Ryan Dempster says he never turned down that deal to the Braves. Um, OK.

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Ryan Dempster was all-but-traded to the Braves last week, but rejected it with his 10/5 rights.  At least that’s what The Man wants you to believe. Dempster says it didn’t go down like that:

“The truth of the matter is, at the end of the day, I didn’t turn down any trades. All I asked for was more time on one particular trade. I didn’t really get that time. It got leaked out that I said yes and then I said no. And even after I said no — I never officially said no — I said I needed time to think about it, and I have the right to that time. I know people want an answer overnight, but I’ve been traded twice in my career with no say and so to have a little bit of say and time to make a decision, that’s all I wanted. Unfortunately it went down the way it did. I felt bad for the Atlanta Braves. They are a first-class, top-notch organization.”

Couple things:

  • When someone who prefaces an assertion of fact with “frankly,” or “the truth of the matter” or “in all honesty,” it usually means that the following statement will neither be frank, truthful nor honest. If you add an “at the end of the day” to it, sorry, I’m more suspicious, because that’s just vamping, verbal goo.
  • If all Dempster wanted was more time, and he did not, in fact, get traded to the Braves, doesn’t that strongly suggest that he did, in fact, turn it down? Because I’m having a hard time seeing the Cubs just voluntarily walking away from what almost everyone thought was a great deal in landing Randall Delgado unless they were forced to.
  • If that didn’t happen and, instead, it was the Braves who bailed, it was because Dempster’s delay caused them to rethink. Which, effectively speaking, means that Dempster did scuttle the deal through his actions if not his words.

Is there another possibility here? I’m having a hard time seeing one. What seems pretty obvious, however, is that Dempster is really interested in not being seen as the impediment to that scuttled deal, when he almost certainly was, one way or another.

And just to be clear: he had every right in the world to sink that deal if he wanted to. His union brothers negotiated for that considerable power and he earned the right to exercise that considerable power through his consistency and longevity.

But you know what they say about what comes with great power, right?

Eric Hosmer’s eight-year, $144 million contract isn’t that bad

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Late Saturday night, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres and first baseman Eric Hosmer agreed to an eight-year, $144 million contract, the new largest contract in club history. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, the contract includes an opt-out after the fifth year. Further, Hosmer will average $21 million per year for those first five years and $13 million for the final three years, so it’s severely front-loaded.

Hosmer, 28, had a career year last season, playing in all 162 games while batting .318/.385/.498 with 25 home runs, 94 RBI, and 98 runs scored in 671 plate appearances. Per Baseball Reference, Hosmer accrued 4.0 Wins Above Replacement, only one of six first basemen to do so. At No. 6, he was 0.4 WAR behind Anthony Rizzo and 0.4 WAR ahead of Logan Morrison.

Wil Myers had previously told the Padres he would accept a position change if the club were to sign Hosmer. He will be moving to the outfield as a result. The Padres now have a logjam in the outfield, so Jose Pirela could move moved to the infield. How the Padres plan to handle that situation remains to be seen.

The general consensus about the Hosmer signing once news broke was that it is laughably bad. Back in November, Dave Cameron — ironically now in the Padres’ front office — called Hosmer a “free agent landmine.” That thought hasn’t really changed among many writers. For example, using restraint, Dennis Lin of The Athletic calls the deal “a big gamble.” MLB Network’s Brian Kenny said Hosmer has at least three “red flags.”

FanGraphs projects the Padres to finish 71-91, so adding Hosmer isn’t likely to transform the club into a contender on his own. That being said, the Padres’ payroll was only at $70 million prior to the Hosmer signing, so the contract won’t hamstring them going forward. If the young nucleus of players — including Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe — perform as expected, the Padres could be a threat in the NL West relatively soon with plenty of cheap, cost-controlled players and having some experienced veterans like Hosmer and Myers could be useful for their intangibles — pennant race/playoff experience, clubhouse presence, leadership, etc.

Hosmer has had three seasons of 3.5 WAR or more, according to Baseball Reference. He’s had four between -0.5 and 1.0. Now entering his age-28 season, it’s hardly a guarantee he’ll be an All-Star-caliber player in 2018, let alone in 2022 when he is 32 years old. From a strict dollars-to-WAR standpoint in a complete vacuum, one could’ve done better than Hosmer at eight years, $144 million.

The Padres, however, aren’t a small market team; they just operate like one. Forbes valued the club at $1.125 billion last April. The Padres don’t have the financial muscle of the Dodgers or Yankees, but paying Eric Hosmer $18 million on average for the first five years of his contract won’t come close to hurting the organization in any way, shape, or form. More importantly, signing Hosmer shows the rest of the team and the fans a commitment to being legitimate, bumping the payroll up towards $90 million. That now dwarfs teams like the large-market Phillies, who opened up spring training with just over $60 million in player obligations.

In the grand scheme of things, the Hosmer signing is also a good sign given the standstill in the free agent market. Many veteran players — even reliever Fernando Abad, who posted a 3.30 ERA last season — had to settle for minor league contracts instead of guaranteed major league deals. Many others, including the likes of Jake Arrieta and J.D. Martinez, remain unsigned. The rumor that Hosmer wanted more than seven years and close to $150 million was laughed at last month. Agent Scott Boras was still able to get his client the deal he wanted, which could bode well for those still teamless. Martinez’s patience may yet be rewarded like Hosmer’s was; money may once again start flowing in the free agent economy.

In summation, the Eric Hosmer contract is good if: you are Eric Hosmer, related to or a friend of Eric Hosmer, a teammate of Hosmer’s, Scott Boras, a current or soon-to-be free agent, a Padres fan, and a baseball fan in general. The Hosmer contract is bad if: you are a penny-pinching owner of a Major League Baseball team, or someone who cares more about $/WAR than an actual good product being put on the field.