Thanks to the big Yankees, Tigers, Diamondbacks trade, a few deals slipped through the crack that are worth noting. First, the Washington Nationals signed Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year deal believed to be worth a total of $5 million dollars. And second, the St. Louis Cardinals signed Brad Penny to a one-year deal worth at least $7 million, but could reach $9 million if he hits some incentives.
The signing of Pudge marks the second strange move of the winter meetings for the Nationals. It seems a little bit much to be giving the 38-year-old Rodriguez a guaranteed two-year deal at an annual salary of $2.5 million dollars. Catcher is some what of a question mark for the Nationals as promising starter, Jesus Flores, has yet to play over 90 games in a major league season. However, when healthy Flores should be the clear cut starter. Sure, Pudge is still a solid defensive catcher, and he brings "veteran presence," but paying $2.5 million dollars to a guy you're rather see a back-up seems like a waste of money.
Offensively, Rodriguez is a shell of the hitter he was in the late 90s and he hasn't had a .330 wOBA season since 2006. As for his mentor skills, his approach at the plate is not something you want your younger player to pick up on. He's earned less than 5.5% walks for five straight seasons and carried an O-Swing% around 40 the past three. Like Brian Bruney, it's not a terrible pick-up, but it's not something that really improves this team a whole lot.
The other deal that went down involved Brad Penny, who signs a one-year deal for the second straight offseason. However, unlike last season, he decided it was best to stick to the National League and that's probably the smartest thing for all parties involved. Like former teammate John Smoltz, Penny comes to the Cardinals after a disappointing half season or so with the Boston Red Sox that lead to his release, and ultimately a resurgence in the senior circuit.
You can easily make the argument that the Red Sox may have cut bait a little too soon with Penny as he was plagued by a high BABIP (.336) during his tenure in Beantown. However, you could make the same argument that his success in San Francisco was also do in part to a low BABIP (.211) and an unsustainable LOB% over 80% (SSS all the way around). I did notice that once he went bay side, Penny started throwing his change up, something he forgot to do in Boston. The slight change in pitch selection led to more ground balls, which makes him a perfect fit for Dave Duncan. Salary-wise, Penny should easily be worth the $7 million dollar tag, if not the entire potential $9 million. Even with a sub-par performance in Boston, he still earned a 2.0 WAR for his time there and a 2.5 overall for the season. He should be good for at least that in 2010, if not more, which puts his estimated value at over the $11 million mark.