Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Financial legerdemain

The Chicago Tribune is reporting the Cubs don't think Luis Vizcaino is going to make their team and are looking to trade him.

I can't say as I blame them.

So what does a below average 34 year old relief pitcher have to do with the Washington Nationals? It was this:

The Cubs' chances of trading Vizcaino are slim because of the overpriced contract, though if they packaged him with a prospect, they could explore a deal with Oakland for shortstop Bobby Crosby, who makes $5.25 million and is being shopped after Orlando Cabrera signed.

"packaged with a prospect"? Wouldn't it be smart to offer to take Vizcaino off the Cubs hands, not send them another dead weight contract and essentially buy a prospect for what is now called one of the worst minor league systems in the game?

Vizcaino is owed $3.5M this year with a club option for '10 at $4m with a $500,000 buyout. The option vests if Vizcaino appears in 135 games in 08-09 or 68 in 09. Basically, $4m (as long as the FO can count!)

So, for about $3.5m (I'm subtracting the salary of the min wage guy who's losing service time because of this financial legerdemain) the Nats can get a prospect. I would also point out that you could grind this figure down a little more if you take into consideration the bonus to sign that the Nats won't have to pay.

Based on the going rate, it would have to be a pretty good one. Although, one could argue that taking a guy who's already been a pro for a year is less of a risk than any amatuer and thus has less of a risk factor reducing his value. Or you could just ask for the two for $1.75 per or three for 1.16 per specials. Here's the shopping list.

Basketball teams do this kind of thing all the time. And, I am not sure of the status of the sale, but I know the Tribue Co is in Chapter 11. I'll bet their creditors would be happy to liquidate a liability like this contract. Or the new owners, I'm sure battered by the economy and the demands of coming up with the financing for the sale, would see it as a smart short term cash flow decision.


  1. Besides all that, Vizcaino might actually be an upgrade to the Nats' pen.

    Sure, the Nationals have an excess of outfielders they could trade, but would the Cubs want any of them? Or are you suggesting that the Nats just hand over a pile of cash?

  2. I was just suggesting "straight cash, homey!"

    But I suppose you could get more creative with the financing if you want. The $2m owed WMP would be a good place to start.

    The decision for the FO would be: how much to spend for whom? The more cash you eat, the better prospect you should be able to acquire.