« And A-Rod Makes Nine | Main | He Ain't Nothing But A Hole Digger »

July 20, 2006

When Moose Is Loose

When it comes to Mike Mussina's contract, the Yankees have a team option, at $17 million, for 2007 - or there's a buyout at $1.5 million.

Mussina has been one of the ten best SP in the AL so far this season. He's been the Yankees ace this year. But, Moose will be 38-years-old next year - and I doubt the Yankees are going to pay him $17 million next season.

I'm sure the Yankees would want to pay Mike the $1.5 buyout and then offer him a 2007 contract in the range of $9 million - perhaps with an evergreen clause that could give him another year (in 2008) at that rate if he pitches at least 180 innings in 2007.

But, Mussina's agent is Arn Tellem. Yes, the man that Big Stein said is "no good."

So, let's say that Tellem (and perhaps the MLBPA) tells Mussina "You have to test Free Agency. You were one of the best pitchers in the league last year. You owe it to yourself and the other players."

And, then Moose allows some other offers to come in. And, before you know it, the Boston Red Sox start making a hard push for Mussina.

What should the Yankees do, in that case? Get into a bidding war with the Sox (over Mussina)? Or, make a fair offer and then let the chips fall where they may?

Personally, I would be very leery about giving Mussina big money in 2007 and/or offering more than a one-year deal. But, on the flip-side, without Mussina in 2007, who will be in the Yankees rotation next year?

Johnson, Wang, and.......? Pavano? (He says, as he rolls his eyes.)

Wright's probably not coming back. Basically, the Yankees rotation next year is wide open - and they're going to need bodies.

Mussina, Tellem, and the Red Sox are going to make this situation very interesting 4 months from now.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at July 20, 2006 02:30 PM

Comments

Why won't Wright be back? It will cost almost the same to buy his contract out as to bring him back.

And I wouldn't pay Mussina $17 million.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 03:05 PM

Gee, Steve, I'd rather you post on ARod but...whatever. Seriously, the Red Sox have another year left on Schill's deal, just gave Beckett 3 more @ $10MM per, have Lester, and will probably move Papelbon back into the rotation as soon as they think Hansen is ready to close. If they add an established starter over the off-season it'll probably be someone like Smoltz, Schmidt or Zito. Tellem will have two choices: Yankees or Baltimore. He'll have Moose quickly re-sign. That's my thinking on it.

Posted by: JohnnyC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 03:08 PM

Who's going to be out there on the FA market: Smoltz? Maddux? I can see a rotation of Unit, Wang, Wright (as a number 5 starter). Pavano I'll believe it when I actually see him on the mound. Hughes, they're being careful with, so maybe he has a cup of coffee next September.
Much as I don't think Moose is worth $17 mil (isn't Unit getting $16 mil next year?) I don't see a lot of other good options.

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 03:12 PM

If Cashman is the boy genius we all think he is, he'd be on the phone right now, working out an extension, maybe two years at $18.5 million (buyout plus the $17 million)... that way everyone gets their money and the Yanks aren't left with a giant sucking chest wound in the rotation.

Posted by: SMinDC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 03:16 PM

"If Cashman is the boy genius we all think he is, he'd be on the phone right now, working out an extension..." Steve's point is that Cashman can't do that because Tellem, Moose's agent, is a second-string Scott Boras. He's not going to negotiate what he thinks is a lesser deal when he believes he has the hammer in November.

Posted by: JohnnyC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 03:21 PM

I disagree about Wright.

I think, for $3 million, it is very likely that he does come back next season.

As for Mussina, assuming he continues through the season without being injured and with a comparable ERA to what he has now, I absolutely offer him a contract.

Probably 10 or so million for 2007, and then a team option for 2008...or maybe a vesting option that kicks in automatically if he reaches an innings mark (180?) in 2007.

Of course, if he hits free agency (and he might, though I think we can limit the teams to who he would consider to those in the Northeast and contending (Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Phillies?) then perhaps I give him 2 guaranteed years ($8 million per?) and a team option third.

Posted by: Jeteupthemiddle [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 03:42 PM

Anyone who gives Moose a 2-year guaranteed deal better be prepared to see him only make 25 starts next year. Watch.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 04:12 PM

As in you think he will milk it if it isn't his contract year?

I don't think that is very fair of Mussina at all.

Posted by: Jeteupthemiddle [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 04:14 PM

err...that should read TO mussina.

Posted by: Jeteupthemiddle [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 04:15 PM

Studies have shown that players tend to perform better in the final year of their contract.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 04:32 PM

Steve, you're out of your mind. Mussina battled elbow injuries the last two years. He wasn't loafing. Before that, he was a perennial 200-inning guy. Frankly, it's offensive that you would suggest Moose is "turning it on" for a contract. There's nothing in his history that would suggest he was that kind of selfish player. If you think this about him, then you don't know much about Mussina.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 05:21 PM

I'm not going to ascribe venality to Steve's comments. Moose has had injuries the past couple of years and he's in his mid 30s, and getting older. Still, it might be the best thing out there, to get 25 starts from Moose. I don't see lots of available starting pitching out there.

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 07:12 PM

Studies have shown that players tend to perform better in the final year of their contract.
=============
Any links?

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 10:50 PM

IIRC, this book had the most recent study on it:

http://www.netshrine.com/baseball_between_numbers_prospectus.html

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 11:26 PM

I would rather offer Mussina a reasonable amount, and save that $17 million for Zito.

Posted by: Mike [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 09:14 AM

You all are crazy if you don't think Mussina is worth all that money. The man is a machine. No one can touch his ERA or K to BB ratio. Peter Angelos was a fool to let him become a Yankee, and Cashman/Stein will be fools to let him go to another rival. Even if he's only worth $10 Mil, it's worth another $7 Mil to make sure he doesn't pitch against you!

-Disgruntled O's fan since Mussina departure

Posted by: GregOfMD [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 23, 2006 01:10 AM