There’s only one guarantee during the free agent signing period: regardless of who you do or do not sign, you will get hammered by a segment of your fan base.
A couple of years ago when the Nationals pursued Mark Teixiera, submitting an offer that was higher than the Yankees’ winning bid, a lot of fans insisted, “Oh, that was just for show. They knew he’d never sign with them...” They’re saying the same thing now in regards to the Nats’ pursuit of Cliff Lee.
When the Nats didn’t sign Alfonso Soriano after the 2006 season, some fans called it proof positive that ownership didn’t care about winning. That Soriano’s contract has proven to be a complete albatross for the Cubs matters little; those earlier critics never consider a public mea culpa.
When Pudge Rodriguez was a free agent in the winter of 2002-2003, people were astonished when he signed with the Florida Marlins, who went on to win the World Series. They were even more aghast when he signed with the Tigers the following year, a team that had just lost 119 games. He helped them to an AL flag in 2006. When he signed with the Nats last winter, the astonishment was based on the size of the contract: 2 years and $6 million, though his performance seemed to justify it in retrospect.
There’s always a couple of free agents who sign with teams you don’t expect. Fact is, you never know what the player is thinking. Is it all about the dollar amount? Is it geography? Is it based on the new team’s shot at postseason play? You never know for sure.
Mike Rizzo knows that whoever he comes up with this offseason, he’ll be critcized by someone. There’s no shortage of fans who believe with all their heart that they could run a ballclub, based on some past fantasy league success, or just off-the-charts self esteem.
In this sport, it’s impossible to keep everyone happy.