Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pending Options

Let's have a look at the players who still have options pending for the 2008 season and see what we think of them:

First Base
Kevin Millar, Baltimore Orioles
2008 Age: 36
2008 Option: $2.75 million (guaranteed with 475 PAs in '07)
Millar's option has already vested, as he's hit 252/363/421 this year. It's not so hot for a first baseman, but the Orioles are desperate, and $2.75 million isn't bad for that kind of offense, even if it's not up to par for the position.
Second Base
Mark Ellis, Oakland Athletics
2008 Age: 31
2008 Option: $5 mil. club option
Ellis is hitting 274/336/438 this year and is still one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball. What the A's do here depends on how far they go in their quest to rebuild. If they're really going all scorched-earth on us, then they could pick up Ellis's option and trade him. They'd probably get a decent return, too, considering the free agent class of 2Bs.
Marcus Giles, San Diego Padres
2008 Age: 30
2008 Option: $4 mil. club option

Giles has had a dreadful year in San Diego (228/302/318), which makes John Scuerholz look really smart (and me look like a doofus). My guess is that the Padres decline.
Jeff Kent, Los Angeles Dodgers
2008 Age: 40
2008 Option: $9 mil. club option ($500k buyout)
Given Ned Colletti's bizarre fetish for older players, I think he'll pick up Kent's option, even though he's no kind of second baseman anymore, and the Dodgers have a gajillion first baseman-types.
Cesar Izturis, Pittsburgh Pirates
2008 Age: 28
2008 Option: $5.45 mil. club option
Only if they're really f***ing stupid.
Juan Uribe, Chicago White Sox
2008 Age: 29
2008 Option: $5 mil. club option
Amazingly enough, through all his trials Uribe has maintained strong defense at shortstop. The same cannot be said of his offense (229/282/396). He's not worth $5 mil to a club that isn't going to contend. But the re-signing of Jermaine Dye means that the White Sox might think that they will contend. They're just fooling themselves, but that may not stop them from signing Uribe anyways.
Third Base
Corey Koskie, Milwaukee Brewers
2008 Age: 36
2008 Option: $6.5 mil. club option
Koskie is injured and isn't going to be anybody's starting third baseman anytime soon. He could be a useful bat off the bench, but he's not worth $6.5 mil. Besides, you may have heard something about the Brewers' new third baseman.
Bobby Abreu, New York Yankees
2008 Age: 34
2008 Option: $16 mil. club option
With the rise of Melky Cabrera, I seriously doubt that the Yankees will pay that much money to keep Abreu, especially if they're mortgaging the Stadium to pay A-Rod. Abreu is still quite valuable, but not $16 mil. worth, and not to a team that already has three good outfielders and a full-time DH.
Moises Alou, New York Mets
2008 Age: 41
2008 Option: $7.5 mil. club option ($1 mil. buyout)
I think more teams are going to be signing contracts like this over the next few years after the success of the deals given to Alou, Frank Thomas, Andy Pettitte, and others; one-year deals with an option and/or incentives. They allow a team that doesn't want to commit $50 million to get a good (or great) player on a short-term rental. It's also great for a player like Alou who is still quite good (343/394/535 in '07) but is also quite old (77 games played). The Alou signing was one of the best deals of the past offseason, but the Mets should quite while they're ahead and decline the option. Even a player as good as Alou isn't worth $7.5 million for half a season (or possibly less).
Adam Dunn, Cincinnati Reds
2008 Age: 28
2008 Option: $13 mil. club option
Although I've gone on record (or rather been forced on the record) about Dunn's likely decline after age 30, I think a one-year, $13 million deal is a bargain for him. The only question is whether the Reds really need to spend that much.
The Reds' outfield next year will be a mix of Dunn, Josh Hamilton, Ryan Freel, Ken Griffey, Norris Hopper and super-prospect Jay Bruce. At first base will be Scott Hatteberg and/or prospect Joey Votto. The unfortunate truth is that the Reds don't need Dunn, especially at that price. That's not to say that they shouldn't keep him, but the Reds should look at what else they could spend that money on (pitching, although I don't trust Wayne Krivsky to spend money on pitchers anymore). They also need to think about how close they are to contending next year. They've got a decent shot, but it's far more important to bring along top-notch hitting prospects Bruce and Votto. With Bruce taking over for Dunn, that would leave Hamilton and Griffey in the outfield with plenty of backups when (yes, when) Griffey gets injured.
If I were the Reds, I'd pick up Dunn's option absolutely; but then I'd agressively shop him around the league. And if I were a team like the Yankees, I'd take a close look at getting a player like Dunn to fill a hole at first base on a short-term loan.
Darin Erstad, Chicago White Sox
2008 Age: 34
2008 Option: $3.5 mil. club option
The Sox already have two or three useless outfielders; they don't need to spend money to keep another one around.
Shawn Green, New York Mets
2008 Age: 35
2008 Option: $10 mil. club option
Yeah, right. Green has admittedly done better in New York than I expected, merely being an average-hitting right fielder. But he's not worth $10 mil., especially when Lastings Milledge is sitting on the bench.
Geoff Jenkins, Milwaukee Brewers
2008 Age: 33
2008 Option: $9 mil club option
I may be wrong, but I seem to remember the Brewers already pretty much guaranteeing that they won't pick up Jenkins' option. And neither should they, with plenty of homegrown replacements. It's always tough to say goodbye to a former face of the franchise, but that often happens when a team gets better and outgrows mediocrity. But Jenkins is still valuable and could be a steal for some team willing to use him as a rotating outfielder type.
Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers
2008 Age: 36
2008 Option: $13 mil. club option
There's no way that Pudge Rodriguez is worth 13 million dollars. He just can't really hit anymore (276/290/418). But that doesn't mean that the Tigers won't pay him anyhow just to keep up appearances. Yes, he's still a tough player to replace, but a team right on the cusp like Detroit has many better ways to spend $13 mil.
Javier Valentin, Cincinnati Reds
2008 Age: 32
2008 Option: $1.3 mil. club option
Valentin isn't much on defense, but he is a good hitter for a catcher. Of course, the Reds have overexposed him by making him their top pinch-hitter, but then they did the same thing to Jacob Cruz a couple years ago (remember him? Didn't think so) before his alleged brilliance was exposed as just a trick of sample sizes.
That said, you could do worse with that kind of money than get a decent-hitting catcher. Especially when your
other option is (shudder) David Ross.
Starting Pitchers
Kris Benson, Baltimore Orioles
2008 Age: 33
2008 Option: $7.5 million club option ($500k buyout)
Remember him? Considering that he's missed the entire 2007 season due to injuries, I'm guessing that the O's will pass on this one.
Paul Byrd, Cleveland Indians
2008 Age: 37
2008 Option: $8 mil. club option ($250k buyout)
Paul Byrd isn't worth $8 million, the club may end up paying him simply due to the lack of viable alternatives. The Indians are going to need a lot of help bolstering the back end of their rotation next year, and I doubt they'd worry a lot about overpaying a potentially useful pitcher by a million or two. The problem is that Byrd, with his stuff (or lack thereof) is always on the verge of becoming a Triple-A quality pitcher. It all depends on how willing the Indians are to gamble with him.
Odalis Perez, Kansas City Royals
2008 Age: 31
2008 Option: $9 mil. club option
Chortle, Chortle.
Joel Pineiro, St. Louis Cardinals
2008 Age: 29
2008 Option: no details available
Pineiro's made 9 starts for the Cardinals, posting a 4.50 ERA in 50 IP with an 8:30 BB:K ratio. Considering the other candidates for the St. Louis rotation, I'd pick up the option if it's reasonable.
Julian Tavarez, Boston Red Sox
2008 Age: 35
2008 Option: $3.85 mil. club option
The Red Sox can easily afford to pay $4 mil. to a swing starter/long reliever, especially considering Curt Schilling's age and inconsistency.
Randy Wolf, Los Angeles Dodgers
2008 Age: 31
2008 Option: $9 mil. club option ($500k buyout)
Wolf threw 102.2 IP this year (4.73 ERA) before getting injured. My guess is the Dodgers cut their losses and buy out his option; they can replace him.
Relief Pitchers
Scott Eyre, Chicago Cubs
2008 Age: 36
2008 Option: $3.8 mil. player option
Eyre may be able to get more than $3.8 mil. on the open market, but at his age, coming of a season with a 4.41 ERA I doubt it. He should exercise his option.
Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres
2008 Age: 40
2008 Option: $7.5 million option (vests with 45 GF in '05 or 90 GF in '06-'07)
Hoffman's option has vested, but I'd guess that the Padres would have brought him back anyhow.
Jason Isringhausen, St. Louis Cardinals
2008 Age: 35
2008 Option: $8 mil. club option
Jason Isringhausen is an amazingly overrated closer, and he's not worth $8 million. That being said, you have to consider what you're options are if you do decline his option. My take is that the Cards probably won't contend in 2008 and even so shouldn't pay $8 mil. to a limited 35-year-old closer. But they probably will.
Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins
2008 Age: 33
2008 Option: $6 mil. option
Nathan is still one of the greatest closers in the game, so $6 mil. isn't much money. The main question is whether the Twins want to keep him around for one year (a year in which they aren't likely to contend) or trade him and plan for the future. It would be a far-reaching move to trade him, and I'm sure they'd find several takers. But so long as they're trying to negotiate an extension with Johan Santana, they're not going to raise the white flag on the immediate future. Nathan will probably stay.
Back later with a look at free agents.
All info on contracts is from the invaluable Cot's Baseball Contracts.

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