Boston has every reason in the world to cherish the players from their 2013 World Champion Red Sox. But they didn't climb to the summit of the game because of camaraderie or veneration. As CEO Larry Lucchino recently suggested, "That's not the way to run the railroad."
The Red Sox took home their third championship since 2004 last season, and they did it with a litany of first-year contributors. It can be hard to watch fan favorites move on, no matter what his team's record was the year before. For the Sox, maintaining the roster from their impressive rise from worst to first could be pretty tempting -- but that's not always the best way to stay on top. Boston might not retain any of their major free agents (Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia) this offseason, and they will almost certainly not bring back all of those players.
GM Ben Cherington has some holes to fill, but he has a solid farm system to pull from and could target more high-reward, short-term bargains in free agency as he did last season.
Boston's World Series opponent, the St. Louis Cardinals, appear to be on the verge of a remodel of their own. Carlos Beltran is unlikely to return and the team might be starting just two players in the same defensive position next year. And of course, they haven't struggled to move on from franchise icon Albert Pujols.
These team's have shown that adaptation is a necessity in modern team-bulding.
But some teams don't move on so easily. Several organizations have already valued sentiment over utility.
In other words:
Over the last few months, several teams in baseball have re-signed players that have been great for their franchises...in the past. Valuing past performance is always going to be a he part of contract negotiations in sports, but overvaluing those contributions can be a hindrance to winning games in the future in some situations.
Players like Derek Jeter and Chase Utley have been almost unquantifiably important to their team's past success, but that doesn't mean they represent the teams most effective option during the lives of their new deals.
In addition to Utley, the Phillies re-upped with catcher Carlos Ruiz this offseason. Ruiz has been very good for Philladelphia, but the team had to guarantee him 3 years and $26M to keep the soon-to-be 35 year-old in town.
The Giants re-signed Tim Lincecum to a 2-year, $35M deal, but he's still relatively young at 29 and could bounce back to a performance level that would justify the contract -- plus his marketability in San Francisco might be enough to offset some of that deal.
The Kansas City Royals have a soft spot in their hearts for Carlos Beltran (he was originally drafted by KC in the '95 draft) and they have been rumored to be in the running for his services. Beltran is likely to ask for a three year deal that could range from $40M-$50M before all is said and done. This organization also has a strange weakness for the wily charms of veteran starter-turned-reliever Luke Hochevar, who, before 2013, was a total nightmare for the Royals after they selected him No. 1 overall in the 2006 draft.
These contracts aren't necessarily death sentences for their respective clubs, but they certainly don't look like the sort of deals the Cardinals and Red Sox have been drawing up. It should be interesting to see if this year's pet projects pan out or if Lucchino's comments will ring true throughout the 2014 season.
- Royals "process" and the jokes about it will continue with a two-year extension for Dayton Moore
- Twins making progress on deal with A.J. Pierzynski
- Twins agree to sign Phil Hughes to three-year, $24 million deal
- Yankees, Robinson Cano remain $100 million apart in talks
- Red Sox, Nationals, Rockies, Marlins, Pirates interested in Rafael Furcal
- Yankees remain favorite to sign Carlos Beltran
- Mets "heavily involved" in talks for Bronson Arroyo
- Cardinals flash more genius with Peralta's front-loaded contract