Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday: Covering the Bases

Lots of shortstop news this week…

· The full effect of the economic crisis was seen this week when the Yankees – the Yankees! – refused to offer arbitration to Bobby Abreu out of fear that it would result in the veteran outfielder receiving a one-year contract in the neighborhood of $16-18 million. Executives from both leagues think Abreu’s next deal will have a much lower annual value, perhaps as low as $8-10 million. That said, the Rays, who are in the market for an offensive-minded corner outfielder (preferably a right fielder), have to be paying particularly close attention to these recent developments. Don’t be surprised if the current economic malaise combined with the glut of corner outfielders on the market will continue to depress salaries, which, in turn, could cause an Abreu, Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell to fall right into Tampa’s lap.

· Multiple analysts have commented that the Padres’ trade yesterday of shortstop Khalil Greene to St. Louis would free up enough money to perhaps enable them to hang on to ace Jake Peavy (Greene is owed $6.5 million for 2009). Padres GM Kevin Towers sure hopes so because after yesterday a Peavy-to-Atlanta deal is far less likely. Not only is Greene no longer available to replace Yunel Escobar, who was long-rumored to be a component in any Padres-Braves deal, but former Braves prospect Brent Lillibridge’s inclusion in the Javier Vazquez trade takes yet another possible Escobar replacement out of the equation.

· Yesterday was not a good day for free agent Rafael Furcal, who saw his market shrink considerably. With St. Louis (Greene) and San Francisco (Edgar Renteria) both addressing their needs, Oakland is left as the only obvious landing spot for Furcal. And A’s GM Billy Beane, being the smart cookie that he is, is never one to bid against himself.

· And, finally, the Jack Wilson-to-Detroit trade rumors never made any sense. Not only is the $7.25 million Wilson is owed next year well out of the Tigers’ price range, but Wilson would have cost GM Dave Dombrowski at least one mid-level prospect (multiple sources have suggested that slugging corner infielder Jeff Larish was coveted by the Pirates). If Dombrowski continues to look externally to fill the team’s shortstop void, the name which makes the most sense is free agent Adam Everett. He’s cheap, won’t cost the team any prospects or draft picks and would likely accept a one-year deal. However, we here at Infield Chatter advocate the team shifting incumbent third baseman Brandon Inge to shortstop, moving Carlos Guillen from left field to third base and replacing Guillen with a Matt Joyce/Marcus Thames platoon. This alignment would help preserve Guillen’s back and knee while taking advantage of Inge’s range.

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