In December of 2005, Allard Baird signed Mark Grudzielanek to a one-year, $4 million dollar contract, with a player option for 2007. Grudzielanek's arrival was announced the same morning that Allard's other treasures -- Doug Mientkiewicz, Paul Bako and Scott Elarton were announced -- producing surely one of the lamest mass free agency sprees of all time. And yes, four years later, I more or less now know how to spell each guy's name.
Grudz's player option for 2007 ($3 million) was set to vest after 500 2006 PAs, which he ended up easily reaching. Of course, win-now Dayton Moore took over during the 2006 season, and rather than trading Grudzielanek, instead tore up his existing contract, gave him a raise for 2007 ($4 million) and threw in an option for 2008. Instead of spending one season, or less, with Kansas City, he spent three.The first or second Grudzielanek contracts were not bad deals for the Royals. In those three seasons he was valuable both in the field and at the plate, and he posted a cumulative 7.0 WAR, making him well worth his salary. While the speculations of this basement-dwelling blogger aren't worth much, it's hard to believe that the Royals couldn't have gotten something for Mark Grudzielanek in 2006. Or in 2007. Or, catch this, in 2008. (As far as I can tell, he did not have a no-trade clause, and if he did, he certainly shouldn't have been given one.)
- He was an extremely consistent player.
- He played a tough to fill, and field, defensive position acceptably.
- He was a good hitter.
- He had a solid reputation as a "gamer"/"good clubhouse guy". Including extensive time on playoff teams.
- He had a reasonable contract.
But as we know, the Royals never traded him. Not at the deadline, not during the off-season. Never. In a thousand years, people will look back and wonder at the oddity that was his solid, yet essentially pointless, three-year run with the Royals.
This strange stasis reached its poetic peak in 2008, after the Royals had elected not to trade Grudzielanek a third time, even though he was now clearly not even part of the immediate future. On August 1st, the first game after the deadline, Grudzielanek injured himself ,and never played for the Royals again. Perfect.
Still, the Royals did the reasonable thing and offered Grudzielanek arbitration this off-season, which he, for some reason, declined. When the owners colluded, err, "dealt with the new economic environment", he was left standing in the cold. The Royals waited for him to be signed, set to snag a compensatory pick if he did so. They waited. They waited. They waited.
Then, a month too late and for too little money to matter, Grudz did sign, a minor league deal with Minnesota. No supplemental pick.
May we always remember him.