Not everything that happens around baseball relates back to the Padres, but several happenings around the majors this week may have a potential impact on what happens to members of the Padres going forward, this year and beyond. Today, I’ll focus of 3 different news pieces, specifically.
Ryan Braun Accepts Suspension for Remainder of Season
If I were writing a headline for what happened with Ryan Braun this week (oh hey, I just did!), my headline would definitely include a caveat noting that a deal was made. Stating that Ryan Braun was suspended by Major League Baseball, but not that a deal was made between Ryan Braun and MLB that Braun would sit for 65 games is not telling the whole story.
Braun, who is currently injured, could have potentially been suspended for 100 games next year if he had chose to keep fighting. By accepting a 65 game suspension, he doesn’t lose time in a meaningful season for his team, which is out of contention, and he loses less money than he would have if he had received the same suspension next year when his pay increases. This is, to be sure, a win for MLB, but it’s also not a great loss for Braun, other than to his reputation.
Yasmani Grandal is in a similar situation as Braun, as he is also injured and the Padres, like the Brewers, are out of contention and building for 2014. However, the key difference with Grandal is that he was already suspended for 50 games for testing positive for PEDs. He and Bartolo Colon, both named in leaked Biogenesis documents, have an argument that they have already been punished for the crimes that they are being accused of, and another suspension would be unjust double jeopardy.
What should Grandal do? Should he cut a deal and accept losing more money (of which he does not have nearly as much as someone like Braun) in place of losing time on the field, or should he fight for the idea that he’s already been punished? I’m of the opinion that the answer depends on how it looks like it is going to end. If it looks like he’s losing the fight, he should probably concede. As long as it looks like he’s winning the fight, he should probably keep going.
There are other things to consider as well, like can he afford to lose at least another $225k (50 games worth of his $750k salary) after already having lost that much earlier this year? Surviving on $300k this year would be easy for me, mostly because that would be a huge upgrade for me, but I also don’t have the financial obligations that Grandal has. I don’t know if serving two suspensions in one season is a hit he is able to take while still paying all his bills.
Then there’s Everth Cabrera, who has never tested positive but was named in the Biogenesis reports. His situation and whether he should accept a suspension is even less clear. For one, this is his first All-Star season after his first year of arbitration eligibility, and he needs to be maximizing his stats in order to use them in an arbitration argument this offseason. That means he needs to play as much as he can this year to increase his counting stats.
Secondly, there’s been some talk that Everth might actually see his name cleared and receive no suspension. Obviously, if that’s possible, he and all Padres fans would prefer that. It’s hard to say how likely it is though. What should Everth do? If he can’t beat it, he should make a deal that includes a smaller suspension at the end of the season. If Everth is suspended for 25 games in September after rosters expand, that would likely be his best-case scenario that also involves him being suspended.
Brewers trade Francisco Rodriguez to Orioles
As the Padres have transitioned from potential trade deadline buyers last month to the firm position of sellers now, all eyes seem to be on the bullpen. Huston Street, Luke Gregerson, Dale Thayer, and Joe Thatcher are all said to be drawing heavy interest from contenders around the league. Once again making news, the Brewers this week traded late-inning reliever Francisco Rodriguez to the Orioles for one of the Orioles’ top prospects, infielder Nicky Delmonico.
The Rodriguez trade excited a lot of Padres fans and media members, who have seen teams annually overpay for relief pitching at the deadline and would like to see the Padres get in on some of that action. There are some mitigating factors at play here, however, that would suggest that the trade wasn’t as lopsided as it appears.
Yes, Delmonico is one of the Orioles’ top prospects, ranking as high as 4th on popular preseason organizational rankings. However, that doesn’t mean he’s a great prospect. He received a B- grade from John Sickels this past offseason, which would have placed him somewhere between 8th and 14th on his list of the Padres top 20 prospects. Keith Law noted in his (ESPN insider only) trade analysis that Delmonico “is probably a top-200 prospect in the minors right now, though not a top-100 guy.” Delmonico is still looking for a position he excels at after moving from 2B to 1B to 3B. He’s also had issues staying on the field, mostly due to a series of small injuries.
What can the Padres expect to receive for their relievers? Not as much as the Orioles did for Rodriguez. If Delmonico is certainly good prospect but no sure thing, the Padres will be looking at getting some middling to fringy prospects in return for most of their crop of relievers, even in an overpay. The Padres need a controllable starter, and might look for one perhaps in return for a package of relievers and prospects, but how many contenders have those guys available this year? That’s not to say the Padres should hold on to all or any of these guys, as they should be looking to at least cut bait on Street, but only Gregerson has enough value to get anything really interesting.
Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia Agree on 7 Year, $100 Million Extension
Finally, this week the Boston Red Sox and 2008 AL MVP Dustin Pedroia agreed on an extension through 2021, adding 7 years to his current deal, worth a reported $100 million. While Pedroia is not a 3rd baseman, his contract could have some impact on what Chase Headley might receive in either an extension this offseason or on the free agent market after the 2014 season.
First, let’s draw some comparisons between the two players. Pedroia is about 9 months older than Headley, and has been in the league for two years longer. Pedroia is in the 5th year of a 6 year contract, and would have hit the free agent market with Headley had he not been extended. Pedroia is the better player between the two, accomplishing more while also providing more consistency. Pedroia has two 6+ fWAR seasons to Headley’s 1, and has not played a full season in which he earned less than 3 fWAR. He’s on pace for a likely 5 fWAR season this year.
Headley has had a topsy-turvy career, both offensively and defensively. Yes, he was worth over 7 fWAR last year, but only 2.3 fWAR in 2011, and is on pace to maybe be a 4 fWAR player this season. Pedroia is the much safer bet between the two. You don’t need to look only at fWAR to come to that conclusion, I just happen to like the simplification it provides.
Pedroia’s extension is worth an average annual value (AAV) of only $14 million. For at least the first few years of the deal, that’s a steal for the Red Sox. If 1 win above replacement is worth $5 million on the free agent market, Pedroia has been worth almost $24 million a year over his career. When I heard about the $100 million extension, I just assumed it was over 5 years rather than 7.
The big risk for the Red Sox is the length of the deal, as Pedroia will be 38 when it ends, and while he’s stayed remarkably healthy thus far in his career, second basemen tend to age quickly toward the end of their careers. That risk is mitigated by the fact that they are getting a bargain right now, so if they’re overpaying later, they’ll likely still get very good value over the length of the contract, not to mention the value they’ve already gotten over his first 7 years.
What does it mean for Chase Headley? It hurts his chances of getting the same kind of deal. His play this season has also hurt those chances, but having a clearly superior player take the kind of deal in an extension that he was likely looking for doesn’t help either. Chase is having a good July, hitting .294/.395/.441 this month, but he’s still stuck at 7 total home runs for the year and has not shown himself at all to be the type of hitter he was in the 2nd half of last season. If he wants a Pedroia-like deal, it’s not likely to come this offseason from the Padres.
I was supposed to be at the dentist this afternoon. Instead I wrote this. My blog partner left San Diego for Seattle this morning. These are things that happened. The Vocal Minority will return on Monday. Follow me on Twitter @The_NV.