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Free Agency and Trades
Red Sox Officially Announce Signing Matt Albers, Send Patterson to Padres PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Tetreault   
Thursday, 16 December 2010 16:36

The Boston Red Sox today signed right-handed pitcher Matt Albers to a one-year contract through the 2011 season.  Additionally, the club sent infielder/outfielder Eric Patterson to the San Diego Padres, completing the December 6 trade in which the Red Sox acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.

Albers, 27, compiled a 5-3 record with a 4.52 ERA (38 ER/75.2 IP) and 49 strikeouts over a career-high 62 relief appearances with Baltimore in 2010.  He tossed more than 1.0 inning on 25 occasions last season, tops among American League relievers, and also ranked among the best in the league in innings pitched, winning percentage and ground ball/fly ball ratio .  Selected by Houston in the 23rd round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, the right-hander is 15-25 with a 5.11 ERA and 206 strikeouts over 181 career Major League appearances (23 starts) with the Astros (2006-07) and Orioles (2008-10).

Patterson hit .226 with two home runs and seven RBI in 45 games with the Red Sox in 2010 after being acquired from Oakland on June 26.  Between the two clubs, the 27-year-old compiled a .214 average while establishing career highs in most counting stats, including games (90), at-bats (187), runs (26), hits (40), doubles (8), triples (5), home runs (6), RBI (16) and stolen bases (11).  He owns a .224 clip with eight home runs, 42 RBI and 27 stolen bases in 30 attempts over 179 career Major League games with the Cubs (2007-08), Athletics (2008-10) and Red Sox (2010).

Source: NESN


Joe TetreaultJoe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball

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Oakland and Washington Agree on Deal for Josh Willingham PDF Print E-mail
Free Agency, Trades, and Signings
Written by Joe Tetreault   
Thursday, 16 December 2010 15:53

Oakland continued to re-shape their offense to complement their solid young pitching, agreeing on a trade with Washington for Josh Willingham. According to tweets from both ESPN's Buster Olney who broke word of the deal, and Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal who has the details of the Nats return, the deal was reached earlier today. The Nationals pick up reliever Henry Rodriguez and minor-league outfielder Corey Brown.

Willingham continues his time in offensively starved environs.  Beginning in Florida and moving to DC after 2008, he's consistently put up solid if unspectacular numbers at the plate.  Oakland is equally inhospitable, but the A's are counting on an approximation of the .265/.367/.475 career batting line he has posted over eight big-league seasons.  In 2010, he played a total of 114 games for the Nationals, mostly in left field and put up a .268/.389/.459 line. That output was better than any other Oakland hitter in the recently completed season.

Rodriguez will be 24 next season and has parts of two big-league seasons in which he has been used entirely in relief. In his 31.2 innings with the A's, he's shown good strikeout ability.  That follows some exceptional punch out numbers in the minors.  For his minor league-career he's notched 11.6 strikeouts for every nine innings pitched.  His ERA though at both levels has yet to catch up to the heat he's throwing past hitters, with a 4.55 number in 2010.

Brown, though a career minor leaguer, is older than Rodriguez and will be 25.  He fits the tweener profile, a bat that plays better in center, but a glove more suited for a corner outfield spot. For his career he has hit .272/.359/.497 in 390 games.

This is Oakland's second big batting acquisition this week, after they signed Hideki Matsui to a one-year, $4.25 million contract on Tuesday. Earlier in the offseason, the A's swung a deal with the Royals for David DeJesus. The moves should   They had been very interested in signing Adrian Beltre, but the free agent's interest has been lukewarm at best.


Joe TetreaultJoe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball

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Red Sox Ink Bobby Jenks to 2-yr $12M Deal PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Tetreault   
Thursday, 16 December 2010 15:11

Bobby Jenks is heading to Boston, at least that is what Buster Olney of ESPN has heard. He's set to receive $12 million guaranteed over the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He had spent the entirety of his career with the White Sox until the club elected to non-tender the big closer in November.
According to speculation, Jenks was assured a shot at the closing job in Boston in the event that Jonathan Papelbon leaves via free agency after the 2011 season, or is traded prior to the end of the coming season. In the meantime he will set up Papelbon, who remains the closer in Boston.  Daniel Bard was Papelbon's primary set up man in 2010, and was seen the likely successor to Papelbon.
Jenks was hampered by injuries in 2010, and turned in one of his worst seasons as a professional. Even so, he recorded 61 strikeouts in 52.2 innings pitched, some of the best strikeout numbers of his career.  He was able to convert 27 or 31 of his save opportunities.  His 4.44 ERA was the worst of his career.


Joe TetreaultJoe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball

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Rangers React to Losing Cliff Lee PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Tetreault   
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 14:51

RangersReturning to the city of brotherly love, Cliff Lee stunned his two most ardent pursuers, the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers.  Yankee GM Brian Cashman maintains that the Yankees will remain patient in their pursuit of talent to round out MLB’s most storied franchise.

For the Rangers however, today was an opportunity to reflect on what was an aggressive chase, but one they did not feel comfortable closing.

Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg laid it all out for reporters, “This was not a matter of Cliff making a decision not to come to Texas. He was willing to remain a Ranger but…it was on terms we felt went beyond the aggressive parameters we were already operating.”

In a conference called filled with polite comments about Cliff Lee and his time in Texas, the Rangers’ guiding principle is best described as discipline.  Though eager to retain, Lee, the club was unwilling to push the envelope in a fashion that would hamper their future success.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels told the reporters, “We couldn’t find terms that worked for our situation. We knew what it would take for them to come here and we weren’t comfortable with that.”

“I don’t want to pretend that we’re happy or relieved. That’s not the case. We wanted to sign the player,” Daniels added.

Texas does have reason to be happy.  Though retaining Lee would have benefited them at little cost beyond cash, they still have a young club with a steady supply of pitching talent.  Their hitters aren’t shabby either. Their outfield of reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Julio Borbon and David Murphy has an average age of 28.5, with Hamilton and Cruz both still in their prime at age 30 in 2011.  Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus make a formidable and young middle infield combination.

Questions appear in the pitching staff and at first base entering 2011, though.  Trading first base prospect Justin Smoak won them a rental of Lee and now two extra picks in June’s draft. Neither Mitch Moreland who played well down the stretch nor Chris Davis who played well in 2008 are sure things at first, and since both are 25 year old left handed hitters, they cannot easily be platooned for maximum production.

And with first basemen like Adam Dunn, Adrian Gonzalez and now even Lyle Overbay off the market, Texas has few immediate options to upgrade, short of swinging a deal.  They have been linked to Adrian Bletre, but that would cost them their own first round draft choice, and provide a logjam at third base, while doing nothing to solve first.  Few obvious solutions are to be found this late in the offseason.

Daniels, however, insists that the club didn’t pass up on likely acquisitions, “There’s no player that has gone off the board that we would have acquired that we missed out because we were waiting for Cliff.  The biggest thing with the situation was the time it took.  There were players we liked, but not necessarily at the dollars or the trade cost they came off the board at.”

The trade cost to which Daniels refers is best known as the stable of young pitchers Texas has been grooming.  Neftali Feliz closed for the club last year en route to the AL Rookie of the Year award, but came up through their organization as a starter.  He could shift back to starting in spring training.

The club also must hope that Scott Feldman can bounce back to provide quality innings in 2011.  But a dynamic addition would require the kind of trade cost Daniels surrendered to pick up Lee – a top prospect like Martin Perez, Jurickson Profar or Tanner Scheppers.  But Scheppers and Perez are both ticketed for the Rangers new AAA affiliate in Round Rock, and could conceivably contribute to the big-league club in 2011.

Those assets give Daniels confidence that even without a significant upgrade, his team should be able to compete in the AL West next year. So don’t expect a panic move to mark the end of the year.

“We’re not going to bounce back or rebound so to speak and overpay for something that we don’t think is worth it.”  In the end, they deemed Cliff Lee’s requirements to remain a Ranger not worth the value he would have brought the club.  Their prudent operation might surprise observers aware of how flush they are with additional resources, but reflects how well aware of the new ownership is of the consequences of free spending.

Greenberg underlined that point clearly, “We were very aggressive in our efforts. We were willing to step out in terms of some of the things that under different circumstances we would have been willing to do. We said all along that while we were going to be aggressive, we were going to be responsible and not risk placing this franchise back in the kind of mess that it was in for a number of years before our group acquired the franchise.  We were aggressive as we were comfortable being.”


Joe TetreaultJoe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball

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Breaking Down Cliff Lee's Deal to the Phillies PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 01:10

UPDATE (10am ET - Tues) Vesting option details added.

UPDATE (1am ET - Tues) : According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, the Phillies upped the deal for Lee to $120 million for 5-years plus the vesting option year

EDITOR'S NOTE: Maury Brown will be on Sirius/XM Radio's MLB Network Radio at 10:30am ET to talk the Lee deal and the free agent market this off-season.


THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...

 

Cliff Lee, the most coveted free agent this off-season, has gone, not the Yankees or Rangers, but a late charging “mystery team” in his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies.

According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Lee has accepted a 5-year, $120 million deal with the Phillies. The contract has a vesting option for an additional year. The option vests at $27.5 million if he pitches 200 innings in 2015 or 400 innings in 2014/2015 seasons, according to Crasnick. Deal includes $12.5MM buyout.To place the contract in perspective, the Yankees had offered deal of 5-years, $125 million, 6-years, $144 million, and 7-years, $161 million. In terms of the Yankees offers, at the very least Lee is leaving $5 million on the table, or as much as $41 million if Lee had accepted the 7-year deal. As of publication, the full details of the Rangers offers were not public.

The 5-year base has an average annual value (AAV) of $24 million, moving Lee ahead of CC Sabathia and Joe Mauer as the 4th highest paid player in history by AAV, and 2nd highest for a pitcher.

According to Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker, “The deal came together in a hurry.” (Jon Heyman via Twitter) .

In making the deal, the Phillies have broken a club taboo in offering more than 3-years of contract life as the base for any deal with a pitcher. Roy Halladay’s 2011-13 deal is for $60 million, Cole Hamels 2009-11 contract totals $20.5 million. Ryan Madson’s 2009-11 deal is for $12 million.

According to the MLBPA’s annual report just released, the Phillies had the second highest average salary in baseball last year at $5,662,551, a 28 percent increase from the 2009 average salary of $4,055,455. The increased salary moved the Phillies from ranking 8th in average salary in 2009 to 2nd behind only the Yankees ($7,604,937) for 2010. According to the MLBPA’s 2009 report the Phillies ranked 11th in average salary for the 2008 season at $3,393,916. Since 2006, the average salary for the club has increased 54 percent.

The move to land Lee will put the club on an even higher salary scale, meaning that the shedding of salary is almost assuredly in order. Joe Blanton’s salary arbitration avoiding 3-year deal for $24 million was inked in January of this year, with him earning just $1 million for the 2010 season. The numbers explode to $8.5 million for 2011 and 2012 making the RHP a prime target to move. Rumors are that the Phillies are willing to eat part of his salary in order to make room on the Phillies ledger for Lee.

The one break this year is that the Phillies have no salary arbitration eligible players to deal with. To add to the belt tightening, the Phillies have the option of possibly not pursuing 5 free agents in the 2011 off-season (Raul Ibanez, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson, Dayns Baez, Brian Schneider, and Ross Gload).


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Standing Pat: Yankees Won't Offer Up More For Cliff Lee PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 12 December 2010 23:26

The Yankees have said they are done making offers to Cliff Lee. The Rangers have offered up a menu of multiple offers. All of them are believed to not exceed 7-years in duration.

Now, the waiting game begins.

For Lee, the best bids are now all but in. The Yankees original offer was for 6-years, $144 million, or an AAV of $24 million. But on Thursday they added a seventh year to the deal, which would give Lee more protection under guaranteed money over time, but lower the AAV to $23 million annually.

According to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, the options given to Lee center on more money but less average annual value (AAV), as follows:

  • 5-years, $125 million (AAV - $25 million)
  • 6-years, $144 million (AAV - $24 million)
  • 7-years, $161 million (AAV - $23 million)

The Rangers jumped into the fray by increasing their offer late Thurs. night, although exactly how much and how many years are in the package are unclear. Rangers managing partner Chuck Greenberg mentioned the Carl Crawford deal with the Red Sox that is at 7-years as one of the reasons they increased their offer to Lee. It is unclear if Greenberg was eluding to the 7-year contract life in the Crawford deal, which also ties in with the years in the deal offered by the Yankees to Lee, or not.

If Lee were to accept any of the offers by the Yankees, he would, at the very least, match CC Sabathia's $23 million AAV in his deal reached in 2009. The highest AAV all-time, and for pitchers is for the 2007 1-year deal that the Yankees gave him for $28,000,022. The nearest AAV for an active pitcher to Sabathia's is Roy Halladay at $20 million.

The expectation is that Lee could make a decision on the offers by the Yankees and Rangers as early as Monday.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Breaking Down The Carl Crawford Contract with the Red Sox PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 11 December 2010 15:57

Boston Red Sox

The contract details of outfielder Carl Crawford’s  7-year, $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox has now surfaced. Here’s how it breaks down:

Crawford receives a $6 million signing bonus that will be paid in $1 million installments beginning after the 1st of the year on January 10 and then the first of each month from May through Sept.

Annual base salary - $14 million (2011), $19.5 million (2012), $20 million (2013), $20.25 million (2014), $20.5 million (2015), $20.75 million (2016), $21 million (2017).

He has a standard plate of award bonuses that include $50,000 for All Star selection, $75,000 for winning the ALCS MVP, $100,000 for Gold Glove for Silver Slugger, and $100,000 for World Series  MVP. If he is the AL MVO he gets an additional $200,000 ($125,000 for 2nd in voting, $100,000 for 3rd, $75,000 for 4th, and $50,000 for 5th).

A four-time American League All-Star (2004, 2007, 2009-10), Crawford earned his first career Louisville Silver Slugger Award and Rawlings Gold Glove in 2010.  The 29-year-old batted .307 (184-for-600) and set career highs with 19 home runs, 90 RBI, 110 runs scored, a .495 slugging percentage and an .851 OPS in 154 games with the Tampa Bay Rays.  A left-handed hitter, he paced the American League with 13 triples and also ranked among circuit leaders in batting average (9th), runs (4th), hits (8th), multi-hit games (8th, 52), total bases (8th, 297) and stolen bases (T-3rd, 47).  Crawford’s .359 clip (56-for-156) with runners in scoring position was the second-highest in the AL while his .332 average (132-for-397) vs. right-handers was fifth and his .313 mark (101-for-323) on the road placed eighth.  Additionally, he was the hardest qualifying Major Leaguer to double up, with an average of 300.0 at-bats per ground into double play (2 GIDP/600 AB).

Selected by Tampa Bay in the second round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, Crawford has hit .296 (1,480-for-4,992) with 215 doubles, 105 triples, 104 home runs, 592 RBI, 765 runs scored, 293 walks and 409 stolen bases in 1,235 career Major League games since 2002.  He is just the eighth player since 1900 to reach 100 home runs, 100 triples and 400 stolen bases, joining Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Lou Brock, Frankie Frisch, Kenny Lofton, Paul Monitor and Tim Raines, and is the youngest among that group to reach those marks.  He has been named the Rays Most Valuable Player three times, including this past season (also 2004 and 2006), and was the MVP of the 2009 All-Star Game.

Crawford is the fifth player all-time to pace the American League in triples at least four times (2004-06 and 2010), and only the third to be the outright leader as many times.  He leads all active players in triples and is second in stolen bases, behind only Juan Pierre (527).  Crawford has swiped at least 50 bases five times in his career, tied with Pierre for tops among active players, and has recorded seven seasons with 40 or more stolen bases, including a career-high 60 in 2009.  He has led the American League in steals on four occasions, accomplishing the feat in 2003-04 and 2006-07. 

With a .991 career fielding percentage as a left fielder (24 errors/2,620 total chances), Crawford leads all active players at that position.  He has played 1,165 career games in left (1,127 starts) and has also appeared in 54 games in center field (47 starts).  En route to winning a Gold Glove in 2010, he finished among AL left field leaders in games (3rd, 147), games started (2nd, 144), innings played (3rd, 1,260.1), total chances (1st, 315), putouts (2nd, 306), assists (T-4th, 7) and fielding percentage (3rd, .994).

Crawford has appeared in 21 postseason games, batting .253 (21-for-83) with three doubles, one triple, three home runs, nine RBI, 10 runs and eight stolen bases.  He hit .345 (10-for-29) in the seven-game 2008 American League Championship Series against Boston and tied an all-time postseason, single-game record with five hits in Game 4 at Fenway Park.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Details of Jayson Werth Contract with Washington Nationals Surface PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 11 December 2010 15:34

Jayson Werth will see his salary escalate
from $10 million in 2011 to $21 millon
from 2014-17

The contract details of outfielder Jayson Werth's 7-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals have now seen the light of day, and with it, how much salary the Nats will pay out each year is known. Here’s how it breaks down, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com (via Twitter):

Werth receives a $4 million signing bonus that will be paid in installments between January 1 of 2011 and Jan. 1 of 2012.

Annual base salary - $10 million (2011), $13 million (2012), $16 million (2013), $20 million (2014), $21 million (2015), $21 million (2016), $21 million (2017).

As of posting, there is no word as to whether there are any performance or award bonuses. Werth’s 2-year deal in Jan. of 2009 that avoided arbitration had a $1 million signing bonus, plus an extra $25,000 each for 500 and 600 plate appearances.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Carl Crawford Agrees to Sign with the Red Sox for 7-yrs, $142 Million PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Tetreault   
Thursday, 09 December 2010 10:04

The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham set the media room at the MLB Winter Meetings all a twitter with news from a source that stated Carl Crawford was staying in the AL East, but moving up north to Boston. The Red Sox and Crawford agreed yesterday on a seven year contract worth a reported $142 million.

A long-time nemesis of the Red Sox, Crawford becomes their likely starting left fielder, and joins a particularly crowded outfield. Fellow speedster Jacoby Ellsbury and youngster Ryan Kalish likely form the trio that will patrol Fenway Park’s outfield spaces long term. Kalish though will likely start 2010 in AAA Pawtucket, while veterans JD Drew and Mike Cameron play out the final year of their respective contracts.

The addition of Crawford comes on the heels of the completed trade and rumored contract Boston gave Adrian Gonzalez at the opening of the winter meetings. The pair are both in their late twenties and should be productive hitters and fielders for the majority of their contracts. Between the pair, Boston has committed over t$300 million for the 2011-2018 seasons.

Boston surrenders its first round draft selection to Tampa Bay. In addition the Rays will get an extra pick in the supplemental first round of the draft as compensation for the loss of Crawford, who had become the face of the Rays franchise. Tampa Bay has already lost first baseman Carlos Pena, catcher Dioner Navarro and reliever Joaquin Benoit to free agency. They have also dealt shortstop Jason Bartlett to San Diego in exchange for relief pitchers Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos.

More moves out of Tampa Bay are expected as the club has been shopping starter Matt Garza. Despite making the playoffs for the second time in the last three years, the Rays have needed to trim payroll. With seven free agents, each of whom declined the club’s offer of arbitration, now is their chance to load up on draft picks and plan for their next chance to contend.

Boston picks up and outfielder of considerable ability. While lacking power (his career best home run out put is 19) he makes up for it with speed on the bases. Crawford has led the American League in triples and stolen bases four times each. Last season he batted .307/.356/.495 in 657 plate appearances. For his career he has been a .296/.337/.444 hitter over nine seasons.


Joe TetreaultJoe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball

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Mariners Agree on 1-yr. $2.5 Million Deal with Jack Cust PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Tetreault   
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 14:09

Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets that the Mariners have aggred in principle to sign former Oakland DH Jack Cust to a one year contract that will pay him $2.5 million in 2011. The deal ends Cust’s four year stint in the other city on the other side of the bay but he stays in the AL West.

Cust fits the definition of a three true outcomes player. He walks, strikes out and hits home runs in bunches. Everything else is trivial to the slugging lefty.

Seattle’s historically poor offense in 2010 lacked players capable of getting on base and slugging the ball. Cust addresses both those needs, though his strikeouts will no doubt infuriate some fans, his talents should improve a pitiable offense.

Cust’s best season with the A’s came in 2007 when he put up a .256/.408/.504 batting line in 507 plate appearances. In 2008, he slipped some, but recorded a career best 33 home runs while also leading the American league in walks (111) and strikeouts (197). But his production tailed off to the point where he was designated for assignment to start the 2010 season. He recovered to hit .272/.395/.438 in 425 plate appearances after being recalled.


Joe TetreaultJoe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball

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