Posted at 10:40 AM on July 20, 2007
by Steve Rudolph
Despite rumors that his days with the team were numbered, the Chicago White Sox signed ace Mark Buehrle to a four-year, $56 million contract before the All-Star break.
Last week, the Indians inked slugger Travis Hafner to a $57 million extension that will keep him in Cleveland through 2012.
Three days after he was named MVP of the All-Star game, the Seattle signed outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to a $90 deal locking him to the Mariners through 2012.
These three dramatic moves have shown me two things: (1) Everyday the Twins sit idle the price the team must pay to keep Torii Hunter and Johan Santana increases and (2) Avoiding contract negotiations during the season is a ill-fated approach.
I understand why teams often have a policy of not negotiating or talking about contracts once the season begins. They don’t want to create an off-field distraction that could hurt either the team or the individual’s performance should negotiations sour. But rules are meant to be broken.
What’s more distracting for the Twins, having Torii Hunter audition for his upcoming free agency in every American League city he visits or having Terry Ryan and Hunter’s agent (or Santana’s for that matter) negotiating quietly behind the scenes?
Doesn’t having a contract discussion with Hunter’s agent now actually improve the Twins’ position? If they determine that the cost of re-signing Hunter will break their bank, they can trade the All-Star before month’s end and get some prospects in return rather than allowing him to leave this winter when they’d only get a compensatory draft pick in return.
On the flip side, should they manage to sign Hunter before the July 31 trading deadline it would remove a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the team’s future and could spark the Twins in August and September.
Terry Ryan has given contract extensions to players during the season before (Dennis Reyes and Mike Redmond). Those both worked out well. Why stop now?