Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Will Alfredo Amezega Land a Multi Year Contract?

On Monday, I profiled some non tenders that could command multi year contracts. Well, we might have a surprising name to add to the list: Alfredo Amezaga.

Because Amezaga is recovering from microfracture surgery to his left knee, the Marlins felt it was too risky to tender him a contract at Saturday's midnight ET deadline. A natural middle infielder who is an above average defensive center fielder, Amezaga made $1.3 million this past year, appearing in just 27 games.

With Amezaga entering his final season of arbitration, the Marlins were looking at paying him at least what he made this past year. Florida's hope is to sign Amezaga back at a lower salary, or just above $1 million.

Chances of that happening might be diminished because the money-strapped organization isn't in position to win a bidding battling.

"Between midnight [Saturday] and 2 a.m., I didn't get off the phone," Nicotera said. "There is an understanding with the Marlins that we would get a sense of the interest level in Alfredo from other clubs."

One of the top utility players in the league, Amezaga is an attractive
option for clubs because he is a switch-hitter and he can play so many different positions at a high level.
There would seem to be a significant amount of risk involved in offering Amezaga a multi year contract because he is coming off an injury plagued 2009 season in which he played in only 27 games. Amezaga underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee and it remains to be seen how he will recover from the surgery.

However, there is much more upside to signing Alfredo Amezaga than any common statistic can show. Aside from being a nice hitter and a quality defensive player all over the diamond, Amezaga is the premier team player. If you watched Marlins games over the past few seasons, what you saw in virtually every game was Alfredo Amezaga having a great time and chatting it up with every person on the field with a pulse. In short, Amezaga is a joy to watch and seems to be a joy to be around. And by all accounts, Amezaga is a great clubhouse guy and a fantastic leader, which instantly makes him a valuable commodity.

And from a baseball perspective, Amezaga can do just about everything and gives the manager tons of flexibility. In the past, Amezaga has demonstrated the ability to bunt, steal bases, put the bat on the ball (rarely strikes out), and play above average defense at SEVEN (yes, seven) positions. Amezaga is valuable in the American League, where a healthy Amezaga would enable teams to feel confident carrying an extra pitcher because of his strong versatility. Even in the National League, Amezaga is extremely valuable in the National League as well because his versatility makes it easy for managers to make double switches and insert him into the game.

So will Amezaga land a two year deal? Probably not. I believe that teams will want Amezaga to prove that he's healthy before they commit to him for more than one year. But if I'm Amezaga's agent, I have to feel confident that Amezaga will land a nice contract because so many teams are interested in his services (at least 10) and his versatility is a unique trait that can help so many teams around baseball. Alfredo Amezaga may be just an average hitter and a guy who will never be a starter on a winning baseball team, but make no mistake about, this guy is a valuable commodity to have around for so many reasons.

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