The White Sox made the longest spring training ever a little bit more exciting this weekend; first, naming Chris Getz their starting second baseman (leadoff hitter to follow), then signing Gavin Floyd to a 4-year extension.
Along with the news that Floyd had signed an extension came word that John Danks had (rightfully) turned down a similar offer, and Carlos Quentin had also turned down an extension. All three players have one year left before reaching arbitration eligibility. So Floyd's extension doesn't buy out any of his free agent years -- though it does contain a $9.5MM option for what would be his first year of free-agent-eligibility -- and the Sox don't have to be in any hurry to sign the other two.
I say that Danks rightfully turned down a similar extension because he's clearly a better pitcher than Floyd, and his closest comp, Boston's Jon Lester, just signed a 5/$30MM extension. From the Sox perspective, Danks turning them down isn't a big deal. They control his rights until 2012, and if they wanted to buy out any years of free-agency, to make a truly below-market deal, they would have had to offer at least 5 years.
Knowing how the Sox feel about long-term contracts to pitchers, it's best for the Sox to take a wait-and-see approach with Danks with the hopes that when he does sign on the dotted line -- and he will sign an extension eventually -- that they'll get a significant discount on a year or two a free-agency.
I also would have taken a wait-and-see approach with Quentin. We haven't done a community projection for him yet, but I expect him to have a slow first half coming off wrist surgery. If Quentin's merely productive this year, not MVP worthy, they might be able to lock him up at a later date for a well-below-market contract while buying out multiple years of free agency. So there's a bit of silver lining to both of those decisions.
Is Floyd Worth it?
Floyd's extension is remarkably similar to the one the Twins gave Scott Baker earlier this month and the one the Sox gave Buehrle prior to the '04 season.
|Pre arb||Arb 1||Arb 2||Arb 3||Option|
Buehrle was a better pitcher than Floyd at the time of his extension -- although he was coming off of a down year -- but starting pitching salaries had yet to enter the ridiculous territory they currently reside. Baker, however, is a much more interesting comparison. He's also a better pitcher than Floyd -- though I'm sure there will be some here who disagree -- but they're in the same run-prevention ballpark.
Baker is a control pitcher who still manages to miss quite a few bats. As a result, he should be more reliably effective for the life of the contract based on most projection systems. But, as we've discussed before, we expect Floyd to be the type of pitcher who puts up solid K/BB numbers (just short of 3:1) this season, and expect a Jon Garland-like average-or-better production in the long term.
The one area of concernn I have is health. Floyd hasn't had any major arm issues, but I've never been a huge fan of his delivery, or the way he throws across his body. I'm no pitching mechanics expert, but I will say that his motion doesn't appear to be nearly as clean as Buehrle or Garland's when they signed their extensions.
As long as Floyd stays healthy, his contract should be an asset, even in these unceratin financial times. The Sox may have paid a bit of a big-market premium relative to Baker's extension, but I like to think of it as a Big Hairy Balls luxury tax.
Admit it, you thought I was going to make a Life Goes On reference. Nope. Sorry to disappoint.
Corky Miller had all but wrapped up the back-up catcher spot, but the Sox made it even more apparent Sunday with the trade of Chris Stewart to the Yankees. This marks the second AAA player moved in the last few days, both for the vaporous "future considerations." These moves are more about organizational depth than anything. Look for the Sox to pick up some minor league filler from the Yankees or Giants should they need it at some point this year.
Miller hasn't exactly been an offensive force in the majors. He's gotten only 172 at-bats since 2003, posting a paltry .122/.222/.169 batting line, including .083/.152/.133 in 60 at-bats last season. The Sox have caught lightning in a bottle before at backup catcher, with Chris Widger coming back from playing beer league softball before giving the Sox a capable backup for their World Series run. Here's hoping they've found another one.