Monday, November 17, 2008

Setting the Market

In case you missed it, the Giants signed Jeremy Affeldt to a 2 year/$8 million dollar contract today in an attempt to shore up their horrific middle relief. Affeldt is the first domino to fall this offseason, and this contract will ultimately set the bar for the other free agent middle relievers on the market.

My initial reaction is that this a fair deal for both sides involved. It is tough to project consistency amongst middle relievers and Affleldt is a perfect example how quickly middle relievers can fluctuate. Before 2007, Affleldt was a struggling spot starter/middle reliever who walked far too many hitters while striking out way too few. Before 2007, Affeldt only had one good season and seemed to be at a crossroads with his career.

But luckily for Affeldt, he is a lefty. Left handed pitchers, especially those who throw hard, will always find opportunities. That's just the way it is and the way it will be. Affeldt took advantage of his opportunities by pitching well for the Rockies in 2007 and pitching even better for the Reds in 2008. All of a sudden, Affleldt's control dramatically improved as his strikeout rate improved.

This contract works because the Giants are only committing 2 years and a small amount of money to a guy who really could stabilize the back end of their bullpen. Good to see that Brian Sabean has learned from the horrific 3 year deals given out to Rich Aurilia and Dave Roberts. For Affeldt, $4 mil per year is a good get as is the two years because hey, if he has two good seasons with Giants, he will be in line for an even bigger pay day. And who knows, Affeldt might even close a few times for the Giants...

For my money, I would have rather signed Affeldt instead of Damaso Marte. Younger, less money, fewer years. How will this deal effect Will Ohman and Joe Beimel? The $4 mil is a good starting point for each of their agents, but look for each to try for a contract longer than two years. It's a good time to be a competent left handed middle reliever.

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