|Jason Vargas will make more money |
than Royals fans would like.
That might not really matter though, because even if Jimenez is just an inning-muncher with a little upside, the Orioles paid what is the going rate for that kind of guy, and much less than Jimenez and his agent might have expected when the offseason began.
Jimenez isn't the only one. Ervin Santana, who is still a free agent, was no doubt pleased to see rumors floated that it would take six years and $100 million to land him. If he gets half of that now, I'll be surprised.
Matt Garza, thought to be one of the prizes of the free agent pitching market, also didn't sign until late in the offseason for much less than most people -- including the Cubs -- probably expected him to get. I mean, if you're Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, wouldn't you rather have Garza for Edwin Jackson money instead of Edwin Jackson?
Or another point of contrast: Is Jimenez more or less dicey than Homer Bailey, who just got more than $100 million without even hitting the market?
While the top of the pitching market maybe didn't reach the heights we might have expected with the money rolling into baseball, the bottom of the market didn't seem to suffer. At least not among the teams that felt like they had to strike deals before Christmas.
Does the four-year, $49 million deal the Twins gave Ricky Nolasco before Christmas look so great now that Jimenez and Garza barely got more?
How will the Royals feel if Santana takes the same four-year, $32 million deal they gave Jason Vargas long before everyone in the Midwest got sick of snow this winter? Even worse, what if Santana decides that's a bunk deal so decides to look for a well-paying, one-year prove-it deal -- or what an agent would call a pillow contract -- in an attempt to hit the market again with two recent and successful seasons on his resume.
If the Royals hadn't rushed to sign Vargas, or the Twins to ink Nolasco and Phil Hughes (3 years, $21 million), both might have the room in their budgets and rotations to take advantage, either grabbing a better pitcher for the same or less money, or a comparable pitcher on better terms.
Instead both teams are hamstrung. Bad contracts don't usually do that until after someone's thrown a pitch.
The lesson here seems pretty obvious. Good things, or at least better prices, come to those who wait.