11/12/16

Reese Kaplan -- The Art of the Deal

9 comments

Apologies for coopting a title that may rankle some folks after this past Tuesdays election results, but the concept came to mind with Thursday’s deal for R.A. Dickey by the Atlanta Braves.  As Mets fans we perhaps wistfully felt a twinge of regret having embraced fond memories of the man who not only delivered a Cy Young award to a Mets player, but also was responsible for bringing us Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud and Wuilmer Becerra.  While there have been some other early moves including the trade of Cameron Maybin from the Tigers to the Angels, as well as the trade of Howie Kendrick from the Dodgers to the Phillies, Dickey holds the distinction of being the first free agent to switch uniforms.

Then on Friday the wires heated up with the news that Atlanta had struck early once again, securing the services of big Bartolo Colon for one year for $12.5 million.  One can argue whether or not he is being overpaid given his age but based upon how he pitched for the Mets, that number seems fair, though probably a poor fit for the guys from Queens since he would be an emergency starter and/or bullpen piece whereas in Atlanta he's in the regular starting rotation.  

Now the question arises rhetorically is that a good thing or a bad thing for the player and for the acquiring team?  Sandy Alderson is fond of saying he wants to wait for a market to develop.  There’s risks both ways.  He kind of bid against himself when he jumped the gun on Michael Cuddyer who cost not only a lot of money, but also a compensatory draft pick.  On the other hand, he had Yoenis Cespedes fall back into his lap last year when his market failed to materialize as he had hoped it would.

Similarly, Dickey signing a contract so quickly may have sold himself short on what he could have earned once some of the other starting pitcher options were already off the table such as Rich Hill, Jeremy Hellickson, Clayton Richard, Jason Hammel, Doug Fister, Charlie Morton and Ivan Nova. Ditto Bartolo Colon.  At the time of this writing financial terms of Dickey’s deal were not disclosed but it’s unlikely the Braves threw the same kind of money at him that the Blue Jays did upon acquiring him.  Consequently, from a negotiating standpoint, he either is overpaid or underpaid depending on how the market unfolds.

The same question can be raised about trades as well.  They are joined at the hip to the free agent market because regardless of the method of acquisition, the value of the available players goes up or down based upon supply and demand.  For example, both Wilson Ramos and Matt Wieters are free agents this year.  The Yankees have and extraneous catcher in Brian McCann.  Do they try to rush out to deal him away now before the negotiations begin with Ramos and Wieters, or would they be smarter to hold onto him until both of the premier catcher options are off the board?  There’s a risk they could be stuck with him, of course, at more than $17 million per year. 

Sandy Alderson tends to be of the wait and see school of transactions.  The Cuddyer deal was an outlier in an otherwise patient (some might say inert) approach which yielded eleventh hour signings in the past like Jerry Blevins and (shudder) Alex Torres along with his Great Gazoo cap.  The risk here is that all the good options may already be taken. 

So, armchair GMs, which is the better approach?  Do you move boldly and quickly to secure the people you want or do you wait hoping that the price declines?  In the case of free agents, the longer you wait, the less they likely will get.  Case in point is Ian Desmond who turned down a QO with the Nationals to wind up signing a one year $8 million contract with the Rangers.  That was an expensive decision on his part. 

As a project manager, I think the right approach first and foremost is to have a plan, a backup plan and a backup plan to the backup plan.  That plan might very well be to sit tight on the Cespedes front until you see what others offer, or it could be to make a trade for a likely replacement such as Andrew McCutchen or to sign another slugger like Jose Bautista.  The frustration many Mets fans feel is that there is no primary plan other than to try to save money, let alone a contingency plan and an emergency plan. 

What should Sandy Alderson do?  (My answer, of course, was to sign Cespedes to an extension while there was no competition for his services, but hey, planning is in my blood).  

9 comments:

Gary Seagren said...

Colon leaving is sad but I get the reasoning as long as Cespedes becomes THE main target. The problem of course is beyond YC is the FO willing to really spend to get to the promised land. We will be w/o Familia for awhile next season and Blevins is no lock to return and yet there have been no reports of any interest in the outstanding free agent reliever market. So we let our winningest pitcher walk to save $$$ for a player we had last year so if he signs we're still behind because those 15 wins now have to be picked up by hopefully our returning wounded. So the FO is telling us there isn't an issue with money and yet Colon walks and possibly Blevins and were crossing our fingers on YC. If money really isn't an issue sign Bart, Cespedes, and Blevins also pick one of Chapman, Jansen or Melancon and then we have the surplus to go after McClutch..... now that would be quite a team and it needs to be knowing any National league Championship series for quite a few years ahead probably has to go through Chicago.

Mack Ade said...

I also am writing about Colon at 10am today

bob gregory said...

There is no reward for signing any player at a cheaper level.

With this in mind.....

1st I believe a front office has to decide what they want their team to be like. What do they believe will result in a sustainable winning culture based upon scoring more runs than the other teams consistently.

Once this is acoomplished identify what skills must players possess in order to support that result.

Next identify players that exemplify those skills whether they are already on your team, in your minor league system, on other teams or their minor league system, or free agents.

Now it is important to identify those players that are identified as the best examples and establish a range of their value in $$, years, or trade chips.

Within your range: pursue aggressively. If the player leaves your range then move them to the back burner and monitor.

bob gregory said...

There is no reward for signing any player at a cheaper level.

With this in mind.....

1st I believe a front office has to decide what they want their team to be like. What do they believe will result in a sustainable winning culture based upon scoring more runs than the other teams consistently.

Once this is acoomplished identify what skills must players possess in order to support that result.

Next identify players that exemplify those skills whether they are already on your team, in your minor league system, on other teams or their minor league system, or free agents.

Now it is important to identify those players that are identified as the best examples and establish a range of their value in $$, years, or trade chips.

Within your range: pursue aggressively. If the player leaves your range then move them to the back burner and monitor.

Zozo said...

Make Cespedes a 4year $112 million deal right away and get on to business of trading Bruce and Granderson.
Wait out Fowler and see what he is offered and then give him the best offer.
Also slow your roll with Wilson Ramos and see what offers he gets and top that as well.

So to recap move quickly on Cespedes and waiting game with Fowler and Ramos

Robb said...

I dont want to go all economic theory on this article but in this concept money is a flexible asset, while time, and draft picks are not.

Is it worth overpaying a player to fix them into a position on your roster if it is for 1 year the answer is almost always yes. When you add time or other factors like cheaper players behind them not necessarily. this works under the supposition that money while not infinite is flexible. owners usually say they could find an extra million here or there if it meant going to the playoffs.

as a negotiating tactic, leverage is always the best to drive a bargain but being decisive means you can move forward faster and if its a multipronged plan that has value that can be carried forward.

i happen to think these are great moves for the braves considering the terms, cost and impact. I think dickey got to go home to atlanta. Bart got more money then his agent expected and atlanta got to sure up two spots in their rotation at reasonable prices for 1 year plus with dickey and that allows them to be patient with their kids. wins for everyone but the national league east.

Reese Kaplan said...

Once again the front office often works as if there is no plan other than saving money. There are often no contingency plans.

What they should be doing right now is working hard on plans B and C should they not get Cespedes.

WHat more often happens is that things happen around them and then they put more effort into PR spinning the story than they do in accomplishing what should have been done in the first place.

You'll hear a scream louder than the ones heard on election night if I hear, "Well, getting Duda and Wright back is just like adding 50+ home runs to our lineup!"

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Would it be a Howard Dean kinda scream?

Reese Kaplan said...

I'll make Howard Dean sound like Helen Keller.

Mack's Mets © 2012