I’m not sure why any team would feel the need to give a multi-year contract to a 36-year-old, career-long utility infielder with a lifetime OPS under .700, but the Reds did just that by inking Miguel Cairo to a two-year deal.
In fairness Cairo is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, hitting .290/.353/.410 for his highest OPS since 2004, but that came in just 266 plate appearances and … well, it’s pretty safe to conclude it was a fluke considering he hit a combined .249 with a .298 on-base percentage and .330 slugging percentage in the previous five seasons.
He’s a useful enough spare part to have around, but he’s no longer a true utility infielder in that he hasn’t started multiple games at shortstop since 2007 and guys like Cairo are available cheaply every offseason. Re-signing him for 2011 is perfectly reasonable if the price is low enough, but committing to him for 2012 at age 38 is just weird.
UPDATE: The deal is essentially done. No word on the specifics yet, but according to Corey Brock of MLB.com, Harang only needs to pass a physical for the contract to become official.
4:47 PM: Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that the Padres “could be close to signing” Aaron Harang, although he attaches an amusing “according to two sources who declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak on the matter” disclaimer.
We may have reached absurd levels when it comes to putting unnamed sources into context, but whatever. Harang is a San Diego native and, like all pitchers trying to resurrect their career, would benefit from calling Petco Park home.
He just finished a four-year, $34.5 million contract, compiling a ghastly 18-38 record in the final three seasons of the deal. With a 4.71 ERA and 377/131 K/BB ratio in 458 innings his secondary numbers were much better than the win-loss record suggests, but his days of being a top-of-the-rotation starter are gone.
Still, the Padres are looking for someone to eat innings after losing Jon Garland and Kevin Correia (and Chris Young), and Harang would certainly be worth a low-cost flier.
General manager Walt Jocketty said yesterday that the Reds haven’t had any long-term contract talks with Joey Votto yet in part because “we were waiting until after the MVP [was announced] to be fair to him.”
Now that he has an MVP award at age 26 the long-term price tag has probably gone up, but Votto seemed unsure when asked about whether the two sides would engage in contract talks:
We haven’t had any talks. How open am I to that? I don’t know. You’d have to see the figures and talk about the years. Because we haven’t have any conversations about it. It wouldn’t be fair to comment on it. I’m not trying to dodge the question. But I’ve got nothing. That’s OK right now. I don’t want to be peppered with contract stuff all offseason.
I’m sure many Reds fans are clamoring for the team to get Votto signed long term, but at this point there’s really no hurry to do so. Because he got a relatively late start and didn’t become a full-time player in the majors until age 24 he’s arbitration eligible for the first time in 2011, which means Votto is already under team control through his age-29 season in 2013.
Plenty of time for the two sides to work on a deal and plenty of time for the Reds to see if he’s able to repeat his MVP-winning performance before committing to Votto into his 30s.
Dontrelle Willis hasn’t been healthy and effective since 2006, but Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that the 29-year-old left-hander will make his latest comeback attempt with the Reds after agreeing to a minor-league contract today.
Willis was let go by the Tigers, Diamondbacks, and Giants last season while posting a 5.62 ERA with more walks (56) than strikeouts (47) in 65.2 innings, and dating back to 2007 he’s 13-24 with a 5.81 ERA and 228/206 K/BB ratio in 329 total innings.
Willis’ raw stuff is perhaps still good enough to get big-league hitters out even through his velocity has definitely declined compared to his 2003-2005 peak, but the quality of his stuff will remain a moot point as long as he can’t consistently throw the ball over the plate.
He’s someone to root for, but Willis is facing some awfully long odds at this stage.