Free Agent shortstop and former Detroit Tiger Jhonny Peralta signed with the St. Louis Cardinals today for 4 years/$53 million. The deal on the surface seems reasonable considering how desperate the Cardinals were for a shortstop. However, the deal has become of note in the baseball world because of how lucrative the deal is taking into account that Peralta was just suspended 50 games last season for using steroids. This deal has nothing to do with the A’s, but it does affect them in two different ways; the steroid/contract aspect and the shortstop market.
Tackling the first issue of the player who used P.E.D.’s and getting a lucrative contract, Peralta’s new contract with the Cardinals and the public backlash that has come alongside it could affect the A’s in one glaring way. That one way is the now much beloved Bartolo Colon. The A’s are looking to resign Colon to another one-year deal. With the way he pitched last season there is no doubt in my mind Colon will get a bigger contract going into 2014. Colon was suspended in 2012 for a positive steroid test and there was some backlash, but not enough to create a whirlwind. With Peralta’s deal causing such a firestorm of distaste amongst the baseball community Colon’s next contract could come under fire as well. That could see the A’s in the middle of yet another negative public appearance. “Any press is good press” does not necessarily hold true in all situations, and I think this is one of them. The A’s should still try and sign Colon, but maybe wait until the Peralta storm dissipates.
The second issue that could end up being a positive for the A’s is the AAV (average annual value) of Peralta’s contract, which is around $13.25 million a season, and the length of his contract as well, 4 years. The A’s have an abundance of infielders, including arguably the most valuable Jed Lowrie. The shortstop pool has gotten smaller with Peralta’s signing. The best free agent shortstop left is Stephen Drew who is a Scott Boras client meaning he will cost big time money (possibly even more than Peralta). That type of cost for a shortstop is necessary in today’s MLB due to lack of depth. This could lead to teams inquiring about the A’s depth at the shortstop position. Jed Lowrie (who would have been the best or second best free agent shortstop) is under contract for another two seasons using arbitration and is coming off his first full healthy season of his career. This was noticeable in his huge numbers. His value is at his highest and it’s a seller’s market putting the A’s in the driver seat.
Peralta’s signing had nothing to do with the A’s, and yet it could affect them tremendously. Their public image could take a hit if they resign Bartolo Colon. They could trade Jed Lowrie and get a huge package of young controllable players in return (something we’ve seen GM Billy Beane do on more than one occasion). Both of these things, if they happen, could cause a major shakeup in the A’s offseason plans.