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Buster Olney with some contract talk

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Buster Olney has some discussion of the Yanks change of heart regarding Alex Rodriguez, and their desire to bring him back (regardless of what happens in the playoffs):

A-Rod is the biggest bauble in the game now, and the Yankees want to keep him. They are going to make him an enormous contract extension, in all likelihood, if he is willing to talk with them rather than opting out of his current contract. If some other team wants to outbid the Yankees, they might have to beat an offer for something in the vicinity of eight years and $240 million -- a five-year extension, on top of the three years still owed to Rodriguez.

Geez. If the Yanks are willing to offer $30 million per year for 8 years, I'm not so sure ARod will opt out. But if he does, I'm assuming it is because Boras thinks he can make ARod the first $300 million man.

Yesterday, meanwhile, Olney addressed the centerfield market this offseason:

The Braves are under the impression that Andruw Jones wants $20 million a year, and Torii Hunter could be looking for a deal around $75 million. Rowand, on the other hand, could generate a deal for something in the Gary Matthews/Juan Pierre $50 million neighborhood, after having a strong season for the Phillies.

Hunter is supposedly looking for a deal around 5 years, $75 million, and the way the market has been going, I am expecting him to get something similar to Carlos Lee's 6 year, $100 million contract.

The idea of getting Rowand for GMJ money is enticing, but the more I look at his defensive numbers, the more convinced I become that his defensive performance doesn't match his defensive reputation. And if Rowand isn't giving you above-average defense in centerfield, he's not a $10 million per year player.

Of late, I've seen some folks advocating signing both Hunter and Rowand, with the idea being that you would play Hunter in centerfield and Rowand in right field. That would be, I think, a really bad idea...neither player hits enough to be a top-notch right fielder, and neither is really a legit middle-of-the-order hitter. That means you are going to be paying something like $45 million per year -- over half your payroll, most likely -- to a 3-4-5 combo of Young, Hunter and Rowand which would give you about as weak a middle of the order as you're going to find in the league.

And Hunter and Rowand can only be cost justified by them playing in centerfield. If you have one of them in right field, you are paying $10-15 million per year for a great defensive right fielder who is, at best, an average offensive player.

And of course, Hunter is 32, and shouldn't be expected to keep playing as well as he current is for the next 5-6 years. Rowand is only 30, but his Erstadian/Greeresque play in the field has led to injury issues, and a concern that his body won't hold up, long-term.

The more I think about it, the more I think the Rangers should try to address centerfield via trade -- targeting someone along the lines of Michael Bourn, David DeJesus, Coco Crisp, or Willy Taveras. Bourn and DeJesus are better all-around players, and are likely to be more expensive in terms of prospects. Crisp has been a disappointment with the bat the past two years, but has been very good defensively this season, and the BoSox are just wanting to move him (and his contract) to make room for Jacoby Ellsbury. Similarly, Taveras is an iffy guy with the bat, but is a top-notch defensive centerfielder who may not have a place to play in Colorado in 2008.

Otherwise, of the free agents, I'd look to Mike Cameron (of course), who could be snagged on a 2-3 year deal, who is still a quality defensive centerfielder, and who has always hit well in TBIA.