Transaction Analysis 1/26/05
The Rays thus far this week have made one concrete re-signing, and one near-signing. Because I am not sure if I will be able to make it to the computer for awhile, let me go through the resigning of Casey Fossum and the signing of Russ Branyan, which, while not yet completed, is very likely to in the near future. And if the deal falls apart? Well, you know of my opinion on Russ Branyan.
The Move-The Devil Rays re-signed LHP Casey Fossum
The Terms-Two years, $4.2 million
The Details-The Devil Rays and LHP Casey Fossum reached agreement on a two year, $4.2 million deal earlier this week to avoid arbitration. Fossum can earn more money on top of the deal by reaching certain performance benchmarks, and the team has a club option for the 2008 season, worth $3 million, and a $300,000 buyout. Fossum will earn $2 million this season and $2.2 next year, and will donate $125,000 to the Rays' charitable trust. The deal essentially reaches a meidum between arbitration figures exchanged last week, with Fossum requesting $2.375 million and the Rays offering $1.7 million. Fossum was set to go to arbitration with the Rays, and either way would have gotten a significant pay raise from the $950,000 he earned last season.
The Opinion-As expected, Fossum was told that he will start the 2006 season in the Devil Rays' starting rotation. I like this deal a lot. The Rays could have been petty and taken this small difference to arbitration, but the two sides acted like adults and struck a compromise. The Rays were able to lock up a solid, back of the rotation starter for a decent price in this market. Last season Fossum had his best performance in three years, going 8-12 with a 4.92 ERA. Though his 1.41 WHIP was a little high, and he had that nagging problem with hitting batters, he had an okay strikeout rate, and for a team like the Rays, those numbers are needed. Though Fossum appeared to tire towards the end of the season, and many Rays fans felt a move to the bullpen would be best, he is needed a lot in the rotation, and can be a solid guy to throw out every fifth day. My read: Decent pitcher, below market price. I like the move and look forward to another 2-3 years of Mr. Fossum.
The Move-The Rays are close to signing INF Russell Branyan to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
The Terms-The deal is not completed yet, although most minor league contracts give the signee a salary figure near the league low.
The Details-Not many, thus far. Since the deal has not been finished, there is no figure to report, although we know it will be a minor league contract with a spring training invite. That means that this is a low risk move that lets Branyan compete for a roster spot in the spring, and if he makes the cut, he will stay on the roster for a low salary, and if he doesn't he can either be cut, or outrighted to a minor league affiliate. Also, he may refuse to report to the minors and ask for his release, which often happens with veteran players who don't make the final roster. Branyan will probably earn less than the $800,000 last season he earned with Milwaukee.
The Opinion-Although salary figures are not yet complete, I like this move. I=If he is signed, it will not be for a lot of money, and the Rays get themselves a power hitter who, while having his strikeout problems, can mash the ball. He is similar to Eric Munson, although he is a more extreme power hitter. Munson, who averages a homer every 15.7 at bats, has previously played for Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Milwaukee, and was cut lose from the Brewers after they acquired Corey Koskie from the Blue Jays. Branyan has an impressive career OPS of .807, and a career SLG% of .480, but the strikeouts is what dooms him, and is the reason his career average is only .232. But overall, I like this move. We have very little to lose, and we get an awesome power bat if he makes the final roster. We lose little if he is cut, and gain a lot if he makes the cut? What is there to lose?
Here's wishing a happy birthday to former Devil Rays Kenny Kelly and Antonio Perez. Kelly, 28, languished around the Rays' minor league system for a few years, and recently broke into the majors again with the Reds and Nationals last year. Perez, 26, was a throw-in from Seattle in the Lou Pinella trade, played briefly in 2003 for the Rays, and has played the last two season with Los Angeles, whom he was traded to for a player that didn't even play the position he was supposed to. After a lackluster 2004, he had a decent 2005, and here's hoping Perez makes former GM Chuck LaMar look ever the dumber by continuing his strong performance in 2006.
So what do you think of the near-signing of Russell Branyan? Since Fossum was going to come back one way or another, we'll skip that, and ask for you opinion on Branyan. Good, bad, don't care? Voice your opinion in our poll by clicking the 'Entry Link' button below the post, and add a comment if you like to sound off about this article, and the two additions.
What do you think of the Russell Branyan signing?
This poll is closed
I like it
It's an okay move
I don't like it
I don't care, it's a minor league contract