Mariners Analysis

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why wouldn't Bavasi go after Zito?

We hear there is still some thought in the FO to looking into Zito as they attempt to turn this dreadful offseason into something semi-positive. There appears to be a few obstacles:
  • Money- it's not clear the M's have enough money to sign him given their budget
  • Location- no one is sure Zito will actually choose Seattle over NY, San Fran or a major city
  • Risk- will the M's give out a 6 year contract?
Let's look at these obstacles from Bavasi's point of view.

Money- the M's look to have around $5 million remaining (hard to say when they won't reveal a budget). By trading Broussard and some creative accounting, they could free up $9 million fairly easily. By backloading Zito's contract, he could easily sign him to a 6 yr deal, and still get him this year for under $10 million. I doubt Boras would have a real problem with this.

Location- if Zito was 100% sold on location, he would have already closed a deal with the Mets. We saw how Boras works with Beltre- you meet his demands, you get the man. If the Mariners work with Boras, they can overcome location. I'm sure Zito understands there are pluses/minuses to big cities and monster contracts. Bavasi shouldn't be overly concerned on this until he hears the agent tell him he is no longer in the game.

Risk- Bavasi is on a one year leash. There is no reason he should care what the team will do 6 years from now. Zito has never been on the DL, and presents a reasonable case for a longer term contract that almost any other pitcher.

Since Bavasi is on the hot seat, and having a horrible winter by his own words, why the hesitation? If you were going to be put under a win-now mandate, wouldn't you want the best team possible behind you so you can at least give it your best shot? There is no way the M's aren't better with Zito on the team.

BTW- I'm not arguing here the M's should give Zito anything he wants. I'm just arguing I don't understand why Bavasi doesn't want Zito at any cost.

An argument has been offered the M's don't want to be used as a pawn to get more money from a different team. This is silly for several reasons. First, you want to make your opponents pay more. Are you playing to win, or playing to win "Easiest GM to deal with" awards? Anything that reduces available money for your opponents is good. Second, as we saw with Beltre, Boras doesn't mess around when he gets what he wants. Bavasi has shown he can deal with Boras before, so why be so afraid to even talk to him?

In short, I doubt there is much chance the M's land Zito. But I don't understand why Bavasi isn't trying harder than it appears.