Nice To Have Cora Back But What’s With This Contract?

The Mets resigned free agent infielder Alex Cora yesterday. The deal calls for Cora to be paid $2 million for the 2010 season. I like this deal on the surface but when you break it down it looks pretty bad.

  1. $2 million for a backup. Cora is a backup middle infielder whose recent experience has proven cannot hold up as a starter. I know that $2 million won’t exactly break the Mets back as far as payroll goes but there are better options available for less money. For example, Omar Vizquel got $1,375,000 from the White Sox. OK, it’s relatively small money in a game where the average player makes about $3 million a year but it shows bad judgment.
  2. Incentives. Built into the contract are incentives for having started 80, 90, 100 and 110 games. I could understand these incentives for having played in these numbers of games. But starting? As a backup he’s really got no control over how many games he starts but with the injury problems the Mets had last year incentives for games started by a backup don’t sit well with me. Besides, what happened to incentives being earned and not rewarded based on teammates injuries?
  3. Vesting options. If Cora starts 80 games next season a $2 million option for 2011 will become guaranteed. In other words, if Jose Reyes needs to take some extra days off to rest his repaired leg and Luis Castillo shows that last years .302 average in 142 games was an aberration, two things Cora has absolutely no control over, Cora will automatically benefit.

I like Cora and I don’t mean to rip him. I like his attitude and hope that this years team benefits from it.

I’m also sure management has taken these things into account as well. I mean, these are incentives and options that, if all goes to plan, should never come to pass so what’s the harm in putting it in the contract?

But as a fan it just doesn’t sit well with me. Offering more money to a marginal player and the possibility of guaranteed money for an extra year if other players get hurt just doesn’t seem right. Let’s just hope Omar Minaya knows what he’s doing here. His job depends on it.

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