Your pre-arbitration filing deadline signing scoreboard, Part II

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More of the arbitration filing deadline insanity Part I is here (UPDATE: We now have a Part III too!).  All are one-year deals unless otherwise specified:

  • Jeff Francoeur, Mets, $5 million.  I’d lay into the guy here, but at this point I’d be like ripping on that awful, horrible girl you used to date but dumped last year. It just says more about me than it does about him at this point.  Though, if you want to quote me as calling Francoeur an awful, horrible girl, I’m not going to stop you.
  • Huston Street, Rafael Betancourt, Rockies, $22.5 million over three years for Street, $7.55 million over two years for Betancourt. Colorado thinks that one-year deals are for suckers. Aaron is going to have more on the Street deal shortly.
  • J.J. Hardy, Twins, $5 million. I wish I got a raise after having a crappy year;
  • Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals, $5.45 million. Ditto;
  • Josh Hamilton, Rangers, $3.25 million plus incentives tied to postseason awards. I’m assuming that that does not include awards bestowed by Deadspin;
  • Jason Bartlett, Rays, $4 million, coming off a really spiffy year. Word is that the Twins will give Tampa Bay back Delmon Young if they, you know, want a do-over;
  • Jorge Cantu, Leo Nunez, Marlins $6 million and $2 million, respectively. For all of the noise, there’s still nothing stopping the Feesh from trading Cantu. Or Nunez. Or Uggla. Or Johnson. If they’re not within striking distance of the Phillies come June they’ll unload and have a rebuilding argument that, while not really plausible, will be enough to make everyone just roll their eyes, forget going after them via a grievance and let the Marlins be the Marlins;
  • Carlos Gomez and Rickie Weeks, Brewers.  Weeks gets $2.75 million. We don’t know Gomez’s money.  He made $437,500 in 2009, which is better than you did;
  • George Sherrill, James Loney and Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers. Sherrill gets $4.5 million, Loney $3.1 million and Kuo $950,000. In addition, Jamie McCourt gets Tuesday visitation, every other weekend and alternating holidays;
  • Howie Kendrick, Angels, $1.75 million.  That’s a lot of money for a guy they won’t let hit against righties.
  • Rajai Davis, Athletics, $1.35 million. A good second half for Davis, though he can’t be too happy about Coco Crisp coming to town. There are a lot of random outfielders floating around between Oakland and Sacramento, and someone is gonna think they’re getting boned at some point. 
  • Jonathan Sanchez, Giants, $2.1 million. There are incentives here too. If the Giants were bright they’d consider dealing him and his no-hitter juju to someone for some offensive help, but I don’t give Sabean that kind of credit for creativity.

I’m sure more deals will spill out throughout the afternoon. We may deploy our version of Danny Herrera for mopup duty on this stuff later today.

Zack Greinke understands that “the opener” isn’t just about in-game strategy

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Over the weekend, Craig was among those cited as having criticized the Rays by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Craig wrote about it in Sunday’s And That Happened. Many of the responses from Rays fans to him on Twitter, at least most of what I saw, conflated distaste for ownership’s penny-pinching for a belief that the team is bad. Indeed, the Rays enter Tuesday’s action 64-61 and their position above .500 has something to do with “the opener” strategy, which is when they have a reliever like Sergio Romo start the game before handing the ball off to an actual starter after an inning or two. Other teams, like the Twins, have taken notice of “the opener” and have begun experimenting with it.

On Monday, Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller published a lengthy column discussing how recent changes to the game of baseball have made it a worse product. He quotes a lot of old-timers, which I discussed yesterday. Miller also quoted Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke on the subject of “the opener.” While quotes from the likes of Goose Gossage and Pete Rose were a bit more eye-popping, Greinke’s thoughts shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Greinke said:

It’s really smart, but it’s also really bad for baseball. It’s just a sideshow. There’s always ways to get a little advantage, but the main problem I have with it is you do it that way, then you’ll end up never paying any player what he’s worth because you’re not going to have guys starting, you’re not going to have guys throwing innings.

You just keep shuffling guys in and out constantly so nobody will ever get paid. Someone’s going to make the money, either the owners or the players. You keep doing it that way, the players won’t make any money.

Back in May, I wrote about how the overarching concept of “bullpenning” creates a serious labor issue in baseball. Greinke touched on exactly those points. An elite starter makes significantly more money than an elite reliever. Compare contracts signed by David Price (seven years, $217 million) and Max Scherzer (seven years, $210 million) to the contract signed by Aroldis Chapman (five years, $86 million), which is currently the most lucrative contract signed by a reliever. It wouldn’t crack the top-85 contracts in baseball.

A starter’s number of starts and his innings pitched total are both cited in arbitration filings and contract negotiations. A pitcher who made 33 starts in a season will have more leverage than a pitcher made only 15 starts. Meanwhile, Romo and Ryne Stanek‘s innings totals aren’t much different than a normal year of relief. Thus, if you’re Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman and GM Erik Neander, spreading the number of starts (and innings) between the “rotation” and bullpen will reduce the cost of pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible starters. The owners save this money and pocket it instead of reinvesting it into the team. Then they’ll turn around, cry poor, and ask residents of Tampa to foot the billion-dollar bill for a new stadium in Ybor City, roughly 25 minutes from their current digs.

Greinke is right and we should pay attention to what he’s saying. While “the opener” has some strategic merit, particularly for teams with less-than-complete starting rotations, it also conveniently helps save money for stingy and exploitative front offices. We’ve already accepted that a third of the league gave up on the season before it began. Let’s not accept that teams can give up on their pitching staffs as well.