Appreciating ChiSox GM Williams, best winter contracts, more (cont.)
His trades this winter already look better than when he made them, as offloading $44 million in contracts (both Javier Vazquez and Nick Swisher have $22 million remaining) seems prescient now in these brutal economic conditions. The Swisher trade saved them $4 million for 2009, which was exactly the signing bonus they gave hotshot 20-year-old Cuban import Dayan Viciedo, who's already ready to hit in the bigs.
Swisher hit .219 last year, but the stat people say he was especially unlucky. The Sox don't seem so sure, as one other Sox person said, "We would have traded Swisher for a bag of balls."
Williams would only say Swisher didn't fit into the plans. In any case, neither of those players would now bring the haul that Williams got. He loves powerful Tyler Flowers, who came in a four-prospect package for Vazquez, and young pitchers Marquez and Jhonny Nunez, who came for Swisher.
When Williams picked up Danks and Floyd, those deals were widely panned. When he got Ramirez, it received little notice. And he was the only one talking up Quentin when he got him from Arizona last winter.
Quentin was on his way to an MVP season when a self-inflicted injury killed his chances. (And probably hurt the White Sox's chances.) Though Williams isn't making any excuses. "The fact of the matter is, we went to Tampa [for the Division Series] and couldn't get it done," he said. "So, start over."
And start with less. Williams trimmed the payroll by about $15 million, and with three positional questions plus veterans Contreras and Colon likely manning the Nos. 4 and 5 spots in the rotation.
The future looks secure to Williams. But he surely isn't giving up on now, either. Rebuilding, remarks a colleague, "just isn't in Kenny's DNA."
While others see a rebuilding, last-place team, Williams sees another surprising Sox squad.
Best winter contracts: The Lucky 13
Williams was relieved that Type A free-agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera finally signed, meaning the White Sox get two draft choices. In this tight market Cabrera was squeezed to $4 million since teams don't want to surrender draft choices, and his new A's contract contains a stipulation disallowing Oakland from offering arbitration should be remain a Type A free agent.
All in all, with the economy tanking and a greater emphasis on draft choices, agents had to endure a negotiating minefield this winter, when the market took a turn south about midway into it. The ones who got their players signed soonest generally did the best.
Here's a look at the best contracts, and best agenting jobs of the winter ...
1. Edgar Renteria, Giants, $18.5 million, two years.
2. A.J. Burnett, Yankees, $82.5 million, five years.
3. Derek Lowe, Braves, $60 million, four years.
4. Carl Pavano, Indians, $1.5 million guaranteed, plus $5.3 million in incentives, one year.
5. Willy Taveras, Reds, $6.7 million, two years.
6. Kyle Farnsworth, Royals, $9.5 million, two years.
7. Mark Teixeira, Yankees, $180 million, eight years.
8. CC Sabathia, Yankees, $161 million, seven years.
9. Raul Ibanez, Phillies, $31.5 million, three years.
10. Willie Bloomquist, Royals, $3 million, two years.
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