There is a good article in ESPN the Mag this month by Sam Miller. Kudos to my wife for getting me the subscription. It’s about how one team recruited the best bat and the biggest arm on the free agent market this winter and got them to sign.
We write this today, because of learning about the Pittsburgh Pirates missing on their offers for right handed pitcher Edwin Jackson who signed with the Washington Nationals on a one-year, $11 million dollar deal. Was there something more the Bucs could have done?
It’s a question I don’t think can be answered.
The Los Angeles Angels went after CJ Wlson immediately. Six weeks later a five-year deal work $77.5 million got it done. Six weeks of recruiting. One dinner at West Hollywood’s Soho House, that Justin Hollander, the teams new director of baseball operations had to scout because you don’t order, you give the chef guidelines and then a meal is prepared to your tastes.
A winter meeting dinner, a call from the team’s captain and famous recruiter Torii Hunter, pledges to support his charity, heavy involvement from manager Mike Scioscia, and the right geographic location along with the right GM.
Talk about some work, right?
For Pujols, it took 36 hours, two phone calls from the owner, no face to face meetings (which absolutely blows my mind), the big word that he wanted to hear–partner, and a commitment to his legacy. Oh yeh, and one hell of a 10 year, $240 million deal too.
The Pirates aren’t in this league. The Angels have a huge television contract and other things that helped get this done, but it was their pursuit of more than cash that landed them the players they wanted.
We can speculate that Rod Barajas, Erik Bedard, and Clint Barmes felt the same attraction to Pittsburgh in signing their free agent deals this winter. It would make for an interesting story to see just how difficult it was to land these players. We hear it all the time, players just don’t want to come to Pittsburgh.
I think there is truth in that statement. But we would certainly want to test it a bit more before we would just throw out an offer for $10 million for one year, or $30 million for three years. We think the Pirates were genuinely interested in Jackson, it’s nice to see that they were in the mix.
We actually liked Jackson on a one-year deal if we could have landed him. We trust that the Pirates simply don’t just put up an ‘internal valuation’ number on him, or any player, and send it out. It bugs us when the team appears so close that we’re curious as hell if they could have done a bit more to close the deal?
Maybe when that happens, players will think they are for real. Like C.J. found out.