Dec 2, 2009, 1:55 PM EDT
Now that Billy Wagner has signed with the Braves we can fully assess just how masterfully general manager Theo Epstein and company handled his brief time in Boston from the Red Sox’s point of view.
Back in late August the Red Sox sent a pair of players to be named later to the Mets for Wagner, agreeing to assume $3.2 million in salary. Chris Carter and Eddie Lora turned out to be the PTBNLs, and while certainly not without value both are fairly marginal prospects.
However, because the Red Sox were able to take Wagner’s salary off the Mets’ hands and then made the correct decision to offer him arbitration, they now stand to receive the No. 19 overall pick and another selection between the first and second rounds in next June’s draft. So for $3.2 million and a pair of fungible minor leaguers the Red Sox are going to end up with 15 appearances of 1.98 ERA pitching from Wagner, the 19th overall pick, and a second-round pick.
The whole process is an example of why teams with big budgets have advantages that go beyond being able to hand out huge multi-year contracts. Most teams wouldn’t have had the payroll leeway to add $3.2 million in late August and many teams would have shied away from offering Wagner arbitration for fear that he’d accept and stick them with a big commitment for 2010. Boston had payroll room to add Wagner and no real worries about being stuck with a bill for 2010.
Along with some clever maneuvering by Epstein that basically allowed them to buy a pair of high draft picks, which a study by Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus determined to be worth around $12 million. Of course, having a big budget alone doesn’t mean everything, because the Mets have nearly as much cash to fling around as the Red Sox and simply failed to recognize (or care about) Wagner’s value as a source of draft picks. Instead they saved $3 million in cash and lost $12 million in draft picks.
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