In his recent column at ESPN.com (subscription required), Rob Neyer handed out accolades for this offseason's best signings. Among them was Moises Alou's one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Mets.
It's not that Alou would be a good fit for every team; he wouldn't. But the Mets are rich, they're contenders, and in the short term they desperately need production from a corner outfield slot. At his age, Alou's a gamble. But he's exactly the right sort of gamble for a team such as the Mets.
The worst-case scenario in signing Alou is that he completely breaks down physically and ends up missing much or all of the season. After all, Alou is 40 years old and has only played in 221 games over the past two seasons. In the event that he isn't healthy enough to contribute or is struck down by some urine-borne debilitating virus, the Mets have only to swallow the remainder of his guaranteed $8.5 million samoleans and they can rid themselves of him entirely. Unlike terrible signings of the past regime like Roger Cedeno and Mo Vaughn, the Mets have in no way mortgaged current or future flexibility -- payroll or otherwise. There will be no albatross contract here.The move appears even shrewder with the benefit of hindsight, as the last four weeks' worth of contracts make that $8.5 million seem like a relative pittance by comparison.