Despite drawing interest from many of the usual suspects — Red Sox, Rangers, Phillies, Giants, Mariners and Yankees — this offseason, it was the Arizona Diamondbacks who surprisingly emerged from the pack to sign veteran outfielder Cody Ross to a three-year, $26 million deal on Saturday.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News was the first to report a deal had been reached a little after noon on the East Coast. MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden later revealed the terms, which include a club option for 2016 that can be bought out for $1 million.
The signing represents quite a pay raise for Ross, who earned just $3 million while posting a solid 267/.326/.481 line for the Boston Red Sox in 2012. Those numbers are all right in line with his career averages. He also added 22 homers, 34 doubles, 81 RBIs, which are the second-highest totals in each category in his nine-year career.
Excellent production to be sure from the soon to be — as in Sunday — 32-year-old, but when you look closer at the numbers you'll find most of that damage came at Fenway Park (.298, 13 homers, 25 doubles and 49 RBIs). That's not to suggest he can't be equally productive hitting in another hitter-friendly park such as Chase Field, but it certainly is meant to suggest around $9 million a year over three is a risky commitment.
And perhaps an unnecessary one according to the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro.
Remember when the Dbacks had a slew of OFs but still gave a veteran a three-year deal? Can't help but think of Eric Byrnes today.
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) December 22, 2012
With that retweeted, it's almost definite there's something bigger being planned here by general manager Kevin Towers, as we've heard rumors all offseason about him looking to trade another outfielder — Chris Young was moved during the season — to add depth elsewhere even before signing Ross. As it stands now, that outfield mix includes veterans Ross, Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Eric Hinkse, to go along with highly regarded prospects Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollack.
Trading a corner outfielder — more likely to be Kubel than Upton according to several reports — and giving left field to Ross would seem to make the most sense under the new the circumstances, but Ross can also be an option in center if they decide Eaton and Pollack aren't ready. Apparently that defensive versatility held quite a bit of value with them.
Regardless of who they make available via trade, we know there won't be any shortage of suitors, including those teams who were heavily involved on Ross. That indicates Arizona is likely to do well in whatever deal it ultimately makes, but I think it'll still take a while to figure out why the D'backs committed so much money to Ross when it wasn't a need and when they've already invested in Heath Bell (taking on his remaining $13 million in trade with Miami) and Brandon McCarthy (two years, $15.5 million).
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