Critics of the Raul Ibanez signing argue that Ruben Amaro Jr. overreached before the market for corner outfielders came down. Can he make up for it by hanging back for bullpen help at a discount rate?
It’s different this winter. Relievers haven’t been earning big bucks, and they definitely haven’t been getting the guaranteed years. Last year, two relievers – Scott Linebrink and Francisco Cordero – earned four-year deals. This year, demand isn't there among the top spenders. Not a signal four-year pact was extended for relief help. Hell, even Francisco Rodriguez only received three years from the Mets, and Brian Fuentes, considered the next best, only got two from the Angels.
If you’re a Brewers fan, you have to like the one-year, $6M deal they just extended to career saves leader Trevor Hoffman, filling a huge area of need for a Milwaukee team looking to build on last season’s playoff berth. With a healthy Hoffman off the board, back-end relief is slowly drying up, but only at glacial speeds. The going rate seems to be two years or less for quality arms. The market is just right for the Phillies, who could look into a left-handed replacement for J.C. Romero; Joe Beimel, Brian Shouse, Will Ohman and Dennys Reyes are lefties who’re still without homes. Better still, early winter target Juan Cruz, along with Arizona teammate Brandon Lyon, are unemployed, representing perhaps the two best all-purpose relievers remaining on the market. I'd endorse that strategy; once Romero returned, they would be loaded.