Around The Diamond: Top 30 Catchers, Long-term Deals, and Everything Else

Josh BAnalyst IJanuary 24, 2009

Thanks to E.A. for coming up with the name of my weekly column.

This baseball week was another slow one for the free agent class, as many still find themselves out of a job.

But this was also another big week for long-term deals which included Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels and Nick Markakis.

Here's everything I can think of to tell you this week.


The biggest winner: The Phillies

The Phillies signed three key players to extensions this week: Hamels, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Madson.

Hamels' arbitration years were blocked out by a three-year, $20.5 million deal. While he was previously under team control for all those seasons, it gives the Phillies more money to sign Ryan Howard.

Werth signed a two-year deal worth $10 million. Werth hit 24 home runs, stole 20 bases and hit a 121 OPS in his first full year as a starter. He would have become a free agent after 2009, but he took a discount to stay a season longer.

Madson is the most impressive deal of all as he's a Scott Boras client. Madson would have been a free agent after 2009. Going into arbitration, Boras compared him to a young Mariano Rivera. Madson signed a three-year, $12 million deal.


The biggest loser: Just about any free agent offered arbitration.

Upcoming free agents should look at arbitration differently in the future. They should know that they'll make less money in a deep free agent class, and a one-year deal may not be the worst thing.

Current free agents who were offered arbitration include: Manny Ramirez, Orlando Hudson, Orlando Cabrera, Ben Sheets, Juan Cruz, Jason Varitek, and many others.

But GM's have successfully lowered the demands of most of them.


Top 30 Catchers

  1. Joe Mauer
  2. Brian McCann
  3. Russell Martin
  4. Victor Martinez
  5. Geovany Soto
  6. Yadier Molina
  7. Dioner Navarro
  8. Chris Ianetta
  9. Kurt Suzuki
  10. Ryan Doumit
  11. Chris Snyder
  12. Mike Napoli
  13. Kelly Shoppach
  14. Benjie Molina
  15. AJ Pierzynski
  16. Jorge Posada
  17. Gerald Laird
  18. Ivan Rodriguez
  19. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  20. Kenji Johjima
  21. Ramon Hernandez
  22. Taylor Teagarden
  23. Brian Schneider
  24. Rod Barajas
  25. Miguel Montero
  26. Jason Kendall
  27. John Baker
  28. Jason Varitek
  29. Jesus Flores
  30. Yorvit Torrealba


Big Deal: this week's really big stories

Jeff Kent has retired. Kent supporters say he should be in the Hall of Fame. He's the all-time leader in home runs for a second baseman with 377 and one of the best hitters at his position. Others argue that he wasn't great for very long and 377 isn't good enough nowadays.

The Orioles and Cubs exchanged Garret Olsen and Felix Pie. Prospect-for-prospect deals always make me cringe (think Carlos Quentin for Chris Carter).

Olsen is known for control, but walked 4.2/9 last season. Pie also had a lot of hype, but hasn't proven himself as an everyday player.

In case Pie doesn't work out, the Orioles can still be happy that Nick Markakis has agreed to a six-year extension worth $66 million. His splits in 2008 were .306/.406/.491. Markakis was also third in the AL in runs created and will only be 25 next season.


Lightning Round

Prince Fielder had his arbitration years bought out with a two-year, $16 million deal. Perhaps the discount will help the Brewers go after Sheets more aggressively.

Jason Kubel of the Twins signed a two-year deal with a team option. Kubel hit 20 home runs last season at 26 years of age. His career K/BB ratio is around two, which puts him in a good position to break out during the magical age-27 season.

The Tigers signed Brandon Lyon, giving them a possible answer for closer. Lyon's second half ERA was 8.46, but he had a 2.43 ERA in the first half.

The Rangers will use Omar Vizquel as the stopgap for Elvis Andrus. Vizquel was ranked the ninth best defensive shortstop by, but his range has declined along with his bat speed.

Ryan Howard will demand $18 million next year. The Phillies are willing to cough up $14 million. The result will most likely be closer to the Phillies' offer. Don't expect a trade if Howard is too expensive, as the Phillies need him for another championship run.


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