is 35 years old and in good condition and has been durable, which explains why he got a $60 million contract from the Braves this winter. Ben Sheets, on the other hand, is five years younger than Lowe, has been an elite pitcher when healthy, and is coming off a season in which he started the All-Star Game for the NL -- and he apparently can't get much of a sniff of multiyear offers.
The reason, you say, is because Sheets is injury prone and Lowe is not. OK, if durability is valued, then explain how it is that Milton Bradley, who has lasted 100 games in the outfield in just one season in his career, got a multiyear deal worth about $10 million per season, while Bobby Abreu, who has appeared in 151 or more games in 11 consecutive seasons, is apparently going to have to settle for a one-year deal.
In these years following the steroids era, power is scarcer than it has been in decades, more valued in drafts. But there is a 29-year-old player who has slugged 40 or more homers in five consecutive seasons -- while averaging more than 110 walks per season -- and that player, Adam Dunn, is unemployed, and might wind up settling for a one-year deal. Some team is going to benefit from a huge bargain.
Ty Wigginton hit .285 for the Astros last season, destroying left-handed pitching to the tune of a .340 batting average, a .424 on-base percentage and a .631 slugging percentage. He's respected, he plays hard, he's versatile
and he's unemployed. (In fairness, his home/road splits are probably a concern -- Wigginton hit .343 in Houston and .234 outside of Houston in 2008).
In a vacuum, it makes no sense that future Hall of Famers are scrambling for low-paying jobs. But the list of unemployed guys who will one day make speeches in Cooperstown is currently very, very long: Tom Glavine, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Ivan Rodriguez, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Manny Ramirez. In addition, there are some unemployed guys who probably won't get in but will each receive some HOF votes, guys like Jim Edmonds, Andruw Jones and Luis Gonzalez.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
We see that you are not an ESPN Insider. Upgrade today and gain access to our exclusive coverage.