The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly inked John Buck to a one-year, $2 million contract. While Toronto’s shopping may not be done at catcher, Buck is virtually certain to open the season as the starter.
Why did the ex-Royal leave town? Why, because of Jason Kendall. Kendall is the new starting catcher for the Royals on a two-year, $6 million deal.
Moore then went on to say that the two best options on the free agent market were Kendall and Ivan Rodriguez — both of whom signed equally stupid deals to “mentor” their young pitching and catching. While I can understand this sentiment to some degree, there’s still no excuse for the contract handed out to Kendall. The fact that Kendall demanded the same contract Rodriguez did is laughable: while Rodriguez’s contract in its own right is lousy, Kendall never did and never will be considered a contemporary of Rodriguez. It’s a massive concept failure by the Kansas City brass. Have we come to accept anything less?
I will give credit where credit is due: Moore showed some forethought in this contract. Whether or not you agree Kendall is the choice, they were motivated to hand out a two-year deal because they didn’t like the options on the free agent market next year. (Dream on, Royals fans: The odds Mauer would go to K.C. was below zero.) By guaranteeing that second year to Kendall, the club ensured his services this year, while not compromising — in their view — 2011. The two-year commitment, in a vacuum, shows that there is at least some intelligence brewing in Kauffman Stadium. (I’m aware of the counter-argument that just because you need a two-year window at catcher doesn’t mean you should hand out two years willy-nilly. I fully agree, but the Royals’ ability to get Kendall on a one-year deal was in question.)
One other note. The main thrust of Moore’s argument that Kendall would be cheaper than Buck or other options seems based on the fact that prior to the I-Rod signing, the club was hopeful at getting Kendall at $4 million or less over the next two years. Okay, I get the sentiment. But where’s the follow-through? Once Kendall’s price tag rose, Dayton Moore should have stepped back and re-evaluated the catcher’s market.
Take Yorvit Torrealba, for instance. Given the rumors surrounding Torrealba, Kansas City would have been able to sign him to a two-year, $6 million deal without much of a problem. Is he a better bet to outproduce Kendall over the next two seasons? Absolutely. The only way Kendall is going to hit a double (and let’s not even bother considering the possibility of a home run) is if he hits a bloop single that clanks off Matt Holliday‘s poor, abused crotch and skips to the wall. Oh, but that ever-important mentoring business: as a Boston fan born and bred, I especially understand the power of this argument given Jason Varitek — and I understand it. But really, is the mentoring aspect that significant with Kendall to disqualify Torrealba? (Even Boston moved on from Varitek as soon as an acceptable replacement was found.)
If he still preferred Kendall to Torrealba, I’d bet dollars to donuts Kendall eventually would have settled for two years at $4 million… or even a one-year deal. Sigh.
The logic Moore entered his catching situation about seeking out a catcher who could remain for two years and mentor the young pitchers and catchers is sound. Where this all breaks down is Moore’s valuation of those traits in addition to his valuation of Kendall.
But hey, at least Moore signed someone who knows the value of taking a walk. Took him long enough to.