Chicago Cubs, John Grabow Talk Multi-Year Deal...Wait, What?!

Damen JacksonCorrespondent INovember 3, 2009

Filed: Nov. 3, 2009

Bruce Levine of ESPN 1000 is reporting that the Cubs and reliever John Grabow are in the midst of heavy talks for a multi-year deal. Levine reports that the offer is reportedly to be a $6.5 to $7.5 million pact, with a third year being a possibility.

Some people never learn. I expected the Cubs to make a meaningful offer to retain John Grabow, especially given that he was effective down the stretch for the Cubs. If, at the end of the day, the Cubs can lock him up at under $6.5 million, preferably with the second year as an option, then this is a win-win in my book.

But I'm seeing the continuation of disturbing trends here that I hoped would cease with the ownership transition. Multi-year deals for relievers are reserved for lights-out firemen, closers, and guys with an established history of success. Not for lefties with average stats, pitching in low-stress innings for a perennial loser in Pittsburgh.

The formula is to have these guys on one-year deals, where they play for their pay, allowing your club the most financial flexibility possible, and giving them to ability to concentrate on allocating money to players who provide the best return on the investment. And those are usually not guys pitching in 60 innings of middle relief a season.

The Cubs have seen this as recently as a couple of years ago, when lengthy deals made to Scott Eyre and Bob Howry had both hanging around at least a year too long, for various reasons.

Here's the real problem though. At the end of the day, the Cubs are bidding against themselves. Grabow, a likely Type A free agent, is probably the softest of the lefties hitting the market this offseason. With Joe Beimel (better stats, and playoff experience), Mike Gonzalez (potential closer fallback), Billy Wagner (same), and Ron Mahay on the market as well, there are any number of lefties here that either won't cost a team a first round pick, or can better justify that compensation in their signing.

The Cubs need only offer John Grabow arbitration, and his free agent status deteriorates to the point where he's almost forced to return to the Cubs, likely on a one year, $4 million dollar package. Simple, easy, and cost controlled.

And if he leaves, the Cubs collect not one, but two picks in next year's draft. Where's the downside here?

Wanting John Grabow back is fine, and if Jim Hendry can get him with one, plus an option, I think he should do that. But upwards of $4 million per, with a potential third year vested added in is pure nonsense.

Too much money, too many years, and bidding against yourselves. The more that I hear that, the less I like it.


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