According to Dejan Kovacevic, the Pirates have asked Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez to take “sizeable cuts”. I can understand this. It’s not like this is a booming market for free agents. But it does raise a question: how much is each player worth? Let’s start with Jack Wilson.
Last year we saw Orlando Cabrera settle for a one year/$4 M deal. Here is how Cabrera compares to Jack Wilson from 2006-2008, aka, the three years leading up to Cabrera’s contract:
Cabrera: .288/.338/.390, 76.24 AB/HR, about 20 SB per year, 20.6 combined UZR
Wilson: .281/.328/.390, 63.09 AB/HR, 2 SB/year, 4.6 combined UZR
You could easily make the argument that Cabrera is more valuable, yet he only received $4 M and a one year deal (although he was a Type A free agent, which played a role in his value). That’s why I can’t see Wilson getting more than $4 M a year, and why I don’t expect many years.
As for Freddy, there was another situation last year, this time involving Orlando Hudson. Hudson only received a one year, $3.38 M deal, with incentives that could take his deal to $8 M total. If Hudson gets up to 632 plate appearances, he earns $6.93 M this year, with $1.07 M deferred without interest, so it’s not like a normal one year, $8 M deal.
Comparing the two:
Hudson: .294/.365/.448, 45.55 AB/HR, -5.9 UZR
Sanchez: .306/.340/.429, 67.42 AB/HR, 7.8 UZR
Hudson brings a better OBP, and a little more power, but Freddy is better defensively. Hudson has combined for a 7.9 wins above replacement (WAR) from 06-08, while Freddy has combined for a 9.0 WAR in that same time span. You could make the argument that Freddy is better than Hudson, and more deserving of a higher contract.
I’d say Freddy is worth more than the $5 M a year offer, especially considering he’s pretty much guaranteed $8 M next season. Maybe a two year, $12 M offer would be better, as that’s $4 M on top of his $8 M option, and in the end is still affordable for the Pirates (since they’re apparently offering 2/$10).
In DK’s blog post, he mentions that the Pirates feel that second base would be easier to fill from the outside than shortstop. I’d agree on that, but at what price? I’m not sure there are better free agent options next year than what Freddy brings to the table. Looking at the free agent list, Freddy seems to be one of the best guys available (although he probably won’t be a free agent). The other guys available, via MLB Trade Rumors:
Ronnie Belliard (35)
Jamey Carroll (36)
Alex Cora (34)
Craig Counsell (39)
Mark DeRosa (35)
David Eckstein (35)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
Orlando Hudson (32)
Akinori Iwamura (31) – $4.25MM club option with a $250K buyout
Adam Kennedy (34)
Felipe Lopez (30)
Mark Loretta (38)
Pablo Ozuna (35)
Placido Polanco (34)
Juan Uribe (31)
From that list, only Felipe Lopez is better than Freddy defensively this season, although only slightly. Freddy has a 2.6 WAR this year, better than any other free agent second baseman, including Hudson and Lopez.
We can assume that they’re not going to sign a guy like Hudson or Lopez if they won’t retain Freddy. Each will probably cost the same amount, and if they’re not signing Freddy for that amount, they probably won’t sign the other two.
The other option would be getting a prospect in a trade, such as Eric Young Jr. The problem here is that a Sanchez to Colorado deal makes little sense, as the Rockies have their infield set at the majors. It would be more likely to see a Capps for Young Jr. deal, with Freddy getting shipped out afterwards.
That raises a problem. Jack and Freddy are friends, and if Freddy is gone, I don’t see a way Jack signs. We’ve seen Wilson’s negative public reactions to many trades. Does anyone think he’d sign an extension with a team that just traded his best friend, knowing his history on how he feels about trading for the future?
The Pirates are in a tough situation. Jack Wilson is important to them, but will only come with Freddy Sanchez attached. Freddy Sanchez could be a big trade chip, and replaced easier than Jack, but by trading Freddy, the Pirates are burning their bridge with Jack. So do they give in and sign Freddy to a deal they don’t like? Or do they trade Freddy, forcing them to go through the trouble of having to replace Jack Wilson next year (assuming they don’t exercise his $8.4 M option)?
The MVP Tracker
The top performers tonight for the MVP Tracker:
1. Paul Maholm: .387 WPA
2. Jeff Karstens: .286
3. Garrett Jones: .284
4. Jesse Chavez: .223
5. Matt Capps/Evan Meek/John Grabow (all tied): .143
-My video recap of Jeff Locke’s start from tonight’s Lynchburg Hillcats game is also up.
-Lastings Milledge won’t be in Pittsburgh right away. If you’re thinking that has to do with “Super Two” eligibility, here is the rundown on Milledge:
Before the season he had 2 years and 4 days of service time.
So far this season he’s had 9 days of service time.
If he was called up today, and spent the rest of the year in the majors, he would get 79 days of service time. That would give him a total of 2 years, 92 days of service time.
A year of service time is 172 days, so he wouldn’t be close to his third year. To be eligible for Super Two status, he’d need the following:
1. 86 or more days in 2009
2. Rank in the top 17% in service time the last two years of all players with two years of service time over that span
For #2, there’s no set amount, but the usual range is anywhere between 120 and 140 days. With only 92 days of service time, Lastings would fall short.
As for #1, if he’s called up on 7/21 and spends the rest of the season in the majors, there’s no way he can reach 86 days of service time this year, meaning there’s no way he could qualify for Super Two status. So he can be called up on Tuesday with a guarantee that he won’t be a Super Two player, although he doesn’t have much of a shot of qualifying anyways.