ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 30: Closing Pitcher Jason Motte of the St. Louis Cardinals enters Busch Stadium during the World Series victory parade on October 30, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images)
Sure, this is close enough to news—the Cardinals are currently in salary arbitration with Jason Motte, and Joe Strauss tweeted yesterday that a multi-year deal is a possibility. I hadn't thought about it until the news broke, but it immediately sounded plausible, however confused I still am about the Cardinals' feelings on their bullpen. His strikeout rate has never gotten quite as high as I thought it would be after that season in Memphis, but over three full years in the bullpen he's remade himself as a very peculiar kind of control pitcher: He's not Greg Maddux, but he's able to throw his fastball near enough the corners to dare hitters to do something about it.
This is an interesting deal to handicap, inasmuch as multi-year deals with relief pitchers can be interesting—both sides have leverage they'd be giving up by going more than one year at a time. Motte's giving up guy-with-saves money, though he's not a free agent until 2014, in exchange for his first multi-million dollar contract—no small consideration for a 30-year-old 19th-rounder and converted catcher. The Cardinals are giving up—well, the chance to dump Motte if he falls apart in his first shot at the closer's job.
I'm not sure there was ever a chance the Cardinals would do that in the first place, though—after scrounging up Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski and tendering a contract to Kyle McClellan I'm beginning to wonder whether John Mozeliak doesn't just have an Ed Wade-ian love for relief pitchers who've spent time in the major leagues.
As habits go his seems cheap—and less frustrating than the parade of tiny middle infielders I was mostly willing to overlook while Tony La Russa had some say in the roster. If it is a tic, signing Jason Motte to a multi-year deal a year after he ran his K:BB ratio to nearly four to one is one of the more benign ways it could manifest itself.
Meanwhile: Remember when Prince Fielder turned down a $100 million offer to remain a Brewer for life? Now that the Rangers have settled on Yu Darvish (six years, $60 million, on top of their $51 million posting fee) the Scott Boras schadenfreude has reached all-time highs, although it sounds like nobody's going to panic until the Washington Nationals remember they owe Jayson Werth $21 million in 2017.
It's just a terrible year to be a first baseman who isn't as good as Albert Pujols—the market for people who want to make a big statement with a guy at the wrong end of the defensive spectrum is completely stacked. Adrian Gonzalez, a more mobile, more consistent version of Prince Fielder, has stopped up the Red Sox; Mark Teixeira has been ruining hot stove league talk at $20 million a year since 2009; Ryan Howard has the deal Fielder wishes he could get from the richest team in the NL.
If I were Fielder's agent—even if I weren't Scott Boras—I'd be reluctant to take one of the short-term "make-good" deals fans of almost-contending teams are fantasizing about no matter how weak the market. But it was a rough year, as it turns out, to be Prince Fielder.