Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the era of the one-year contract. The effects of the slumping economy have seemingly reached every aspect of American life, not excluding the National Past Time, wherein financial troubles have led to a rise in short-term, incentive-laden contracts (See Derrick Turnbow).
This brings us to another former Milwaukee Brewer, starting pitcher Ben Sheets. The Texas Rangers are the only team who has vocally expressed interest in the embattled starter (Though word on the street also has the Mets as contenders). The right-hander is a four-time all-star and, when healthy, can be dominant at the front of a rotation. However, Sheets has been maligned by arm troubles throughout his career, making five trips to the disabled list in four years; after a strong start to 2008, he missed the playoffs due to a torn tendon in his right elbow.
At best, Sheets could provide the Rangers with a true ace (of which they have been bereft for quite a while). At worst (assuming Sheets comes to Texas), Texas would be stuck with a whale of a contract and a pitcher with a sore right arm.
Throughout this offseason, the Rangers have been unable to come to terms with the thirty year-old due to a disagreement on the terms of the potential deal; Sheets wants a multi-year contract, the Rangers want a one-year deal with a club option.
Given the Rangers’ history with starting pitching, some reticence is understandable. Being saddled with another expensive, hurt pitcher is an admittedly frightening concept for Rangers fans; however, as opening day approaches, the Rangers seem to remain Sheets’ most eligible suitor. The club’s stance was aided this week, surprisingly, by none other than the New York Yankees.
The Yankees signed Andy Pettite to a one-year deal this week worth $5.5 million and laced with performance-related incentives. While Pettite is significantly older than Sheets, the low-risk, high-reward deal could set an important precedent with regards to the free agent market. Namely, this is the kind of contract that could land Sheets in Rangers’ blue and red in 2009.
The caution with which the club has approached Sheets could be a sign of some much needed front-office maturation. The bitter Rangers’ fan will quickly point out the five-year $65 million dollar albatross that was Chan Ho Park. Park only lasted two years in the band-box that is Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Connecting you to your favorite North Texas sports teams as well as sports news around the globe.
The Jon Daniels regime, however, seems determined to avoid such disasters. Any deal that will be completed in this market, it seems, will involve some degree of acquiescence on behalf of Sheets’ camp. If no concessions are made, however, it is unlikely that Sheets will be in a Rangers uniform next season.