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Signing "Outside the Box"

With the Rays year-to-year payroll moving slowly in these initial years of Stu's regime, the signings that we make this offseason have to stay in line with Andy's signings so far. Prominently cheap(less money early in the deal), Team-orientated(Team Options) and Smart(filling needs). So the Rays have to look for Free Agents, in a very dull-yet expensive market, that fit this criteria.

Looking through the list of Free Agents, I managed to come up with a name that'll be surprising to hear as a name that we should consider but after you hear my'll agree with me. He'd fit all 3 of the criteria above and also provide us a player with "big name" recognition.

Who is the mysterious masked man, you ask?


Nomar Garciaparra.

I figured that got your attention and now you're most likely laughing at me for mentioning his name.

Mentioning him most likely raises 2 questions.

  1. Isn't he a shortstop?
  2. Isn't he going to be an expensive sign?
The answer to both question, surprisingly, is no. Nomar, due to an injury to Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez, volunteered to move to 3B. He's also said in many reports on the web that he'd be willing to play 3B, in addition to playing SS. However, due to having major injuries throughout his career, no team is willing to splurge money on an aging, injury-plagued former all-star SS. He needs to look to a small-market team that his time, money and patience to deal with him converting to a new position and rekindle whatever chances at "superstardom" that he has left. He'd have added incentive whenever we play Boston, he could get revenge on the team that dumped him for a scrub like Orlando Cabrera.

How would the Rays make this deal beneficial to them?

Right now, the Rays have 2 things working against them:

  1. They have no players that give the team "big name" recognition(yet).
  2. They've yet to have anybody fill the 3B postion and give us production.
Signing Nomar would provide both things, we'd have a credible "big name" player that we didn't have to spend too much money on. Nomar is willing to play a position that we've been duped into bad signings/trades in the past with. Nomar would be a low/medium-risk,high-reward deal if you ask me.

Why won't we get duped in this deal?

Creative Negotiating.

If we can use the Rocco and CC deals as a blueprint on how to make good long-term deals, we could make an offer to Nomar that would be beneficial to both parties like the other 2 were.

First, we need to figure out a base deal that would attract Nomar into pondering a trade. Seeing that he was signed to a 1 yr, 8 Million dollar deal, we've got to get a nice base offer for Nomar.

I say: 4 years, 20-28 MIL for the base deal. That would be around 5-7 a year. He's aging and his numbers have, he can't really ask for 8 MIL a year.

Next, we're going to have to provide some incentives in this deal so that he'd be willing to even look at this offer without laughing at it. I say that we should institute some performance and plate appearance incentives. It'd give Nomar a reason to both produce and stay healthy. He does both, he gets more money.

I say: Stick with the 4 year deal, make the maximum amount to around 32-40 MIL. He'd get big money if he met his incentive clauses.

32 to 40 Million dollars??? How will we afford that?

First off... If we were to trade Huff, Baez and Lugo, that would knock up to 15 million(if we traded all 3) off of our current payroll, which is currently 5-8 Million dollars more than the current one. 20-23 Million Maximum to spend on Free Agents. A deal for Nomar would be 1/4th-to-1/3rd of that. With the trading of those 3, we'd also have less "holes" to fill and we could spend more money on Free Agents...if we had to.

Next, we could structure the deal where it was backloaded. We'd spend the least amount of money in our first year, than we'd spend the most money in the 2nd and 4th years of the deal. We've made worse deals where we've deferred money, why not make another if the risk is worth the reward. By signing a free agent like Nomar, we'd get instant "big name" recognition. That'd attract fans, which would increase attendence and sales revenue. If we managed to backload his contract, the newfound revenue we would get would pay for a majority of his deal. Also, backloading his deal would help the team if he produced enough to garner trade consideration. If we had his salary-per-year increase gradually, we could trade him if we needed to and not have to spend too much in the process. We'd save money and possibly get players back in the deal, due to him recovering his superstardom.

What would the benefits of signing Nomar?

  1. A Thirdbaseman, who could be the leader of our young and inexperienced infield.
  2. A Mentor, who could teach Upton that versatility(possible move to 3B) could make him more valuable than he is now. Also, he could teach Upton tricks-of-the-trade that would decrease his astronomical error totals.
  3. A "Big Name", who could bring in other Free Agents who aren't sure if the Rays are for real. The Rays are willing to give Nomar a 2nd chance,  other teams will think that the Rays Front Office has changed for the better.
Hopefully, my facts and figures have sold you on why we should take this risk in the infancy of this new regime.