Details: Jose Guillen signs a three-year contract worth $36 million with the Royals.
Optimist’s argument: Strip away the bad boy image and you have yourself a very useful outfielder. Good in the field, with a strong throwing arm, and a solid corner outfielder’s bat. The Royals are trying to move forward and Guillen is the type of player they should be aiming for: a talented player with a reason for other teams to look elsewhere. His reputation as a hot-head gave the Royals a chance and they made sure they didn’t let it pass them by. It’s a slight gamble, but he performed well for the Mariners last year and if he continues in that same vein (on and off the field) he will be a big boost to a team that has been in the doldrums for far too long.
Pessimist’s argument: Guillen’s career with the Royals will begin with a fifteen-day suspension due to violating MLB’s substance abuse policy. It’s a fitting start. These charges might relate to indiscretions from a few years ago, but they add another line to the long list of reasons why you shouldn’t touch him with a barge pole. A one-year deal might be acceptable as you could push him out of the back door if/when he starts causing trouble. As it is, they’re now committed to him for three whole seasons and no team is likely to want to take on his contract if/when he outstays his welcome. The best they can hope for is that he won’t drag the team down with him.
Voice of Reason: This looks to be a decent deal for the Royals. It’s possibly a bit heavy on the financial side, but everyone said that about the Gil Meche deal last year. Meche paid back the faith GM Dayton Moore showed in him with an impressive first year and there are many reasons to suggest that Guillen will be the second Mariner in succession to come good in KC. Subject to some rapid development from Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, there’s a genuine possibility that he will be their most valuable bat in 2008 (he proved to be more valuable than any KC hitter in 2007 for a start). Most of the comments you read about Guillen put his occasional temper tantrums down to his strong desire to play, which is hardly the worst attitude to have. Certainly his previous manager, John McLaren, had nothing but good things to say about him and we all know that a bad reputation is difficult to shake regardless of whether it is still deserved. A three-year deal is a fair commitment to make, he was always going to get a multi-year deal from someone and they’ve managed to keep it down to a sensible length. All in all, the Royals have got themselves a good player who could help move them up the AL Central standings if their young players breakout in ’08.
Wider impact rating: 6. Had they been able to convince Andruw Jones to man centre field alongside him, signing Guillen would have had an even bigger impact on the fortunes of the Royals. With Jones deciding to head to the Dodgers instead, the impact of this signing will mainly be felt by those chasing Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome, whose market level has probably now been set to a touch higher than what the Royals gave Guillen.