Ken Rosenthal is the best baseball reporter working today. He is diligent and respected and gets it right more often than not. He does a thankless job well when he takes his turn as the sideline reporter for Fox and seems affable and self-aware on twitter.
He is also very good at spending other people’s money it seems. Within the last 48 hours, Kenny Rosenthal has committed a quarter billion dollars to Felix Hernandez and Buster Posey in the hypothetical world.
To his credit, it isn’t as though Rosenthal is creating figures out of thin air. When deciding what the Giants need to fork over to ensure Buster Posey becomes their Derek Jeter, Rosenthal uses some of that vaunted “math” stuff I’ve heard so much about. Well, sort of. Based on arbitration reward estimates for Posey’s three remaining arb seasons and four free agent years, Rosenthal lands on a seven-year, $120M imaginary deal for Posey.
Which, honestly, doesn’t sound so bad at all. We went down this path a few weeks ago, looking at Posey’s contract status and how expensive he will become in short order. The Giants are not in any rush but grabbing a tidy hometown discount before Dodger inflation ruins the game* might not be a bad idea. Buster Posey, you will remember, is very good.
* – does not actually ruin the game.
Rosenthal also touches on Posey’s marketability, not to mention his increasing value as Giants franchise totem and raison d’etre. The very same can be said about Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners.
Rosenthal tackled the Felix conundrum yesterday, wondering what it might take to lock up the Mariners ace again. King Felix signed a five-year extension ahead of the 2010 season, handing over his final two years of arbitration and three years of free agency in exchange for a cool $70 million.
With just two years remaining on that deal, the Mariners are mulling a contract extension for the King, something in the neighbourhood of $100 million for four years. Rosenthal thinks that is fair, if a little light, noting the two existing seasons at a shade under $40M total plus four more add up to a six-year deal worth $140 million. Or slightly less than Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels just signed for, though in slightly different situations.
Is Felix Hernandez a better pitcher than Greinke? You could search long and hard without finding anyone who believed otherwise. Felix is one of the best in the game and has been for some time. The Mariners, lost at sea as they appear, at least have their franchise anchor to lean on. They appear shut off to the idea of trading Felix, logical (yet ghoulish) as that move might be. If they won’t trade him, they better lock him up and get it over with.
As always, a story of risk and reward. The players recognize the game is currently flush with cash, biding their time and hitting the free agent market could result in additional millions. There are also obvious risks – 26-year old pitchers who already have 1600 big league innings under their belt and catchers with fractured fibulas in their rearview mirror are well aware of the dangers posed by waiting.