Last week's signing of Jonathan Papelbon by the Phillies orchestrated by GM Ruben Amaro wasn't met with what you might call cheers from the sabermetric community. Maybe Amaro has a Mr. Smithers type who can soften the blow by telling him, "They're not saying, "Boo!" they're saying, "Booo-est deal ever!""
Not everyone detested the deal, but many did (I count myself among those of the latter group). And for good reason. It set a new standard for relievers, and in the midst of a buyers market, unnecessarily so. As I've pointed out elsewhere, the deal was larger than any deal any reliever has ever signed, including consensus best reliever ever Mariano Rivera. I looked it up in my baseball writer's handbook and it told me an aging team with increasing cracks in their once league-leading offensive armor spending $60 million on a relief pitcher is, officially, a misallocation of funds, as silly as sacrifice bunting down by six runs, and as pointless as using Jeff Mathis as a pinch hitter.*
*Or, for those of you who prefer your similes to not be baseball oriented, I offer you this: "as silly as a naked clown, and as pointless also as a naked clown."
But we knew all that. This, from MLB Trade Rumors, we didn't know:
Under the new CBA, teams that sign the remaining Type A relievers will not be forced to surrender draft picks, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
As ill-advised and ridiculous as the Papelbon deal was, at least the Phillies won't end up losing their first round draft pick over it. Ruben Amaro is saved from himself. Right? Flash forward to two sentences later:
The measure is not retroactive, however, meaning that the Phillies will still surrender their first-round pick for signing Jonathan Papelbon.
So, question, how do you write, "BWA HA HA HA!" but in an erudite and literary way?
Unlike every other team that signs a Type A relief pitcher this off season and, indeed, for the rest of time, the Phillies will lose their first round draft pick because of it. Also, incidentally, unlike every other team that has a Type A reliever signed away from them this off season and, indeed, for the rest of time, the Red Sox will receive a first round draft pick to compensate them for their loss.
The Phillies have the oldest team in major league baseball (according to ESPN) with an average age of essentially 30 years old. If any team should have been careful to hold on to their first round draft pick it was the Phillies.
Had Amaro held back on signing Papelbon for just one week, the Phillies would have their first rounder right now. He wouldn't have had to alter anything, either. Amaro could have signed Paps to the exact same ridiculous contract with the exact same ridiculous provisions and the exact same insane vesting option and held the exact same ridiculous press conference where Papelbon could have said the exact same trite garbage and the Phillies could havel kept their first round draft pick.
But Amaro didn't wait, and so pick number 31 will go to Boston. So when the Yankees make their choice at number 30 to officially put the Red Sox are on the clock, don't forget to pause and thank Ruben Amaro, Jr., the man whose lack of patience, fiscal sanity, and forethought made it all possible.