The Phillies won the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, there’s no doubt about it. Philadelphia secured the deal the Yankees so desperately wanted, and the course of an entire offseason was changed by that very fact.
But a five-year deal with a 32-year-old pitcher is risky. Lee won the Cy Young award three years ago, but four years ago he had a 6.29 ERA and a losing record. Performance varies. Injuries happen.
Every contract is a risk.
This morning, Kevin wrote about choosing wisely in building a bullpen. There are times when it’s clearly better to give young, cheap pitchers a job, and there are times when it’s clearly better to commit money to proven veterans.
Problem is, we rarely know which is right and which is wrong until the very end.
We won’t know the full impact of Derek Jeter’s current contract until 2014, but we can safely look back at his previous 10-year deal and say that his was one of the rare long-term contracts that never became a significant drain on the franchise. CC Sabathia’s deal is shaping up the same way, but that’s two years into a seven-year deal. Far too early to pass a final judgment.
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett are all coming off seasons that made their contracts look questionable at best. Damaso Marte’s three year deal has proven to be a mistake. Carl Pavano’s previous Yankees deal worked out so badly it was difficult to imagine him coming back to the Bronx, even when he was clearly the best starting pitcher left on the market.
Will Rafael Soriano be worth three years and $35 million? Maybe. He certainly has a track record of success, but that track record comes with a few injury concern. Right now, not one of us knows whether that signing was a good deal or a bad deal.
What could be more interesting is learning how the Yankees plan to move forward with two of their own. Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain reached arbitration this winter, meaning it’s a matter of time before the Yankees make long-term decisions about two of the best arms they’ve developed in the past 10 years.