Baseball's Biggest Free Agents Both Surrounded By Mistakes

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IDecember 10, 2008

You might think what I'm about to say is going to be extremely contradictory, but trust me, I'm going somewhere with both points.

Both Francisco Rodriguez and CC Sabathia made mistakes with their new contracts.

In fact, only one group didn’t make a mistake in the past two days. That would be the New York Mets.

Let's start with Francisco Rodriguez's three-year, 37 million dollar contract with the New York Mets.

Why didn't the Mets screw this one up?

Simple, supply outweighed demand.

They named their price for Rodriguez without giving out one of those franchise-crippling contracts. Sure, no other team other than the Angels would have and could have given that to Rodriguez, but they also got themselves a closer for the right price.

How often does that happen?

Here is a guy who just broke the single season saves record and was asking for a five year deal worth upwards of 50 million dollars.

The deal he signed with the Mets is what Brian Fuentes of the Colorado Rockies was looking for.

He signed for Brian Fuentes money. How is that not a sound move for the Mets?

The bad economy and demand for closers really made this all possible. The second most eager suitor out there is Cleveland! CLEVELAND! When's the last time they spent money on a big time free agent acquisition?

Add in the facts that there are really only three or four teams eagerly searching for a guy to close out ball games and are more closers than spots at this time.

You have a perfect storm for a team like New York to get an All-Star closer for a decent price.

Remember the deal Rodriguez was offered from the Angels?  Yeah it was right there with what he signed for with the Mets.

So how did testing the free agent market work out for you K-Rod?

Really then, you ask, what was Rodriguez supposed to do?

Accept arbitration, of course.

Take your one year deal and try again next year when there is maybe more of a market for a closer and less options out there for teams. Add into the fact maybe the economy won't be so bad it's affecting the way every team, aside from the Yankees of course, operate.

I know, the opportunity to get your money and your free agent contract is as good as it will ever be coming off a record-setting season.

But there's a good chance that you can earn more money or a longer deal next year.

Right now, the only other closer that is a free agent (not including players with options) who is a bona fide closer is Jose Valverde.

This year, you’re dealing with Kerry Wood, Trevor Hoffman, Brian Fuentes and the numerous options available through trade, such as JJ Putz, Valverde himself, and Huston Street.

Francisco Cordero got four years, 46 million dollars from Cincinnati in 2007. Granted, per year, Rodriguez got a better deal, but did he get the long term security?

I'd say no. Sure Cordero and Rodriguez will both be free agents in three years provided they don't sign extensions or get cut.

Hey, great for Rodriguez and great for New York, but even greater for New York. I don't believe Rodriguez and his agent played this as well as they could have.

That brings me to the deal that neither sides played very well.

Then again, it's hard to argue that CC Sabathia made a mistake when he just made 161 big ones.

Let me just say as a fan of Cleveland and someone who watched his entire career up to this point, I'm extremely happy for CC and his payday. He deserves his free agency shot.

I will also say that I had no illusions about the Indians signing him to that sort of deal, but I did hope that he would have given us more of a head shake during the 2008 season when he was offered a contract extension.

However, both the New York Yankees and CC Sabathia's party made mistakes.

The Yankees probably made a bigger one but Sabathia probably made the most disappointing one.

Let me start with the Yankees.

There is an opt-out clause after three years?


I'm going out on a limb right now and say that in three years, along with Rodriguez and Cordero, once again, CC Sabathia will be a free agent.

I'm that positive that Sabathia will not like New York.

Now, who am I to tell the Yankees how to operate, considering I'm just an outsider looking at what they've done and reading what is reported.

But did they just out-bid themselves?

Wasn't the deal for 140 million dollars, not 161 million dollars?

Wasn't it for six years, not seven years?

To my knowledge, none of those teams on the west coast came in and offered anything even close to what the Yankees were originally offering. What made this go up?

Doug Melvin had it right---the Yankees are outbidding themselves for something they have no need to outbid themselves on.

I know you want him signed but your arrogance has to stop at some point. If you don't have to give him the extra 20 million, don't.

It's simple as that.

Then you switch over to Sabathia and all I can do is shake my head.

Here is a guy who I truly believed had the right mind and clear head to say no to an extra 20 million dollars, to do what's best for CC Sabathia. Not CC Sabathia's agent or CC Sabathia's wallet.

But alas, I've been duped.

I don't see how the New York media or fan base will welcome CC Sabathia in with open arms and treat him with respect after he has a bad game.

In fact, the fans are already out in full force saying he's a choker, before he's even pitched a game in the Yankee pinstripes.

Sabathia was revered by Cleveland and then Milwaukee when he put that team on his back and took them to the playoffs.

He would have been praised by the fan bases in California if he took less money to pitch for his home base.

I know, I know.

I don't blame him for taking the money; I think he has the right to do so.

But, if CC Sabathia won't turn down the almighty dollar for a chance to guarantee his happiness back home in a less hostile environment, then I don't think anyone will.


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