Corey and I normally see eye to eye when it comes to the Phillies. Hell, that’s why we work so well together on Phillies Nation TV. But after hearing the details of Carlos Ruiz’s new three-year contract, it turns out we were on opposite sides of the spectrum on this topic. We exchanged emails and decided to publish them for you to see. Will you take a side?
Corey Seidman, 1:30pm: Looks like we disagree on the Carlos Ruiz re-signing, huh?
Pat Gallen, 1:34pm: I think so, yes, looking at our twitter feeds. Can’t say I love the three year deal, especially the fourth year option. I know it’s a club option, but it’s just another aging player getting a multi-year deal on a roster filled with them. At some point it has to stop, right?
CS, 1:44pm: For me it’s more a matter of what was available. Brian McCann was too expensive and not a fit because of his left-handed bat. A.J. Pierzynski is even older than Ruiz, a worse defender, and left-handed. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is younger, but overrated and sure to be overpaid. Cameron Rupp and Tommy Joseph? What proof do we have either will ever develop into more than a major-league backup?
Three years seems like a lot at first glance, but consider the alternatives. Initial projections by many had Ruiz getting two years and $18-22 million. This three-year deal is actually for less money annually, which is all that matters for the luxury tax. And do you honestly see this $8.5 million AAV preventing the Phillies from doing something else they wanted to do this winter or next?
PG, 2:21pm: Valid points about the other catchers on the market. The Phillies should not have gone after McCann or Saltalamacchia because they’ll both be overpaid. Pierzynski made zero sense in so many ways. That’s why I was a fan of signing Dioner Navarro. He can hold down the fort for a few years and you could do worse. He was able to catch a full season with the Cubs this year and is much, much younger than Chooch. And we really have no proof Rupp or Joseph can be long-term solutions, but how do you know until you try? At some point they have to give the kids some leeway.
Three years seems like a lot because it is. Again, we’re going down the road of the Phillies signing an old head for three years, or more. I know the money itself doesn’t hinder the Phillies from making other moves, but what it does is keep an old lineup old. When they made the decisions to keep guys like Utley and Rollins and keep them around, plus sign Marlon Byrd, they should have gone younger. They now have five regulars 33 or older!
CS, 3:01pm: Dioner Navarro is an interesting name. He was the unheralded, less expensive option for the Phillies, but it’s pretty reactionary — not by you, by everyone who clamored for him — to just assume he’ll be a valuable full-time catcher moving forward. Navarro hit .300 with an .856 OPS last year, and went 20-for-69 the year before, but in the three seasons prior he hit .207 with a .267 OBP.
All of that to illustrate this point: Any other option at catcher wouldn’t have been the long-term solution. You’d still find yourself in position to develop the next catcher, and Ruiz’s three-year deal doesn’t prevent that. It just gives the Phillies the best defensive catcher on the market, and the one they’re most comfortable with, to stem the tide.
Yeah, the lineup’s old. And there’s a good chance this team fails to deliver in 2014 because of injuries or continued declines from Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. But the fact that you’ve already signed players to those deals isn’t a reason to NOT sign Ruiz. All things considered, this won’t be a negative in 2014. It might be a negative in 2016 if Ruiz can’t play … but seriously, how many free-agent deals work out for the entirety of the contract? Ten percent?
PG, 3:45pm: It’s true, Navarro might be reactionary. But isn’t Amaro giving Ruiz a third guaranteed year THE most reactionary thing that could have happened? The Red Sox and Rockies helped drive the price up and the Phillies bought it.
Again, I don’t have a problem with the player. And really, the money for a person/player of Ruiz’s caliber is likely fair in this ridiculous free agent market. The problem I have is the reluctance to move on and the reluctance of the organization to realize this is going nowhere fast. At some point you just have to let these guys go (one of them at least, right?) and try to get younger and cheaper and hope for the best.
I’m hoping that I’m wrong and that Chooch gives you two solid seasons and perhaps a third. But that’s certainly far from a given. He’s being paid the 4th highest AAV for a catcher in the majors. However, there have only been 33 instances of a catcher playing 120 or more games in a season at age 35 or older. They’re paying a lot of money to hope that he will hold up when few catchers before him have done so.