Word came down over the weekend that the Tampa Bay Rays had agreed to deals with both Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon.
Each player agreed to a one-year contract for a combined $7.25 million ($5.25M for Damon, $2M for Manny) with bonuses that could push the total value of the contracts to $8 million.
The initial reaction is that both players are in the twilight of their careers (Manny will be 39 next season, Damon is 37) and let’s face it, it isn’t 2004 anymore. But for the Rays, it doesn’t need to be.
If we go by the theory that each win (WAR) in Major League Baseball is worth approximately $4.0 million, then the Rays only need two wins out of Manny and Damon combined, for these deals to be successful. And based on their recent history, that should be the worst-case scenario.
Here is a look at the last two seasons for Manny and Damon as well as their 2011 projections according to Bill James…
Combined, the two ageing players were still worth 4.7 Wins ($19.1M) per season over the last two years. And consider that Manny’s power, while not what it was in Boston, will certainly be better than what it was in Dodger Stadium, a power-sapping park. And Damon, who was playing for the no-run Tigers should see his stolen bases jump in 2011 with the run-happy Rays.
Also consider that the Rays won the AL East last year with DHs that hit .218 with 19 home runs and a -0.7 WAR. Anything that Manny provides will top that. And even if Manny returns to his malcontent ways and becomes a distraction in the clubhouse, even the Rays can walk away from $2.0 million and just release him.
Will Manny and Damon be worth 4.7 Wins combined in 2011? Maybe not. But at $7.25M, they should still outperform Derrek Lee, who the Orioles signed for $7.25 million or Mike Cameron who will make $7.25 million sitting on the Red Sox bench this year.
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