Even if you aren't that pessimistic, his value can't go anywhere but down. We should be trading players at their peak value, not re-signing them. If you look at all the evidence, not just the cherry-picked short-term, you have a guy who is:
- average offensively in his very best year (OMG gives you the fancy stats),
- not quite average defensively,
- injury prone, and
- 30 years old, in other words past the age that most guys start getting worse.
Orlando Cabrera (34)The argument in favor of this deal is that we have no other good options. We have no one in the system who can move up and fill in (paging Maicer Izturis! Brendan Harris!), and although there are a lot of shortstops on this list, who among them would you rather have over Guzman? Cabrera, yes. Furcal? Big injury risk. Renteria? Not the 2008 version, that's for sure. But still, when "desperation" is your explanation for a deal, you know you don't have a very well run organization.
David Eckstein (34)
Adam Everett (32)
Rafael Furcal (31)
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Cesar Izturis (29)
Felipe Lopez (29)
Edgar Renteria (33) - club option for '09
Juan Uribe (30)
Omar Vizquel (42) - club option for '09
But it's not a senseless argument. I just feel like there's noting to lose by waiting a month for his performance to decline, and we probably could have saved a million or two, or better yet gotten him to take a 1-year deal.
Also, you have to factor in that we would have almost surely gotten a draft pick if we had let him walk in free agency, which is key to rebuilding. Stockpiling that youth is what's going to get us to that First Great Nationals Team.
So is this a bad move? It's certainly not a good move. The nicest thing you could say is that it's the least bad choice you could make out of a lot of bad options. The mistake was evacuating all our young middle infielders and failing to develop anyone in the meantime.
One thing though: this contract is probably a tad high, but it's not crazy. We sure didn't get any "gratitude discount," but this isn't "financial insanity" as one Nationals Journal commenter said. Let's look at the free agents who signed the most comparable deals this past off-season:
- Tom Glavine: 1 year, $8m
- Eric Gagne: 1 year, $10m
- Kenny Rogers: 1 year, $8m
- Keith Foulke: 1 year, $7m
- Mike Cameron: 1 year, $7m
- Geoff Jenkins: 2 years, $13m
For all the people who are screaming for higher payroll, you're asking for more guys like this--expensive, high risk, declining vets. Remember, we got the most expensive catcher on the market last year--who's that going? There are precious few real difference-makers out there on the free agent market, and they command long-term deals, so that we'll be saddled with their worst, old years when we (god willing) are actually starting to contend. I'm not saying it never makes sense to spend on free agents, but there are a lot of people who talk about it as if there's a championship out there with a price tag on it, and there isn't.