Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 4, 2007
BASEBALL: Posada Crossing Town?

The papers have been full of the rumor that the Mets may pursue Jorge Posada:

Industry sources are becoming increasingly baffled at the sluggish pace the Yankees have taken with the five-time All-Star catcher. Even though Posada has filed for free agency, the Bombers are in an exclusive 15-day negotiating rights period with the catcher but apparently have not presented an offer since the end of the season.

It appears inevitable that Posada will not sign a deal with the Yankees before Nov. 13, the date that other teams can get involved in the bidding, so the Bombers run the risk of another club blowing the catcher away with a huge offer.

The Yankees are believed to have internally discussed an offer of three years and $40 million, but one source believes it will take more than that to bring Posada back to the Bronx, most definitely if he gets out into the open market.

Mets sources say GM Omar Minaya has identified Posada at the top of the team's list of free agent targets. Like he did with Pedro Martinez before the 2005 season, Minaya might be willing to go above and beyond to secure the rights of a possible Hall of Famer.

If the Mets offer Posada four years - or possibly five - it would leave the Yankees in a difficult spot, as they would be committing more years than they wish to a catcher who will turn 37 next summer.

Bidding against the Yankees always involves a high probability of failure, especially when you are talking about them re-signing a veteran who's been in their organization his whole career. Cerrone notes that some reports are, wisely, suggesting that Posada may just be getting the Mets' name in the mix to improve his leverage.

That said, what's the downside? There are few big-money free agents that the Mets would otherwise pursue - I don't really see them getting A-Rod - and there's no question that, given their current roster, Posada would help the Mets more than anyone else on the market, especially since there are really no other quality catchers out there - the Tigers picked up Pudge's option, Lo Duca and Kendall are basically just singles hitters, and Damian Miller is 38 (other than Posada, Michael Barrett, at 31 coming off a single bad year, may be the #2 guy on the market, and perhaps I should not be so quick to write him off). So, it's worth a try.

Would he be worth a 4-5-year deal in the $50-70 million range? Well, after some of last season's contracts, it's hard to know where the market is, and you can't evaluate dollars in a vacuum. Posada's not young - he's the same age as Lo Duca and only three years younger than Piazza. He's a year younger than Javy Lopez and a year older than Mike Lieberthal, and both of those guys are finished. When I looked at comps for Piazza two years ago, I did not find the most encouraging signs even for the most elite catchers in their late 30s. Posada was not worked that hard in his youth, catching 110 games in a big league season for the first time at age 28, but he's now caught 1360 games (not counting the minors and the postseason - he's probably caught in nearly all 96 of his postseason games), and that takes its toll. He's also not the greatest defensive catcher, although his arm is stronger than Lo Duca's (faint praise, I know).

As with any free agent, it comes down to what the Mets are willing to lay out financially. The Mets have no significant catching prospects on the way, and short of waiting and hoping for Joe Mauer to go on the market, they aren't likely to get an elite catcher any time soon. I'd make a run at him.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:33 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

If Posada was even two years younger, I'd say this was a no-brainer. But a four-year deal has the Mets committed to a 40-year old catcher. Even if he isn't as broken down as a typical catcher of his age, he's probably peaked. Now, if they could possibly move him to first after this year, then maybe he's worth a shot. But I'd just as soon go after a lower-level catcher and go with a platoon.

Posted by: paul zummo at November 4, 2007 9:31 AM

I've spent the last five years or so watching the Giants sign multi year contracts with older players. Generally, they get injured and the owners ended up not getting their money's worth. This is not really rocket science. It does tell me that the Mets farm system must be dry for catchers which will be proven when and if Posada goes down. It's not my money to spend, but I would never sign a man that age to more than two years. If Posada's agent won't accept it, then consider it a bad deal not made.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at November 4, 2007 9:45 AM

He's not leaving the Yankees so any thought or time spent on this by Minaya or the fans is nothing short of a complete waste of time.

Posted by: Normie at November 4, 2007 12:45 PM

The downside is that he is a Y*nkee and will always be a Y*nkee no matter which team he signs for to be overpaid during his rapid crumbling decline and I absolutely refuse to root for him.

Posted by: Keith L. at November 4, 2007 4:55 PM

Posada is both a better hitter and a better fielder than LoDuca, about the same age, and with similar wear and tear. I can't really justify the money, because catchers tend to age badly, but Posada shows signs of aging like Carlton Fisk. Outbidding the Yankees for him would be a leap of faith, but it would certainly make them a better team next year.

Posted by: Jerry at November 4, 2007 9:54 PM

I don't care about how much money he gets, just his on field production. And at his age, there is no way he continues to produce for four years. One year, sure, two years, probably, but years 3+ could be ugly. We just saw this with Piazza, we don't need to go through that again.

Shows what a weak FA crop of catchers there is this year. Plus the Mets have spent the past few years trading their best minor league catchers, even converted one to a pitcher. So no help in the system. I'd rather have them seek a trade for the best young, AAA catcher they can identify, let him split time with Castro until he can take over the role.

Posted by: Ron at November 5, 2007 11:07 AM

It won't happen. The upside for Posada staying on the Yankees is that even if he can't catch too much longer, he can easily transition over to DH, especially after 2008 when they'll be no more Jason Giambi around.

Posted by: Jay at November 5, 2007 11:57 AM

Why get Posada? He can't pitch. Get Pettite instead, he won 15 games and posted a 4.05 ERA in a superior league. Offer him 3 years, 45 mil and see if he bites.

Posted by: Wes at November 6, 2007 9:58 AM

Pettite has already declined his player option and is debating between coming back with the Yankees for another year and retiring.

While Posada’s production is guaranteed to decline considerably (though it can be buffered with a DH role after Giambi gets the boot) and his defensive skills are lacking, he has two points in his favor.

First is that he calls a great game and works well with pitchers. While there are other catchers available, i.e. Michael Barrett, they don’t call half as good a game as he does. As the Yankees are in the middle of grooming an entire fleet of your pitchers, having an experienced catcher like Posada can make a difference for years to come.

Secondly, the next catcher in the Yankee’s orgization is way down in the minor leagues; he’ll need to be a anchor for the team until they can trade for someone better, sign someone (Joe Mauer?) or bring someone up.

Posted by: Anthony at November 6, 2007 4:27 PM
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