Outfielder Cliff Floyd, who looked last season like he was clearly in the twilight of his career, is going to a place where twilight guys have historically been most welcome: Tampa Bay.
Floyd, a 15-year Major League veteran, signed a one-year deal for $2.75MM (with incentive bonuses that could earn him another $2MM), plus a team option for 2009. The lefthanded-hitting Floyd will rotate with right-handed hitters Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes in filling the Rays' DH and right field slots.
While a Gomes-Floyd right field platoon would be subpar defensively, the two players might compensate with their combined production. Gomes has a career .932 on base-slugging percentage against left-handed pitching, while Floyd has an OBP of .859 vs. right-handers.
A graduate of Thornwood High School in South Holland, Floyd, 35, had 9 HRs and 45 RBI in 108 games for the Cubs last season, hitting .284 with a .373 OBP and an OPS+ of 102. Like many of his Cub teammates, Floyd had trouble hitting at Wrigley Field, where he only hit .269 with 3 HRs.
According to Mark Prior's agent, John Boggs, 11 teams have shown interest in signing the rehabbing righthander to a contract. The New York Daily News reports that the Mets and Yankees have both shown "preliminary interest."
As the Daily News points out...
The Yankees drafted Prior in the supplemental round of the 1998 draft as a high schooler, but failed to sign him - he turned down a $1.5 million offer that the team made a few months after the draft, a signing strategy executives rued afterward. Prior went to college instead...and later signed (with the Cubs) for $10.5 million.
I no longer despise the teams at the top of the salary chart the way I used to, mostly because the Cubs have joined them, but also because, as the Yankees have proven now seven seasons in a row, spending the most money doesn't guarantee you'll be hoisting the big trophy at the end of the World Series.
Where I do think the free-spending teams enjoy a distinct advantage, however, is in a case like Prior's, where a big-budget organization can afford to gamble, hope to hit the jackpot, and not be any worse off if the player turns out to be a bust.
According to mlbtraderumors.com, the Astros and Cardinals might also be in the mix for Prior.