I know that it’s a bit early to be speculating on possible 2011 free agent destinations, especially with certain monster sports stories taking up so much of the airwaves. But I’m sorry, I just have to talk about something other than Jermaine Dye and Jarrod Washburn still being free agents. However, after my posts on Jayson Werth (Monday) and David DeJesus (Wednesday), I have realized that something big is brewing in the coming off-season of baseball free agency. Something that will radically alter the way we think of how free agents conduct themselves from now on. You see, I think some players are going to make a joint Decision that will lead to a stacked outfield in one lucky city.
The Rays’ Carl Crawford is probably going to be the most sought-after free agent outfielder this winter. He has the most diverse set of skills, and won’t even be 30. But as he learned in 2008, he can’t win a championship all by himself. That’s where Werth, the second best free agent outfielder, comes in. He has that essential “championship experience” (a ring!) from 2008 with the Phillies that Crawford is “missing.” But they need a third player to complete their Death Tripod. It doesn’t have to be a player on their level, but someone who is definitely good, someone underrated, someone who will be a free agent this offseason. Someone like David DeJesus. Yes, I did write in my DeJesus post on Wednesday that if the Royals did (foolishly) decline his option and offer him arbitration that he would be likely to take it, but others seem to think he’s valuable enough that he would turn down arbitration to check his value on the market, with others making oblique Carlos Beltran (~!) references. Hey, what do I know? All I know is that it makes sense: these three are going to (if they haven’t already!) collectively decide to be on the same team next season. Sure, none of them is really a point g– I mean center fielder, but all of them have played it a bit at some point in their careers, and it would still be a plus defensive outfield overall.
But where would they sign? I think the obvious starting point is that is will be in a state known for its rich MLB tradition: Florida. But how to decide between two teams with such a rich legacies? Let me lay out the two most likely scenarios.
Scenario #1: All three meet in Miami. Isn’t it obvious? Sure, the Marlins have some okayish young outfield prospects, but they can trade those away for veteran pitching for the back of the rotation and middle relief. Some might doubt that the Marlins will open up their wallets after all these years (especially given all the draft picks they’d have to give up to sign these guys), but with a new stadium coming soon, a man of integrity like Jeffrey Loria isn’t just going to pocket the profits, right? It will be bitterly disappointing for Tampa Bay fans to watch homegrown superstar Carl Crawford play in the same, baseball-crazed state, but he will assuage their anger during his hour long special on the MLB network (hosted by Harold Reynolds) announcing his Decision to sign with the Marlins.
Scenario #2: Tampa Bay shocks the world by retaining Carl Crawford by essentially bribing him to stay by bringing in longtime friends Werth and DeJesus. Yes, Tampa Bay has a pretty small payroll, but these guys are willing to take less to win championships. Desmond Jennings obviously needs three or four more years to work on his “approach” in the minor leagues (they can always try to convert him to a catcher), and B. J. Upton needs to be non-tendered to teach him a lesson about “attitude.” The only snag is the potential rioting in Kansas City after DeJesus announces his Decision via a 15 minutes infomercial on public access cable.
Which scenario do you think is more likely? Is there another possible destination for the Outfield of Doom?