Saturday, December 02, 2006
The focus of the media has been on the Sox not offering Trot Nixon arbitration. Due to the changes in the new, but not ratified CBA, the decision on Nixon boils down to the Sox fearing him accepting their offer thereby paying him $7 + million for 2007. $7+ million likely over compensates Nixon for his forecasted contribution next year. The new CBA and Nixon being a Type B free agent (compensation would be only a supplemental draft pick between the first and second rounds) made the Sox decision much easier.
Now, Theo is not confined to any practical salary parameters for Nixon. The Olde Towne Team can bring him back at the “market rate” for often injured, high OBP, declining slugging and range right fielders that can’t hit southpaws. Nixon back at the right price would be a low risk/financial commitment - high reward signing.
The more questionable move is not offering Mark Loretta the option of salary arbitration. In this market with his lesser double play partner scoring a three-year deal, Loretta is likely to earn at least a similar contract and decline the Sox offer of arbitration. As a Type A free agent, the Sox would have been compensated with a supplemental draft pick and another pick - likely a first or second rounder - when Loretta signed a multi-year deal.
Perhaps, I am overestimating Loretta’s value on the open market or the Sox are very close to inking Julio Lugo and don‘t want to deal with the possibility of too many dollars in middle infield (If the Sox did not prematurely resign Alex Cora, this would not have been as much of an issue). Even so, the Sox could trade Loretta. He would be valuable at a one-year deal for around $4-6.5 million (given Durham‘s deal and the contracts of Castillo and Grudzielanek). The Sox would have little leverage, but something is better than nothing in this worse case scenario.
Now, the Sox could be without a first rounder next June with the signing of a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration like Julio Lugo. This scenario has the potential to set the farm system back like in 2004. But if the Sox go all the way in 2007, all will be forgiven. I’m just not betting the house on it.