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by Derek Smart
Anyone wondering who the team was making room for when they jettisoned Jon Leicester had their query answered tonight, as it looks like the Cubs won the Scott Eyre sweepstakes - if there can really be such a thing - signing the lefty to a two year deal with a player option for year three. Ken Rosenthal is saying it's a three-year deal for $11M, and since a three-year deal is essentially what a two-year deal with a player option usually turns out to be, especially in the case of highly paid middle relievers, that's close enough for me.
UPDATE: Looks like it is, indeed, a three year deal, with ESPN's piece reporting that the deal breaks down to $3M in 2006, and $4M the following two seasons.
I'll admit this deal makes me a little sad, because I was beginning to think the Cubs had learned their lesson when it came to spending so many bills on men who threw so few innings - and without being outright dominant, at that - but I suppose I was throwing pennies in the fountain on that score.
It's not that he won't shore up the bullpen in 2006 - I believe he will, although he's highly unlikely going into his age 34 season to have another year like the one he had in 2005 - it's that the idea of paying large sums of money to men who have just had their best season ever while doing a job that, by its very nature, will see wild fluctuations in season to season results, is simply wrong headed.
I don't want to be totally negative. I think Eyre will contribute, and I welcome him to the Cubs and wish him the best of luck. The fact is, I think he'll do quite well, but my issue isn't with his being on board in the first place, it's with the organizational philosophy that says it's a good idea to give him more dollars and years than you were willing to give one of your starting middle infielders last season. It's gotten the club in trouble in the past, and while we all may get lucky and not have it be a problem in this specific case, it is a way of doing business that will get them in trouble in the future.