"I should be in Atlanta..."OF/DH Luke Scott has been non-tendered by the Orioles and is now a free agent.
Scott has been an underrated slugger (in my opinion) for several years. Despite derision from some fans for his "streakiness", he always ended up his seasons as one of the better hitters on the club and did it at reasonable salaries. But a serious shoulder injury has put his future in question and the Orioles did not feel comfortable paying him $6M or more in 2012.
That is an understandable decision. What is less understandable is why Scott was on the club in 2011 and why they have to make this decision in the first place.
I'll never fully understand the free agent strategy during the 2011 offseason. The club signed a mediocre reliever for $10M and a 2-year commitment (I will not speak his name...). They signed not one, but two aging veteran reclamation projects in 1B Derrek Lee and DH Vladimir Guerrero committing more than $15 million on the gamble. (The only signings that kind of made sense were low money deals to SS Cesar Izturis and SP Justin Duchscherer. Neither worked out for the club but they weren't bad risks to provide potential depth.)
I've beaten the horse well past dead explaining how signing Lee in conjunction with Guerrero was unnecessary at best and would block promising (and cheap) prospects like Nolan Riemold at worst.
But lets say that you did want to sign those two and that you felt Guerrero still had enough left in his bat to be a serviceable DH.
Why keep Luke Scott?
Scott was coming off a career season at age 32. His trade value had been and never would be higher. With Lee and Guerrero on board, Scott was going to be pushed to leftfield where he was going to be only a fair fielder in the best of scenarios. The O's had Reimold and Felix Pie to platoon in left. Once you've made those other signings, Scott was a luxury that a rebuilding team could no longer afford.
Surely Scott could have brought back a couple of middling prospects. Maybe a cheap major league reliever. That would not be an ideal scenario but once you've pulled the trigger on Vlad, why not? As it stands now, Scott can sign with any team and the Orioles will receive nothing.
I just don't get it. Sign Lee. Or sign Vlad. Or sign both and trade Scott. But to sign both and keep Scott in 2011? It just didn't make sense. It was almost as if Andy MacPhail was gearing up for a playoff run. But could anyone look at last year's roster and truly believe this was a contending club? It was a stretch to view them as a winning one. There was so much that needed to go right for just a shot at a .500 record. But The Warehouse didn't treat the club as a rebuilding entity. Were they pandering to the fan base? Did they really believe the team was better than it was?
They needed to get some value for a guy that was made redundant by free agent signings but the Orioles refused to sell high.
Non-tendering Scott now makes a lot of sense. But keeping him a year ago, given the other free agent signings, certainly did not.