More on how Guerrero deal got done
I had acknowledged Saturday, a day after the Orioles and Vladimir Guerrero agreed to terms on a one-year, $8 million deal pending a physical, that I couldn’t explain why, all of a sudden, the Orioles’ raised their offer from between $3 million and $5 million to $8 million when no other suitor for the free-agent slugger had publicly emerged.
I still don’t have all the answers, but I certainly feel a little more confident giving an explanation after talking to some people familiar with the process.
The Orioles’ top decision-makers, mainly owner Peter Angelos and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, wanted Guerrero. Guerrero wanted to get paid what he felt that he was worth, and wasn’t wavering.
The Orioles, who had already exceeded their targeted 2011 payroll, simply didn’t feel like they could accommodate Guerrero’s desired $8 million over this year. So the Orioles figured out a way to make it work. They deferred $3 million of the $8 million , meaning they’ll owe Guerrero $5 million this season. As for the remaining $3 million, it will be paid out in two installments down the road. And by down the road, I’m not talking about 2012-2013. The arrangement satisfied Guerrero, who will ultimately get his $8 million, and his agent Fern Cuza.
This practice is not unprecedented. The St. Louis Cardinals will pay outfielder Matt Holliday $2 million annually deferred from 2020 to 2029 in annual installments of $1.4 million or $1.6 million, depending on whether his option for 2017 vests or is exercised, according to the extremely useful website Cot’s Baseball contracts.
If you are fan of this move -- and most people appear to be, judging by the various reactions we’ve gotten -- credit Angelos and MacPhail for compromising and figuring out a way to get it done, which is what my colleague, Kevin Cowherd, wrote today. They obviously looked around at the rest of the DH market and weren’t terribly excited about giving Guerrero $8 million.
However, while no suitors had emerged publicly, there was always the fear from team officials that some teams would jump into the bidding the longer Guerrero stayed unemployed. And that fear was only heightened when reports started surfacing Friday that the Texas Rangers, the team Guerrero drove in 115 runs for in 2010, were in talks to trade designated hitter Michael Young. This is my opinion more than anything, but it doesn’t seem coincidental to me that the Guerrero deal with the Orioles was compromised on the same day reports became public that a Young trade could be imminent.
One more thing about Guerrero: His physical, which would make the deal official, has not been scheduled. It has been complicated by the fact that team officials and team doctors are heading to the team’s spring training complex this week in Sarasota, Fla., where pitchers and catchers report Sunday. At this point, the best guess is Guerrero takes his physical next week in Sarasota, and meets the media down there.
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