It was reported today that the Oakland Athletics have signed free agent pitcher Ben Sheets to one year deal worth approximately $10 million plus incentives.
While the price tag may seem steep for the low-budget A's, this is a shrewd move by one of the best in the business, Billy Beane.
First, Sheets missed the 2009 season with a torn flexor tendon, meaning he did not accumulate the stats required to become eligible for Type A or B free agency. This means that the A's do not sacrifice a draft pick to acquire him, which is normally the case given the talent of a pitcher like Sheets.
Second, the one year deal means that it will be easy for the A's to flip him to a contender (assuming the A's are out of contention) at the deadline for a package of prospects. Half a season of salary is a small price to pay for some prospects that could pay dividends for the A's down the road.
Now, this move is not without risk. Sheets has a long history of injury trouble, and even the most minor of injuries could scare away potential suitors. However, small-market teams like the A' don't make the playoffs by being conservative. Beane and his front office have obviously weighed the pros and cons of this decision, and I will be very surpirsed if Sheets is still an Athletic come September.