When healthy, Ben Sheets is one of the better pitchers in baseball, the problem is, obviously, that he is rarely healthy. Once again he will have to undergo elbow surgery and will miss the first half of ’09. But the former Brewer is in a unique situation. He’s a free agent.
The Texas Rangers stepped up with a two-year contract that Sheets and his agent agreed to pending a physical which obviously didn’t go well. The Rangers withdrew their offer and it is expected now that Sheets will not sign anywhere until he’s healthy.
Here’s why I think the Jays need to go after him now…
The Jays apparently had no interest in Sheets because they don’t have the finances to pursue him. Fair enough. Sheets was reportedly going to sign for 2-years at around $16-million with the Rangers, far out of the price range for the Jays to even consider him. But now things have changed.
We know that Sheets will be out until late June/early July at the earliest so I think the Jays should try and get Sheets now at a diminished price. All well and good, but how do you make Sheets want a deal? Here’s what I suggest:
You give Sheets a contract for 1-year at a guaranteed $750,000 but you lace it with incentives. If he starts 10 games in ’09, he gets an extra $1-million. If he starts 15 games in ’09, you give him an extra $1.75-million. If he starts 20 or more games, give him an extra $3-million. On top of that, if Sheets wins more than 10 games with the Jays in ’09, you throw on an extra $2-million. This means that if Sheets comes back around mid-season and starts more than 20 games down the stretch and wins more than 10, the deal could end up being worth $5.75-million. Not bad for a guy only pitching half the year who was looking for $8-million for a full, healthy season.
To sweeten the deal for both sides, add two option years; options for both 2010 and 2011 worth some guaranteed amount of money. Let’s say $7.5-million for 2010 and $9-million for 2011. The options would be for both parties at the end of both years. SO, if Sheets comes back and performs well, the two could agree to exercise their option for 2010. If he does well in 2010, they could bring him back for 2011. If Sheets feels like he could make more by going back on the market at any point, he could do just that. If Sheets can’t stay healthy and doesn’t end up pitching in ’09, the Jays have only spent $750,000 and will be free of him next fall. Win-win.
If Sheets made the maximum in incentives in ’09 and decided to come back on both his option years, the deal would end up being 3-years for $22.25-million…nothing to sneeze at in this market.
I’ll be expecting my phone call from Mr. Riccardi any day to thank me for this wonderful idea.