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Chan Ho Plays Waiting Game, Loses

Posted By Bill Baer On February 22, 2010 @ 9:18 am In MLB,Philadelphia Phillies | 15 Comments

Early in the off-season, the Phillies offered Chan Ho Park a one-year, $3 million deal to pitch exclusively out of the bullpen. Park is represented by super agent Scott Boras [EDIT: No he's not; he's represented by Jeff Borris, whose last name sounds the same], so it was no surprise when the Phils’ offer was turned down. Park wanted to start and he thought he could get more money elsewhere.

[Cue the cliche "pages flying off of a page-a-day calendar"]

As the winter grew older, the phones of Park and Boras Borris stayed silent. The Phillies did not increase their offer or give him an incentive to re-sign by promising him the chance to win the #5 spot. Instead, the Phillies moved on and signed another pitcher in Park’s mold in Jose Contreras for one year and $1.5 million.

The Phillies were right to do so. Park hasn’t pitched effectively as a starter since 2001, the end of his first stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers. During his second stint, in ’08, the Dodgers used him as a reliever with great success. Park put up a 3.84 ERA in over 70 innings of work. Last year, after a horrible seven starts to open the season, the Phillies moved him back to the bullpen where he compiled a 2.52 ERA in 50 innings.

Park’s waiting game did not pay off. After generating just a faint buzz of interest, the Chicago Cubs pondered adding him to their revamped roster, even offering him the chance to start. The New York Yankees threw their hat in the ring, sans a promise to pitch out of the back of the starting rotation, and won the bidding war.

Yankees and Cubs… bidding war… Scott Boras… how much money is Chan Ho swimming in now?

$1.2 million, with an additional $300,000 available in incentives.

That would be $1.5-1.8 million less than the Phillies’ initial offer this winter, and Park won’t even be realizing his dream of starting again.

“I have chosen the Yankees,” Park said. “A prestigious team that can advance to the World Series again.”

For the second straight year, Park has signed with the defending World Series champions. Cue Dash Treyhorn of The Fightins:

Does he realize that he doesn’t get grandfathered in to the championship team?

Park is yet another example of why the waiting game, in this economy, isn’t beneficial. The following table shows the types of free agent contracts signed this off-season.

Pitchers % Hitters %
1 Year 12 71% 30 71%
2 Year 2 12% 7 17%
3 Year 2 12% 2 5%
4+ Year 1 6% 3 7%
TOTAL 17 42

Of the 59 total contracts signed, 42 have been one-year deals. Clearly the economy along with a shift in philosophy has contributed to lesser players finding themselves unable to strike gold in the free agent market.

After Matt Holliday and Jason Bay signed their multi-year deals on January 5, the largest free agent contract signed was that of Ben Sheets for one year and $10 million with the Oakland Athletics. Joel Pineiro was the only one, out of 26 players, to sign a multi-year deal in that span of time.

Once again, GM Ruben Amaro is vindicated by the market. Many of us Phillies fans were hoping he would simply bite the bullet and sign Chan Ho Park for $4-5 million, money the Phillies simply couldn’t afford with their self-imposed $140 million payroll benchmark. If Amaro had listened to us, he would have overpaid by three to four times what Park eventually signed for with the Yankees. In the meantime, he signed a pitcher with a similar skillset and more upside in Jose Contreras.

Well played, Rube.


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