On Saturday afternoon, Peter Gammons tweeted something that hasn’t been entirely clear in its meaning.
Here’s the tweet:
Agent:”3 years Buck, Benoit. Pirates, Royals offering big. This is a great market. Angels, Red Sox, Mets could be left behind”
To break it down, the comment from this agent has its obvious elements – Joaquin Benoit and John Buck just signed three year contracts. The confusing part is where this agent seems to think the Royals and Pirates will shut out the Angels, Red Sox and Mets.
Maybe I’ve missed an article that explains the quote, but otherwise, that doesn’t seem to make sense. The Royals and Pirates outbidding, well, anybody just seems improbable for any major free agents.
Some have speculated that this refers specifically to Jorge de la Rosa, who’s been mentioned as a target of both the Royals and Pirates. That could certainly be the case, though de la Rosa’s agent is Bobby Barad, while the Buck and Benoit deals were negotiated by the Levinson Brothers of ACES Agency Inc., so their mention in the tweet may be circumstantial.
It would follow then that perhaps the tweet doesn’t hint at de la Rosa at all, and may pertain to other ACES free agents. Other notable free agents represented by ACES are Grant Balfour, Randy Choate, Javier Vazquez, Aaron Harang, Melky Cabrera and Eric Hinske. As a Royals fan, I don’t see the Royals as targeting any of those (or that’s maybe wishful thinking because I don’t want Cabrera anywhere near this team). I also don’t see much of a bidding war for most of those players, though Vazquez will draw interest. Just not from Pittsburgh or Kansas City.
I’ve also wondered if it refers to draft strategies, since both the Royals and Pirates are among the seven teams who have surpassed $20 million in signing bonuses among their top five bonus contracts. The problem with that is that the other teams are those clubs who have usually had top ten picks, so of course their bonuses will be higher at those draft slots. No, that can’t be it, mostly because what would it have to do with the current free agent market?
Are the Royals involved in unknown negotiations for Jayson Werth or Cliff Lee? The current standing and short-term potential of the Royals would likely shut out any big name free agent signings unless they were willing to shell out an extra year or two of guaranteed money and a higher salary as well. Neither the Royals nor the Pirates seem willing to do anything like that, instead waiting for their rich farm systems to develop. It’s also unlikely the Red Sox or Mets couldn’t win over a free agent based on their market and merchandising possibilities.
So I’m stumped. Maybe it refers to offering veterans in trade offers, like a “big offer” of Zack Greinke. But how that pertains to the other teams, I don’t know. It seems like the Red Sox would be a team that may be in the market for Zack Greinke, so I don’t know how they’d be left behind. The only “big” trade chip the Pirates might have would be Ryan Doumit or maybe Garrett Jones, but I wouldn’t classify either of them as significant trade targets.
Considering that a recent Gammons article on MLB.com proposes that the Royals are aiming to maintain their draft and international signing budgets by keeping payroll around $60 million, there’s no real link between the agent’s quote and the state of the Royals (and Pirates).
While I’d find it interesting to visit MLBTradeRumors.com tomorrow and see that the Royals have signed Jayson Werth to a five year contract, or that Carl Crawford suddenly wants to be a Royal, the likelihood of either scenario is pretty slim. Sadly, as fun as that would be, I think this is more agent-speak than anything (though why Gammons passed it on, I don’t know). Maybe it’s an attempt to plant the seed that if the Royals and Pirates are willing to spend big, then the Red Sox, Mets and Angels are going to have to make their strongest deals to stay ahead and get their coveted targets.
It’s a bizarre tweet, but then, if you follow Gammons, his messages are often a bit cryptic. Maybe that’s the curse of the 140-character format. The limits of the medium. Whatever the case, maybe it’s something significant and we’ll discover Jayson Werth (and his awesome beard) playing right field next year and beyond.
Hey, it could happen.