I would characterize Dye as an aging, defensively challenged corner outfielder who can still mash. This year, there were three other players on the market who have that same skill set: Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, and Vladimir Guerrero. Let’s just quickly draw up the most relevant facts about each:
Dye – 35 years old, 793 OPS in 2009 & UZR was -20,
Abreu – 35 year old, 825 OPS in 2009 & UZR was -11 (signed for $19M/2 years)
Matsui – 35 years old, 876 OPS in 2009 & he really only played DH (signed for $6M/1 year)
Guerrero – 34 years old, 794 OPS in 2009 & her really only played DH (signed for $6.5M/1 year)
Dye has two characteristic that I thought made him more like Abreu than Matsui and Guerrero: he’s stayed healthy and he’s stayed in the outfield. The two are related, by the way. Both Matsui and Guerrero were just as shaky in the outfield as Dye, but what really moved them to DH is that they couldn’t stay healthy out there. Dye remains an option in the outfield, or at least he and his agent thought so.
But there aren’t huge differences between these guys, and I can understand and respect others opinions. I suspect it is the same in GM offices. They look at these four guys, and if they need that type of player, they give the offer to whichever one their gut tells them they like best.
Of course, that’s where an unconscious bias might play a role. “I’ve always like Guerrero’s makeup”, one assistant GM will say, and everyone else will nod. And for some reason, he didn’t say “I’ve always liked Dye’s makeup.” Not because he disliked Dye, but just because he never thought of him quite the same way as he thought of Guerrero, for whatever reason.
On the other hand, if you’re a GM, and any of those guys look good, maybe you’re willing to sign the guy that says “yes” at the price you want. There is ample evidence that guy repeatedly wasn’t Dye, so maybe he and his agent are the victims of their own bad driving. We can’t tell, but I’m personally puzzled why Dye was ultimately valued lower in the market than these other guys. And I don't think it's crazy to think an unconscious race bias could have been a subtle contributing factor.
And while we’re taking a look at the free agency market, anyone want to guess who was the top free agent second baseman in our Offseason GM Handbook? Yep. It was Orlando Hudson. But he certainly wasn’t the guy that signed the best contract. Think that might be in the back of his mind?
Orlando Hudson is a couple years younger than Placido Polanco, who signed a 3-year/ $18 million contract (compared to Hudson’s $5M/1 year deal). Of course, Polanco was able to sign that deal in part because he was moving to third base.
Mark DeRosa signed a 2-year/ $12 million deal with the Giants. He’s three years older than Hudson, had a lower OPS, doesn’t have a gold glove and was hurt a good chunk of last year. Of course, he’s also switching positions away from second base, moving to left field. So maybe in both of those cases it’s their arm strength that made them worth the extra years and millions.
The Giants also made a commitment to Freddy Sanchez, who they paid $12 million over two years to not be a free agent. He is Hudson’s age, and spent the end of last year not playing because of knee problems.
Hudson didn’t necessarily get a raw deal this year. And there was plenty of rumors that indicated that he and his agent needed to adjust their market expectations, which Dye apparently needed to do too. But I find it interesting that Hudson himself might be looking at the free agent market from last year and wonder how MLB teams were evaluating him lower than some other players. And what might have caused it.
OK, follow my math here…
According to Major League Baseball, 73% of all major leaguers are American born. And it's my understanding that 12% of the US population is black. So 12% of that 73% should be black if African-Americans are to be fairly represented by major league baseball players. 12% of 73% is 8.8%.
But according to the stories I read yesterday, 10% of major league rosters are black players. So doesn’t this mean that black are overrepresented on major league baseball rosters? Is this really a problem?