I can now personally to the fact that there is nothing more dejecting than wandering through lonely, dark campus buildings on a cold, overcast morning trying to find a seminar of unknown location ... and nothing more uplifting than listening to the latest episode of the Baseball Prospectus podcast with Jason Parks and Kevin Goldstein (see how I seamlessly transitioned from one topic to the next right there?):
- According to major league sources, the Rangers not only intend to aggressively pursue both left-hander Cliff Lee and catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez in free agency, but also have the financial wherewithal to sign both; team ownership has reportedly pre-approved the $90-plus million budget necessary to sign both (Ken Rosenthal, FOXSports.com)
[This is one of those I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it types of stories, at least in terms of adding $35 million in a single off-season, but there's plenty more time to air my skepticism. Beyond that, the real story here is Victor Martinez, who in some way epitomizes Nichols' Law of Catcher Defense -- his offensive reputation is incredible, and he is in fact one of the best-hitting catchers of all time, but he has serious difficulties controlling the running game, and will probably log the bulk of his playing time at first base/DH by the end of whatever contract he receives; the sooner that this actually has to happen, the more detrimental the effects on his value. Case in point: a full-time catcher becoming a full-time first baseman would stand to lose around 20-25 runs via positional adjustment alone.
The most popular numbers getting thrown around for Martinez appear to be four years and $48 million, which -- when viewed in conjunction -- would greatly heighten the probability of the last year or two of his contract constituting an "albatross, as those would be his age-34 and -35 years, respectively. My first instinct is that this wouldn't be a very good value (albeit still a better value when including team context than Carl Crawford at $100-plus million, I think), and I would hope these figures wouldn't actualize, but the early indications of this being a bull market for free-agent prices and Martinez's positional scarcity don't leave me too optimistic that his price will fall.]
- As a counterpoint to the above report (which cites the Rangers' new television deal as one of the primary reasons why Texas could bulk up its payroll into nine-digit territory), "one baseball man" familiar with the Rangers' situation says that their new ownership group used up a substantial portion of the television deal's up-front signing bonus in order to finance the purchase of the team, and notes that the Rangers will lose $8-15 million per season now that they're about to shed their status as a revenue-sharing taker (Jayson Stark, ESPN.com)
[The exact value of the signing bonus has not been disclosed to this point, I don't think, although an educated guess on my part would peg it in the $50-70 million range. Now, if you want to take a pessimistic stance and say that the Rangers consumed virtually all of that signing bonus already through the purchase of the team and forthcoming ballpark enhancements (e.g. the new right field scoreboard), and that whatever is left is offset entirely by the loss in revenue-sharing money, you're left with one main source of additional revenue: the present and future cash flows stemming from the Rangers' run to the World Series. The organization has greatly downplayed the financial impact of its playoff success, whereas other sources (e.g Vince Gennaro) have valued the total present-value impact of a deep post-season run in the $30-35 million range. The latter figure is probably more accurate, but if the Rangers don't see all of that revenue immediately, one has to wonder of how much use it is in building an upper-middle-tier payroll.]