2010-11 Free Agency

Free Agent Option: Magglio Ordonez

His eyes had to light up. After Scott Boras realized the Nationals were going to give Jayson Werth a seven-year, $126 million contract, it became clear one of his other clients, Magglio Ordonez, would be getting paid as well.

Prior to that deal, many were unsure how the market would unfold for the talented, yet aging, hitter. Ordonez, soon-to-be 37, is coming off a fractured ankle that ended his 2010 season prematurely. With Detroit last year, he batted .303 with 12 home runs and 59 RBI in 84 games. His .852 OPS was slightly below his career average, although his .378 on-base percentage was slightly above his usual levels.

Boras understands the free agent crop of outfielders is thin and he’ll do his best to cash in on that, even though Ordonez is slowly headed toward being at least a part-time DH. In ’10, he played 71 of his 84 games in the field, however, his age will soon make him a liability with the glove. Ordonez has never been flashy out there, anyway. And, in three of the last five seasons, his UZR has been a negative number.

Now, to that contract he and his agent will be angling for. Early word is, the Ordonez/Boras team want somewhere in the two-year, $20 million neighborhood. The Tigers are considered the front runner, but the Phillies absolutely have to make an inquiry. An issue moving forward for the Phillies would be their surrendering of a first round draft pick due to Ordonez’s type-A status. Is Ruben Amaro willing to give that up for a 36-year old outfielder that has a slowly fading bat and isn’t all that great in the outfield? Seems unlikely at this point. Still, don’t count them out entirely.

The need for a right-handed bat is fairly high after Jayson Werth defected to Washington. Is it high enough to spend $10 million per season, plus bring in another older player? Ordonez could very well have two more solid seasons left in him, especially playing in a smaller park than in Detroit and in a very good offense.

It’s not an easy decision. Ordonez could bring them middle of the order stability on a short-term contract. After all, he has hit .300 or better in each of the last four seasons and hasn’t hit less than .290 since his rookie year of 1998.

On the other hand, Ordonez could easily age quickly like Raul Ibanez, leaving two obstacles to overcome in the outfield. Basically, it all comes down to the asking price and the loss of a draft pick.

Chances: He’s one of the better, more talented hitters on the market, but his age is clearly an issue. So is the contract he wants. We’ll settle for 4/10 Ruben Head’s just because Ordonez is so potent with the bat.

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