"When we offer these early long term deals to players like Brandon Webb and
Chad Tracy, there is a certain discount that we expect," Byrnes told FutureBacks
Tuesday, "because what we're doing is making an investment. We think it's
a good one."
Some people question the value of signing young players to long-term deals before they are Free Agent eligible. Alfonso Soriano provides the best answer to this question; he lost his arbitration hearing this winter and still received a record $10 million this year. If Chad Tracy continues to perform at this high level, he would have demanded similar sums in arbitration.
And there's little reason to believe that Tracy won't continue to improve. His one red flag this year is his strikeout rate; he's whiffing once every 4.1 at bats this year compared with once every 6.4 in 2005. On the other hand, Tracy has finally learned how to hit the southpaws. He entered the season with a .224 batting average versus lefties in 189 at bats. This year, he's hitting them at a .317 clip through 63 at bats, and has displayed impressive power in those situations as well.
As versatile as this makes him on offense, it's nothing compared to how versatile he's become in the field. Chad has made just one error at the hot corner this year, meaning that he could now man any of the corner infield or outfield spots comfortably in a pinch. This is important because of the large number of high-ceiling hitting prospects currently in the Diamondbacks organization.
It may very well be that Carlos Quentin and Scott Hairston man the corner outfield spots for the foreseeable future and Tracy never needs to play anywhere but third base again. On the other hand, 3B James D'Antona currently leads the Diamondbacks' Double-A affiliate with nine homers this year. Or perhaps young 3B Ricardo Sosa shoots up through the system and makes it before some of the other outfield talent. Having a star hitter like Tracy able to accommodate whatever unpredictable happenings transpire in the farm system looms large for a young franchise like the Diamondbacks.
The best case scenario is that all of the Diamondbacks' prospects pan out and the club has no need to exercise its $7 million option on Tracy for 2010. But as we all know, many of these top prospects will falter, and the safe money is on the Diamondbacks either picking that option up or renegotiating another long-term deal to a player who may be an elite hitter in the league at that point. Move over, Gonzo, Chad Tracy has become the new face of the Diamondbacks' offense.
Read more from Keith Glab at www.baseballevolution.com
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