Talk about anticlimactic.
Smart, but anticlimactic.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the deal pays Scutaro $5 million in both 2010 and 2011 with a $1 million signing bonus.
The third-year option for 2012 is a mutual option.
The club option is worth $6 million and the player option is worth $3 million with a $1.5 million buy-out.
Essentially that makes it, at minimum, a two-year, $12.5 million deal.
Finalization of the contract is pending a physical.
The Red Sox had shown interest in Scutaro earlier this offseason, but when Toronto signed Alex Gonzalez—presumably Boston’s Plan-B—last Thursday, the endgame became pretty apparent.
As a result, Toronto—after shrewdly offering Scutaro arbitration—will receive Boston’s first-round draft pick in 2010 and a supplemental pick, assuming Boston doesn’t sign a higher-ranked Type A free agent.
Scutaro, 34, was easily the most-desirable option at shortstop in this year’s very weak class of free agents.
The Sox were also rumored to have kicked the tires on veterans Miguel Tejada, Orlando Cabrera, and Adam Everett.
All three, however, came with plenty of drawbacks which eventually led to the Sox going with Scutaro to take over what has been a veritable black hole in Boston’s lineup for nearly half a decade.
Scutaro is coming off a career year in which he set career-highs in nearly every statistical corner.
In 574 at-bats, Scutaro put up an impressive .282/.379/.409 line with twelve home runs, 60 RBI, 35 doubles, 100 runs scored, and fourteen stolen bases. He also drew an impressive 90 walks on the season against 75 strikeouts.
Those numbers were good enough to rank him in the top ten among all shortstops in numerous categories including: doubles (6th), home runs (9th), runs batted in (4th), walks (1st), stolen bases (T9th), on-base percentage (4th), and on-base plus slugging percentage (8th).
His numbers in 2009, however, were well-above his career batting line of .265/.337/.384. He’s usually good for modest pop, but nothing like the numbers he put up in 2009.
Many expect him to regress, but the Red Sox are clearly willing to the take the risk that he’s simply a late-bloomer who can hold down the shortstop position for the foreseeable future.
It is also possible that the club has plans to use Scutaro elsewhere if his numbers do return to earth in 2010 and beyond.
Scutaro has played everywhere on the diamond except catcher and pitcher.
According to most defensive metrics, he’s roughly a league-average defender no matter where he’s penciled into the lineup.
Earlier this week the Sox made mention that they were considering using former Most Valuable Player and current second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, at shortstop next season.
This now appears to have been a negotiation tactic to get Scutaro to let up on what had reportedly been a desire for a long-term deal of three-years or more.
With the shortstop situation now cleared up, the Red Sox can return to their pursuit of a big bat for left field and/or first base and a potential blockbuster trade for Toronto ace, Roy Halladay.