White Sox re-sign Vizquel for $1.75 million, set market for utility infielders
The White Sox’s signing of Omar Vizquel to a one-year deal will not make or break them as champions, but it may raise some eyebrows considering he will be 44 years old for the 2011 season. Despite the age, Vizquel is a smart investment for a contending White Sox team.
Vizquel had a pretty good year for a 43-year-old in 2010, hitting .276/.341/.331 while playing some third base, shortstop, second base and DH. While he didn’t play any defensive position particularly well, his versatility is valuable given the ineptitude of any other organizational options such as Brent Lillibridge or Fernando Cortez.
Fangraphs has his 2010 season valued at only $1.0 million dollars, although that was likely skewed by the bulk of his time at third base and designated hitter. With the emergence of slugging third basemen Brent Morel and Dayan Viciedo, Vizquel will be used more properly in the coming year. Vizquel will be able to give days off to Morel, Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham while also likely filling a mentor role for the younger players.
Some may scoff that any money was given to Vizquel given his production and age, but Vizquel keeps himself in tremendous physical shape, making him less likely to decline suddenly. Other options such as Craig Counsell, Nick Punto, Mike Fontenot and Adam Everett all carry different weaknesses. It will be interesting to see how Vizquel’s contract compares with some of the other younger infielders such as Jhonny Peralta.
With a lack of other suitable options, the White Sox were able to secure a solid piece to their 2011 bench at a cheap price. Their success, however, will be determined by how little they depend on Vizquel to produce.