Five years, $85 million for Jered Weaver.
Five years, $77.5 million for C.J. Wilson.
Five years, approximately $100 million for Zack Greinke. That’s what the Milwaukee Brewers supposedly offered Greinke recently, or at least very close to it.
Six years (maybe five), approximately $120 million for Cole Hamels. That’s what the Philadelphia Phillies supposedly plan to offer to Cole Hamels, or at least very close to it.
That (pause for effect) is a major problem for the Angels.
As the Angels quest, or not depending on which rumors you choose to believe, for some big time help for their beleaguered starting rotation, their past success in negotiating team-friendly, discounted long-term contracts with frontline pitchers could well bite them in the butt.
It turns out that pay scale is an issue in professional sports just as it is in any other business and the Angels have done a might fine job of setting their scale with the rotation. Weaver is the top dog and paid like it. Everyone, starting with Wilson, falls in line right after him. If they follow through with their rumored desire to trade for Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels and then try to re-sign him to a long-term deal, that pay scale is going to get blown all to hell.
Jered Weaver is on record with saying that he doesn’t care that he possibly gave away tens of millions of dollars when he signed his contract extension late last season, so he probably won’t take it personally if the Halos give a bigger contract to another slightly lesser pitcher. No, the problem is further down the organizational ladder. The first time the Angels break their pay scale all bets are off. Hey, if they are willing to pay Hamels more than Weaver because that is the “market value” then certainly they will have no problem doing the same when it comes time for Dan Haren’s next contract… or at least that is what Haren’s agent is going to say. And while Weaver might be cool with getting his deal trumped, we can’t be so certain that C.J. Wilson will be.
On the flip side, the Angels can’t just stand idly by and expect every free agent pitcher to bend to their will and take less money because Weaver and Wilson did it first. The market bears what the market shall bear. What it means is that if/when the Angels decide to go all in on a free agent starting pitcher, they need to choose very wisely if they want to avoid taking dynamite to their entire pitching pay scale (I’m not too worried about the hitter’s pay scale, for obvious reason).
Is Greinke the guy to do it with?
What about Hamels?
Don’t bother answering, partly because those are rhetorical questions but mostly because it is not for you to answer. Only Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno get to make that call and they better know what their answer is going to be in the next two weeks because what side they come down on will greatly affect whether or not they make serious bids for Zack Greinke and/or Cole Hamels.