BP's Jonah Keri writes now for the New York Times.
When rumors surfaced that the Chicago Cubs had signed Alfonso Soriano to an eight-year, $136 million contract, reporters ran to General Manager Jim Hendry for confirmation. Were the Cubs really going to be that ... aggressive?
“We won 66 ballgames,” Hendry told them. “We darn sure better be aggressive.”
Why is it always "aggressive" to sign a top-quality player for a price set by the free agent market? I don't mean to sound like an agent, but good things cost good money for good reasons.
And you can't compare the "value" a team gets from players in their first six years vs. players on the free agency market. Those are two different pools. Baseball's union and ownership has created a two-tier caste system. Players have to do their time before they can make full citizenship and the salaries that come with it.
The Pirates are not going to win without good players. They do not have many good players right now. They can sit back and pooh-pooh the Cubs and Astros as being "aggressive" in an "inflated" market all they want, but they can't expect to win more games until they pay good money for good players.