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Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
Two More Years?
by Alex Ciepley
Alex: I share Derek's enthusiasm for both the length and amount of Aramis' new contract with the Cubs. But as the details filter in, I'm a lot less sure this is a good deal.
The AP release lists the deal as being worth $2M less than the initial estimate of $44M, but the news isn't all good for the Cubs. There's also this nugget:
[Ramirez] can terminate his new deal after 2006.
Rich Lederer, a true Web Gem, wrote the following in his criticism of a similar deal that the Dodgers gave J.D. Drew this offseason:
[I]t is the Dodgers -- and not their new star -- who are taking all the risk here. The only reason why Drew would opt out is if his market value has grown to where he can get an even more lucrative deal elsewhere. If he plays poorly or gets hurts, then the Dodgers will be stuck with him for the duration of the five years.
The same logic holds true for the Aramis deal. If Ramirez plays well the next two years... well, great for the Cubs, but even better for Aramis. He can drop the rest of his now-undervalued contract and sign for bigger bucks elsewhere.
But if Ramirez doesn't perform up to expectations--or his ankle cracks or back swells--the Cubs are stuck with him for two more years at a price above market value. In order for the deal to work for the Cubs, Ramirez has to perform at a good-but-not-great level for the first two years of the deal. Good enough to justify the dollars, but not so great that he opts out of his contract. Where's the benefit in this setup for the Cubs?
The Cubs have assumed all the risk in this deal. I like the number of years: 4. I like the average dollar amount: $10.5M. I just don't like no stinkin' termination clauses.
Derek: Agreed. When I first posted on the deal there was no word on the termination clause, and that changes everything. As Alex said, the risk is all on the Cubs, because if Aramis is really good it's a two year deal and he can either walk or request the keys to the mint, and if he stinks the joint up, it's four seasons of overpaying for unrealized potential. True, he could perform just well enough to deserve the agreed upon cash and no more, but what's the fun in rooting for that?
Earlier I was happy, but this clause leaves me with a sour taste. I'll still cheer for Aramis to blow the lid off the league, but now every home run, every All-Star appearance, every MVP vote gets him another step closer to leaving the Cubs or breaking the bank, and I'd just as soon have Aramis at the hot corner and my little piggy intact.