Brad Lidge was available for $1 million. One million. It's enough to make every other team other than the Washington Nationals shake their heads. And if it doesn't, then it definitely should.
Let's compare two deals. Lidge just signed for one-year at $1 million with the Nats. The Kansas City Royals struck a deal with Jonathan Broxton for one year at $4 million. To keep things quite simple, the mathematical equation would read: Brad Lidge x 4 = Jonathan Broxton.
Two dominant relievers over the last few seasons in the National League. Two pitchers coming off of seasons riddled and ruined by injuries. Both are similar projects hoping to bounce back with one-year deals before hitting the market for another big closer-type of payday. One just happened to cost four times than the other.
Now, that's not to fault the Royals. They struck early and that's what the market dictated at that time. You could argue that the Royals should have waited, but they didn't and Broxton should be a fine addition to the pen that could use another veteran arm with the loss of Aaron Crow to the starting rotation. Plus a young pen that was overburdened last season will undoubtedly find some arms that fail to realize last season's success.
So this isn't so much a slight on the Royals signing of Broxton as it an object lesson in the beauty of waiting. Every year there are numerous veterans waiting on the late minute call before spring training as agents work the phones to get their guys into camp with someone. Lidge was one such guy and settled for another NL East destination for a middle relief spot at a cool million.
R.J. Anderson writes about Lidge's predicament and asks, "Did anyone, anyone at all, realize that Lidge’s earned run average over the past two seasons sits at 2.49? Probably not, and for good reason: Lidge missed most of the 2011 season with a shoulder strain. Upon return, Lidge brought his usual strikeout rates (albeit with an extra helping of walks) but lacked his trademark velocity. Instead, his average fastball sat below 90 miles per hour, which sent his slider usage through the roof."
Perhaps Broxton exhibited better health than Lidge. At the very least, however, Lidge did come back at season's end to show positive contributions from the pen. That's something Broxton cannot claim.
The saying reads, "The best things come to those who wait." Fan bases and some front offices are ruled by impatience. Local sports media are all over their teams to make a move -- now! -- in the name of fixing last season's problems. But here lies yet another example of letting a market settle before filling a hole. A decent bet could be made on Lidge being one of the best bargains on the market by the end of 2012.