Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Saturday, February 28, 2004
Done Deal II
It appears the Cubs have signed Derrek Lee to a three year deal. More to come when specifics are available, but with the way things have been going of late, I'll be shocked if I don't like this deal. Jim Hendry is having one of, if not the best offseason ever for a Cubs GM.
Lee's contract will pay him $22.5 million over three years. He'll receive $5.5 million this year, $7 million in 2005, $8 million in 2006 plus a $2 million signing bonus.
I could cry, this is so good. It's the perfect length, and the money is fair for everyone. Again, the Cubs gain some flexibility up front by tearing up the $6.9M deal that was the placeholder for this year. You know what else I like about this?
I don't mean to keep picking on the Astros, but...
Those are the PECOTA projections for both players next season. The difference between the first four columns is small, but those last four are what should keep Astros fans up at night. Bagwell has been a fine player, but the Earth keeps revolving around that pesky Sun, and as he keeps getting older, his contract grows along with his age. Houston will be paying twice as much money for a player who is likely to produce at a lesser rate for all three years.
I'll delve deeper in a few weeks when I look at the Astros for the Know Your Enemy series, but this year looks more and more like a last gasp before the weight of deferred money crushes the franchise. The Astros have $32.2M committed for next season, which buys them the services of exactly three players - Brad Ausmus, Jeff Bagwell, and Andy Pettite - as well as $42.5M for 2006, which nets them the same, minus the catcher. The rest of the cash is deferred money, and while some clubs can absorb that kind of hit, the Astros payroll isn't likely to get over $70M in 2004, and next year, Roy Oswalt will be eligible for arbitration again, while Lance Berkman, Octavio Dotel, and Wade Miller can file as free agents (if someone has information to the contrary on these supposed free agents, let me know, as I'm just extrapolating based on service time). It's conceivable that all seven players listed above could make salaries that approach the 2004 payroll next year, and for an organization that has already traded players due to financial constraints, that has to be worrisome.
The Cubs have an advantage in cash that won't go away, but in the past the Astros have overcome it by being that much smarter. It appears more and more that the acuity gap is closing, and if Houston loses that edge, they may be in for some long seasons.
Many thanks to the extremely useful Dugout Dollars site, where all the salary information was gleaned.