Gordon: Insanity prevails in free agent marketplace

Gordon: Insanity prevails in free agent marketplace Live

Once again the free agent marketplace is reminding major league general managers to draft, develop and retain their own talent.

Decent veteran talent is dramatically overpriced, as the Cardinals learned while giving Jhonny Peralta a four-year, $53 million deal.

And star-caliber talent . . . yeah, you don’t even want to check the sticker on those guys.

The Yankees lavished a $153 million contract on center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who is 30 years old and two years removed from his monstrous 2011 season. That year he hit .321 with 46 doubles and 32 homers. He drove in 105 runs and stole 39 bases. Those are outrageous numbers.

His numbers for this season were merely quite good: .298, 31 doubles, nine homers, 53 RBIs, 52 stolen bases. But Ellsbury is a fresh-faced kid compared to the old-timers team the Yankees fielded this season at enormous cost.

The Yankees are acting like the Yankees again. Earlier Team Steinbrenner threw $85 million at catcher Brian McCann. And it offered second baseman Robinson Cano a $160 million, a bit more than half his original asking price to re-sign in the Bronx.

Now it appears Seattle might be willing to invest $200 million in Cano. That would make the Mariners more interesting, but it wouldn’t make them a contender.

The deal would leave both sides filled with regret in two years.

(Baseball fans will remember that the Mariners and Yankees have some history, including a trade that lives in infamy.)

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Old friend Carlos Beltran is apparently commanding three-year, $48 million offers – or triple the best offer the Cardinals would have given the veteran outfielder.

The Kansas City Royals, like the Mariners, seem eager to overspend to become relevant. If Beltran takes the money to return to K.C. – where he started his career -- it will be just a matter of time before he leaves again.

That franchise is a disaster. Year after year, the Royals had high draft position. Year after year they made bailout trades, moving veterans for prospects.

Year after year they failed to build a critical mass of young talent despite those advantages. By trading away elite hitting prospect Wil Myers for emergency pitching help, general manager Dayton Moore solidified his reputation as one of baseball’s most incompetent executives.

Bringing back Beltran for his twilight years would not fix that.

While other teams are spending willy-nilly, the Cardinals figure to field an improved team with a smaller payroll. General manager John Mozeliak will retain the flexibility to either make another huge move or set aside money for future contract extensions.

Sure, he overpaid Peralta. But in doing so Mozeliak filled a big team need and added a useful player without sacrificing quality young pitching. He can let the competition play out a while longer to see which of the young arms stay healthy and which of the prospects progress.

Young, inexpensive pitching is the most valuable commodity imaginable in baseball.

Mozeliak was willing to trade an asset or two for the right shortstop, but the right deal never materialized. So now he can sit on pitching, make another minor purchase or two and watch his colleagues offer crazy free agent contracts while trying to keep up.

Here is how the experts are viewing all this in the Twittervese:


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