The Years are Always The Thing

It seems as though John McDonald, the Prime Minister of Defense, broke Canada’s heart. The most special of specialized players signed a two-year extension with the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday, as Parkes lovingly detailed. Jays fans and hardcore Johnny Mac acolytes (raises hand) shouldn’t feel slighted.

No matter how often Jays fans heard Alex Anthopoulos and even the PMoD himself swear up and down that a return was imminent, McDonald did what just about every ballplayer does when given the chance – took the years.

When Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez declined his $16 million dollar option for 2012, it was met with a surprising lack of shock. How could he turn down $16 million bucks for next season? As a free agent, he couldn’t possibly expect to equal that kind of pay day, could he?

Coming off a strong season in which he posted a .373 wOBA and clouted 26 home runs, Ramirez is still 33 years-old with a near-replacement level season large in the rearview mirror. As a free agent, the total value of his contact may not equal the $16 million he turned down for next year.

Even at a lower average annual value, the years are the thing. As a type-B free agent, Ramirez doesn’t cost prospective teams a draft pick. This designation could free him up to sign a more lucrative deal as the pool for potential signing teams increases.

There is significant risk in Ramirez turning down this large pile of guaranteed money. Using MLB Trade Rumors transaction tracker we learn that very few players with Type B designation and arbitration offers in hand sign long-term deals worth more than the money A-Ram turned down.

Among position players, only Mike Cameron signed for anything close when he inked a two-year, $15.5 million dollar deal with the Red Sox after the 2009 season. Cameron was hot on the heels of two consecutive 4+ WAR seasons, not to mention a better health track record than the Cubs third baseman.

Ramirez and his representation believe he can get a greater return than $16 million. History suggests it might not be that easy. Are the guaranteed years make the whole bitter pill go down that much easier? Does a player with more than $100 million in career earnings sweat the differences between sixteen mill for one season versus a little less for two?

From the annual overtures of David Ortiz to John McDonald quickly snapping up the first multi-year deal pushed under his nose, the appeal of long-term security is strong. There is obviously something to be said for that guaranteed cheque, avoiding the humiliating toil of minor league contracts and press packets sent to the various baseball operations departments around the league.

Might Aramis Ramirez come to regret this decision? From a economic point-of-view, he may. But the security and ability to pick his next home and choose an ideal situation trumps a few added bucks and another year fighting the free agent fight.