The recent news that the Sox are still in on Gavin Floyd has brought some hope back to Sox fans after the team's unwillingness or inability to sign the likes of Hiroki Kuroda and Paul Maholm had left them wondering whether the team was ever going to sign a good starter. To me, though, it's more confusing than it is exciting. Not because I don't like Gavin Floyd--if he comes to Boston, I have every confidence he will provide a significant boost to our chances for both a playoff spot and the division title. No, what confuses me is the thought process or sequence of events that would leave Floyd our ultimate choice.
You see, the likes of Floyd, Maholm, Kuroda, and Oswalt are not so very different in what they would realistically bring to the team, though their production might very some. Each of them has their caveats and advantages, to be sure, with Floyd and Kuroda likely offering the most dependable options, but when it comes down to it the biggest things Floyd would bring to the table that others would not are more to do with finances and the future, and what the Red Sox are spending.
When looking at Floyd in comparison to, say, Kuroda, we have to consider the following:
1) 2013 -- While Kuroda, Maholm, and Oswalt are all guys who can/could have been had on 1-year deals, Floyd is even better than that, coming with a very affordable $9.5 million team option for 2013.
2) Average Annual Value -- Floyd's long-term deal also makes his impact on the Sox' tax figure low, with his average annual value coming in just under $4 million. This would bump up to $5 million if the Sox were to use his option, but it still helps keep the figure down in 2013 if they should choose to use it, and that's probably when the Sox really expect to get underneath the cap.
3) Compensation -- The counterbalance to those first two benefits is that the Red Sox will have to give up something to the White Sox in order to get him. As Marc mentioned yesterday, given how Kenny Williams works, it's hard to say exactly what.
For Floyd to make more sense to the Red Sox than, say, a Kuroda or Maholm would have, then, those first two aspects would have to outweigh the compensation. It's hard to really analyze that equation, of course, given the Williams variable, but yesterday I suggested that a package might include something like Felix Doubront, Brandon Jacobs, and Chris Hernandez.
Of course, that depends on what the White Sox are selling. Williams, being a professional GM, likely knows that Floyd's peripherals are more impressive than his results. He likely also knows it's a pretty big risk to hold onto Floyd for a year hoping that he'll have a good year in front of a bad defense when he's entirely likely to simply lose the trade value of the extra year on his contract. He realistically can't get the full value for Floyd's low xFIP.
So is a package like Jacobs, Hernandez, and Doubront worth a slightly lower cap figure and the option of having Floyd for 2013? Perhaps. Looking ahead, having this sort of insurance could be a big deal for 2013. Right now, we don't know whether Bard will finish 2012 looking like a starter or a reliever (or as some of our readers would suggest, with a prosthetic arm), and it's hard to be happy relying on Lackey.
As much as I'm sure we'd all love to dive head-first into that free agency pool (featuring the likes of Hamels, Cain, Marcum, Grienke, McCarthy, and Lewis), with the Sox looking to get under the luxury tax I'd be surprised to see any massive contracts brought into the rotation next year, either. So the addition of Floyd is insuring ourselves against the failure of more than one of the Lackey/Bard/Wilson group that seems most likely to compete for a rotation spot next year. And, should they decide to re-open the wallets, then Floyd and his option could potentially be unloaded, though likely not for as much as we'd like given the potential to get draft picks after his contract runs up anyways.
Looking ahead to 2013 and beyond does seem a bit ridiculous when our current rotation features two of Bard, Padilla, Cook, and Silva, I'll admit. But I can't see any other reason why the Sox would really key in on Floyd instead of any of the other names that have been available in free agency. And while it might hurt to give up whatever prospects would be required instead of just $7 million, when it's 2013 and we're once again facing a budget crunch, we might be happy that our rotation doesn't require another $17 million gamble to insure against the one returning from Tommy John Surgery.