February 13, 2012 by Matt Musico
With Spring Training less than a week away for a lot of MLB organizations, there was a flurry of deals that happened last week as teams tried their best to avoid arbitration with their young superstars. There were also some front office executives locked up for the long haul. Some of my highlights from last week are:
Oakland Athletics extend GM Beane to 2019.
Lew Wolff, owner of the Oakland Athletics, put faith in his front office last week by extending the contracts team president Michael Crowley and GM Billy Beane through the 2019 season. With these two deals in place, the team can continue their pursuit of moving out of the Oakland Coliseum into an updated venue in San Jose so they will be able to compete with big market teams and not let go of their young talent, such as what they did this winter with Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Andrew Bailey. I think that keeping Beane locked up is a good move for the A’s; I’ve heard many people joke because the organization extends their GM and President, but they don’t have enough money to field a team. ESPN’s Buster Olney labeled Beane as one of the best general managers in the league, but far from the genius that he was considered in the early 2000s when he was revolutionizing player evaluation and statistic analysis. How is it fair to evaluate the team’s performance if Beane has to tear apart his roster every couple of years because he can’t afford them anymore? I hope MLB approves the move (there is no reason not to) so this organization can start making steps forward, financially speaking.
Indians agree to one-year deal with Cabrera.
Cleveland was able to avoid their first arbitration hearing since 1991 last week when they agreed to terms with Asdrubal Cabrera on a one-year/ $4.55 million deal, just about in the middle of what both sides were offering one another. There is no question that Cabrera was the most valuable player on the Indians roster in 2011; he hit .273 with 25 home runs and 92 RBI. He led the club in hits, runs, and stolen bases, while setting a franchise record for home runs by a shortstop in a season. The two sides talked about a long-term deal for the 26-year-old shortstop, but the talks didn’t progress. Cabrera becomes a free agent after the 2013 season, and if the Indians are smart, they will try as hard as they can to lock him up long-term before he hits the open market and his value skyrockets. He is viewed as a cornerstone player and one that a team can build around, so let’s hope they can actually do it.
Rangers Avoid Arbitration with Andrus and Cruz.
The Texas Rangers were able to lock up some of their core young talent through the rest of their arbitration years last week; the day before he was going to have his time in front of the arbitrator, the organization agreed to a three-year/$14.4 million contract. A day after that deal was done, focus shifted to their slugging, 31-year-old outfielder, Nelson Cruz, who agreed to a two-year/$16 million deal. These are both good deals for both sides because after reaching two consecutive World Series, the core of this Rangers team is good enough to have sustained success. Locking up these players for the near future keeps their offense and defense tight as they upgraded their starting rotation and bullpen. The Angels made a big splash this winter, but don’t count out the Rangers for October just yet.
Mariners report to camp.
We finally received our first dosage of baseball season making its triumphant return with the Seattle Mariners holding their first workouts for pitchers and catchers yesterday. Since they are kicking off the 2012 season against the Athletics in Japan on March 28th, MLB gave both of these teams the option to start camp a week earlier than other teams if they wished to; the Mariners took the league up on the offer, the Athletics decided to report on February 19th instead. Either way, even though only one team has reported to Spring Training so far, it is officially baseball season! Love is in the air with Valentine’s Day tomorrow and baseball comes back to us. Coincidence? Absolutely not!