When it comes to free agency, the General Manager of a Major League Baseball team has a lot to think about. The endless circle of mind games commences come December, and we’re seeing that already with the New York Mets.
Omar Minaya has made moves, albeit minor ones, in this early free agent season. Chris Coste and Henry Blanco are now Mets, along with Alex Cora coming back for another year in orange and blue. We now turn our attention (while keeping the numberless multiple-team Luis Castillo trades in our peripheral vision) to the free agent names, big and small.
Given the frequent reports of the Mets’ interest in Bengie Molina, it seems that Omar Minaya has retained his attraction to the slugging backstop, who he offered a contract to after the 2006 season when he was last a free agent. Molina’s alleged demand of a 3 year, $20 million contract is a little unreasonable in the eyes of the Met fan, given his age, low OBP (only at .285 last year), and hard-to-watch speed on the basepaths. So begins the waiting game.
This battle of wills can go either way for a GM or player. A player can wait too long for his demands and the market will not work out in his favor, and he will be forced to sign a contract that is less to his liking, evidenced by the one-year deal signed by Bobby Abreu during last year’s offseason. Or, the GM will wait too long trying to whittle down a player’s asking price, only to have the player slip through their fingers to another team. The opposites, however, could play out, with a team in need going overboard on the salary of a waiting player to secure his services, or the GM successfully wheedling the player into signing a lower contract than they or their agent desired (see Fransisco Rodriguez).