Dec 17, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
Two more clubs signed free agent left-handers yesterday, and if you’re wondering why the Nationals couldn’t have landed one of these guys, you need only look at the bloated contracts said southpaws were given.
Boone Logan, owner of a 4.39 ERA in eight major-league seasons, got a 3-year, $16.5 million deal from the Rockies. Meanwhile, J.P. Howell, who sports a 4.10 ERA over his own eight big-league seasons, convinced the Dodgers to re-sign him for two years and $11.25 million.
Throw in contracts signed earlier this fall by Javier Lopez (3 years, $13 million) and Manny Parra (2 years, $5.5 million), and you quickly realize just how much the market has blown up for anybody who has the ability to throw a baseball with his left hand.
And you also understand why the Nationals wound up making a relatively minor trade for Jerry Blevins instead of diving headfirst into that pricey, free-agent pool.
It’s not that Mike Rizzo wasn’t allowed to spend that kind of money. The Nats general manager was free to add even more to a payroll that is expected to top $120 million and establish a new franchise record in 2014.
It’s that Rizzo didn’t believe any of those guys were worth the contracts they received.
Look, all of these lefties have value. And we saw last season how much the Nationals needed a quality left-hander in their bullpen. But would you really have felt comfortable guaranteeing three years to Lopez (who will be 39 when his new deal with San Francisco expires) or Logan (who over his four seasons with the Yankees pitched more than 42 innings only once)?
The Nationals certainly wouldn’t. Blevins may not be as prominent a reliever as the other lefties, but he’ll cost roughly $3.5 million over the next two years in D.C., and he was available in exchange for speedy-yet-raw minor leaguer Billy Burns.
“This was the best option we could find with the combination of talent, role, cost,” Rizzo said last week at the Winter Meetings. “This was our best option.”
Now that we know what the other options would have cost the Nationals, it’s hard to dispute the point.
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