Sunday, March 14, 2010

Contract Binge

The Twins have been dishing out so many contracts lately that I am half expecting Bill Smith to call me up to say that I just received a 4 year $13 million deal wrapping me up through my arbitration years; assuring me financial and job security most people only dream of.

I can just imagine the internet lighting up: "Wait, what? The Twins signed that douchey guy with a made up word as the title for his blog to a long term contract? And I thought the Blackburn deal was ridiculous..."

Point being, the Twins are pretty much giving everybody a contract these days.

With the signing of Denard Span to a 5 yr/$16.5 million deal, the Twins added to a list of core players with modest contracts that also includes Jason Kubel, Scott Baker, and Nick Blackburn. When coupled with the larger contracts of Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and the pitcher formerly known as closer, the Twins get a pretty good idea of where they stand financially the next few seasons.

Aside from Nathan, who may never again pitch for the Twins, that list of players makes for a fairly substantial chunk of a fairly successful team.

While it is easy to look at Span and Blackburn deals and think to yourself, "WTF dawg? Dude's are still arbed and under control for the next few years regardless, so why you gettin so frisky?" I look at it and think, "Your financial foresight is impeccable."

The Twins are in a situation now where they can pull out their ledger (I like to think Bill Smith has keeps track of contracts in a big leather ledger scribbled via ink and quill, but maybe that's just me) and feel fairly comfortable with their financial forecast.

Like any forecast, there are no certainties with any player or any contract. And the concerns voiced over some of Blackburn's inconsistencies in particular are understandable, but there is also something to be said for having a financial plan.

In locking up Blackburn, the Twins now have two starting pitchers who have proven at one point or another they can be quality starters (at the Major League Level) signed to long-term deals. The other being Scott Baker.

Basically what this means for the Twins, is they know that Baker and Blackburn will be penciled in as their two and four starters for the next few seasons. And when you consider the relatively modest amount the team is paying for their services, it is pretty comforting to know you have 40% of the rotation under control, and exactly exactly how much that control costs.

Similarly, Span's contract takes him through the rest of his arbitration years (with an option for his first year of free agency). And, like Blackburn and Baker, the Twins are paying for the comfort of knowing Span will be penciled in as their leadoff hitter for the next five years, and the exact amount those years will cost the team.

There is something to be said for that level of comfort.

And that comfort comes from both the known commodity on the field, as well as the financial stability off it. Signing guys through their arbitration years allows the Twins to control the player's contracts, rather than allowing their contracts to control the Twins.

Building an complete baseball team is about putting pieces together, and doing it in a way that allows flexibility to add more pieces to the puzzle. And that is exactly what the Twins are doing.

The foresight allows the Twins to look a few years ahead and know how much money they have to play with. A concept that is even more important as we all wait patiently (or not) for the contract that shall not be named.

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