It’s actually not as much of a long shot as you might first think. Here’s why:
1.) The free agent market for starting pitchers is pretty thin.
2.) Ned Colletti doesn’t like offering contracts longer than three years to anyone.
3.) Ned likes signing players that have something to prove and giving them an incentive-laden contract (Orlando Hudson).
Now the Dodgers, like many teams, also have a history of giving big money contracts to starting pitchers that flame-out in notorious fashion, leaving the team on the hook for tens of millions of dollars (Jason Schmidt – 10 wins over three years, Darren Dreifort). I’m not saying that Ben Sheets is the next in this line, but all teams need to be cautious with his medical history. That may play into the Dodgers’ thought process when considering premiere free agent starters like John Lackey.
Agent Casey Close said that Sheets is doing “very well” in his rehab from flexor tendon surgery and plans to be 100 percent by the start of spring training. Close also anticipates no shortage of interest from clubs in the coming weeks.
“We have already heard from a number of teams inquiring about Ben’s health and availability for 2010,” Close said in an e-mail Friday to ESPN.com. “I will tell you that he has a very good chance to be one of the most impactful free agents, without question.”
Now I’m a PR guy by trade, and that is classic agent-speak. As Jerry Crasnick and his sources speculate in the article, I imagine Sheets will eventually sign late in the off-season when teams that don’t land some of the prominent free agents available come sniffing around, kicking the tires on Sheets and deciding how much of a gamble they’re willing to take on a rehabbing former All-Star.
Given that Sheets’ injuries are known, I believe we’re looking at more of an Orlando Hudson contract situation, and think it’s totally plausible that he could end up a Dodger if he checks out medically and the deal is done late in the off-season. Either way, it’s certainly going to be interesting!