I could have titled this post, A Winn win for New York or The Yankees are getting Randy!, but it struck me that nobody wants to read about an aging castoff from the San Francisco Giants who signed a bargain basement free agent deal to, essentially, sit on a bench in New York. How Randy Winn is considered an upgrade over Johnny Damon is beyond me, though at $2 million, he couldn’t have come much cheaper if his agent had offered prospective teams coupons. Then again, Winn isn’t overly terrible and it’s a minimal risk for the Yankees; therein lies the rub.
As I said, I can’t justify a full-length post on the Winn signing, though there have been enough interesting developments in the free agent world of late to allow me to cobble something together. The Oakland A’s signed Ben Sheets to a one-year $10 million contract yesterday, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Billy Beane lands Damon. Both of those moves could go a long way toward propelling the Athletics back into the playoffs, or at least above .500. Additionally, the Minnesota Twins landed 39-year-old designated hitter Jim Thome, who has 564 career home runs, for $1.5 million.
If Thome is healthy in 2010, this could wind up being the deal of the off-season– think Frank Thomas in 2006. Even Thome’s numbers for 2009 weren’t too terrible, with 23 home runs split between the White Sox and the Dodgers, who essentially benched him for the last month of the season after acquiring him at the end of August. I would definitely sooner sign a guy like Thome than Rick Ankiel, who got twice as much from the Kansas City Royals. I also think Thome is a safer bet among aging sluggers than fellow 39-year-old Jason Giambi, who just resigned with the Colorado Rockies for $1.75 million.
I continue to be amazed at the number of veterans going for $2 million or less per season this winter. There are the occasional larger deals, like the $6 million the Baltimore Orioles probably didn’t need to give Miguel Tejada to secure his services. For the most part, though, this recession is the gift that keeps on giving for baseball front offices.