July 23, 2007

Good for Ronnie; Bad for FLop?

The Post is reporting that Ronnie Belliard has signed a 2-year extension that will keep him with the Nationals through the 2009 season. Terms, per Barry's "major league source" are: $1.6M for 2008, $1.9M for 2009, grand total of $3.5M for the life of the deal. It's a healthy raise over the $850,000 Ronnie's making this year, but not at all out of line for a top utility infielder and sometime starting second baseman.

Everything I said about Belliard when he came on board last spring still holds true. He's versatile, dependable and a steadying presence in the field or off the bench. He's been the Nats best pinch hitter and a better than average fill-in at second base. Jim Bowden excels at identifying diamonds in the rough, but nothing says the Nats have to turn over half the roster every offseason. Keeping Belliard in the fold gives the Nats middle infield flexibility, and between GUZMANIA's injury history and Felipe's struggles, that's a good thing.

The $64,000 question of course, is what did the Nats pass up on the trade market by retaining Ronnie? My gut instinct says "not much" but that's based on nothing at all. It's been a very quiet trade market so far this season, and all indications are that nobody's looking to give up prospects for quick fix infield help. It's possible that Ronnie could still be traded, even with this extension, and the larger contract makes it more likely that he'll pass through post deadline waivers, so there may yet be another shoe to drop.

In the meantime, settle in Ronnie, it's nice to have you around for two more years, or some fraction thereof.

UPDATE: Generally positive feedback from our colleagues at Capitol Punishment and Federal Baseball. Typically measured response from Just a Nats Fan. And this comment pretty much sums it all up: "
There are far worse ways for an MLB GM to spend 3.5 mil."

No comments: