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Dolans Step It Up
Dolans Step It Up
After two consecutive off seasons of having money left in their pocket and a track record or letting free agents walk without compensation, many assumed Jake Westbrook might be destined for trade bait this July. Or, at the very least, a lame duck Indian until next winter. Jarad Regano admits he did. In his latest, he praises the Dolan regime for keeping one of their own, and making a preemptive strike towards C.C. Sabathia's pending free agency.
Extension of Westbrook Solidifies Rotation for Years to Come
After two consecutive off seasons of having money left in their pocket and a track record or letting free agents walk without compensation, many assumed Jake Westbrook might be destined for trade bait this July. Or, at the very least, a lame duck Indian until next winter. I know I did.
Indians ownership took any doubt away this week though, locking up Westbrook to the highest annualized contract in team history. Jake will be an Indian through 2010, joining core players Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee and Jhonny Peralta. All the aforementioned will be tribesmen for at least three more years.
With the recent free agent market overpriced, it was expected that Westbrook would command an eight-figure salary, but the length of the contract is a definite advantage to Indians ownership. The three-year deal should further enhance payroll flexibility. An early deal like this sometimes leaves some scratching their heads as to why a player would give up more money and years only six months away. Aside from an obvious comfort in Cleveland, Westbrook can now pitch the year knowing he has another $33 million in the bank. No injury can take that away.
Tribe fans should view today as the greatest moment of the Larry Dolan era to date, bar none. Locking up youngsters such as Sizemore, Lee, and Martinez were smart decisions, but the Westbrook extension represents the greatest monetary commitment to a player not under the team’s control. It should also represent a check in the “commitment to winning” column for the Dolans, an area I have been skeptical about over the past two years.
Some fans have come out of the woodwork to criticize the move as a precursor to the loss of C.C. Sabathia. This argument is completely illogical, as the Tribe has no chance to sign all three of their pending free agents. Waiting on C.C. could have led the team to losing two-fifths of their rotation by next year. They could not afford to do that.
Even though Travis Hafner and C.C. Sabathia’s situations are still unsettled, every Indian fan should acknowledge the meaning of this move and be optimistic for what it may mean for others in the future. The team now finds itself in a situation with perhaps the deepest one through seven starting rotations in baseball, and each one is locked up for a minimum of two more years. In addition, each one of those seven is being paid under market value for that period of time. This should leave the Indians in prime position to move one of them if and when a right-handed bat or dominant relief arm become available.
Friday was a great day for Cleveland baseball. A solid starter here for three more years. Ownership spending some cash. And, what do you know, an official game at Jacobs Field.
Apr 13, 2007 7:00 PM
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