Imagine the range of emotions this morning, as I see that B.J. Ryan reportedly agrees to a deal on the front page of the Sports section. Disappointment and a little bit of surprise, as Ryan had stated his intent to join a team ready for playoff contention.
Open the paper to the article detailing in the terms. Incredulously say out loud, “5 years for $47.5M?!?”. My thoughts turn to how the negotiations must’ve gone, probably over a nice dinner:
John Courtright (Ryan’s agent) – B.J. would really like to play for a contender next year.
J.P. Ricciardi (Toronto GM) – We feel we’re right there in the AL East, with money to spend.
Courtright – There are other teams in the running a lot closer than the Jays.
Ricciardi (going into used-car salesman mode) – OK, tell me what it will take to get B.J. into a Jays uniform. Throw out a number.
Courtright – I don’t know…5 years, $47 and a half million.
Ricciardi – Done.
Courtright (getting up, shaking hands, and throwing money on the table) – OK, great I’ll send over the paperwork tomorrow morning, (under his breath) before you realize what you’ve just done.
That may be a bit of a stretch, but let’s look at some hard numbers. Now in no way am I discounting that B.J. Ryan is a nice relief pitcher, certainly with the potential to close for a very long time in the majors. However, let’s do a comparison, using Mariano Rivera’s contract from 2001-2004:
Ryan 2005 - 31 years old, 42 career saves, 1 year of closing.
-Contract for 5 years worth essentially $9.5M a year
Rivera 2001 – 31 years old, 165 career saves, 4+ years of closing.
-Contract for 4 years worth essentially $10M a year
-Did I mention he also had 19 postseason saves and a WS MVP under his belt?
I realize that players’ salaries go up every year, but this is ridiculous. Billy Wagner, the consensus best FA closer is 33 with 284 career saves during 9 years of closing games.
Guess whose price just went up. Do you think that Omar Minaya reacted well to the report?
I assumed that Wagner would get about $9.5M a year over 3 years with Ryan’s deal settling at about $8M a year over 3. So, this just completely threw those numbers out the window, not only in terms of money, but also in terms of years. Who gives a reliever a 5-year deal? He may perform at a nice level for a few years, but to lock up a closer with a short track record for that amount reeks of desperation.
Now there are conflicting reports of whether this deal is truly done (probably as Ricciardi went back to the office, looking for congratulations and receiving only gasps of, “how long…and for how much…for B.J. Ryan?), but it illustrates the FA concept that It Only Takes One Team:
- It Only Takes One Team to offer two more years than everyone else.
- It Only Takes One Team to outbid everyoe (sometimes outlandishly) to set the tone for the whole FA market, causing everyone's prices to go up.
- It Only Takes One Team to “make a splash for their fans” by getting the player they want, regardless of any other circumstances.
We'll see if this deal goes through and, if so, who the Indians turn their attention to (Farnsworth, Hoffman, Gordon, or good ole Wicky) in the continuation of their bullpen restructuring project.