Seven simple rules to make your Hot Stove trade rumors more realistic.
Big baseball fans love October; huge baseball fans love November, too. Now, I'm not talking about the occasional World Series that peeks around the corner into November, I'm talking about Hot Stove season. The Hot Stove League is a great circuit for baseball fans, because every team is currently undefeated and nobody other than the most recent draft class is untradeable. Anybody could potentially be out there on the mound pitching your team a shutout on the first Monday of April. Anybody could be hitting a grand slam for your team in the first inning.
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Oops. In itself, the deal with the Angels isn't a bad thing, it's just that it doesn't fit in very well with the initial decision to keep Juan Uribe for $4.5 million, and there's the irony that the exchange might have also encouraged the Halos to upgrade on Gary Matthews Jr. and go get the center fielder Kenny Williams so clearly wanted for his own club.
The A's odd decision to cut loose Loaiza is the windfall that may save the Dodgers, Soriano's return to the Cubs creates a curious deployment of outfield arm strength, and Sheffield's shelving makes waves that could sink Detroit.
Nate wraps up his series on the perils and payoffs for going above slot in the Rule 4 Draft.
Picking up from where we left off yesterday, let's take a more detailed look at the subset of players selected between 1998 and 2001, which represents 32 names in all. These are players who have already exhausted their arbitration clocks, or are close enough to doing so that we can form some reasonable estimate of their likely return.
Nate turns his attention to the individual big bonus players from the last decade, and determines whether their teams would do it all over again.
What follows is a comprehensive roster of all players between 1998 and 2006 who were drafted with one of the first 100 selections and who also went for at least $500,000 over slot, considering both their signing bonus and any guaranteed MLB money. I've used the 2006 slot values for all seasons from 2000-2006, as MLB has generally been very successful at containing draft inflation during this period (in fact, the draft slots went down in 2007). The slots do appear to have been a little lower in 1999 and 1998, and so I've scaled those back by five percent and 10 percent respectively, rounding off to the nearest "big" number. I've also indicated those cases where the player's alternative careers in football or basketball could have influenced his signing bonus. Finally, I've posed a simple question: If the team had perfect knowledge of what that player was going to do, would they commit the same money again?
Nate embarks on a three-part series to explain how things are working, why we are where we are, and what we might do to build a better system.
Maybe you've had this experience. Your wife's annoying cousin is in town, and you've managed to get him out of the house for the evening. Eventually, he walks back in and states emphatically, "I just paid 20 dollars for a steak dinner!" You are at a complete loss for how to react. Is he telling you this because he thinks $20 for a steak dinner is really expensive? Or because he thinks it's really cheap? If you guess wrong about his intentions, you will either make him feel like a cheapskate, or some kind of country bumpkin. So, you shrug your shoulders and just say "huh."
The Yankees third baseman has a decision to make after this season. Would he really leave $81 million on the table?
The question of whether Alex Rodriguez will exercise his opt-out clause and become a free agent next winter isn't going to be answered for eight months. A key piece of information-how Rodriguez plays in 2007-is a complete unknown at this point. For all the discussion of this issue over the past few days, the fact that we have no idea what kind of year Rodriguez is about to have undercuts the chatter. Whether it's practical or not, free agents get paid based on their most recent performance. It's why Gil Meche and Alfonso Soriano and, before that, Carl Pavano and Eric Milton became very wealthy men despite thin track records. Timing, in free agency, is everything. So without knowing what Rodriguez's 2007 stat line will look like, it's hard to speculate whether he can reasonably opt out.