Over the weekend, it was announced by various sources that Ryan Dempster exercised his player option worth $14 million for the 2012 season.
Coming off a season in which he went 10-14 with a 4.80 ERA, he would have been stupid to decline the option, as he wouldn't get that kind of money on the open market.
What's ridiculous is that the Cubs (or any team for that matter) would give someone a player option.
Player options are no-win situations for clubs, in that, if a player has a good season prior to their option year, they can decline the option and sign as a free agent for more money. If they have a bad year, as in Dempster's case, they can exercise their option, giving themselves another year to re-establish their value.
The loser in each case is the team, who either loses a valuable piece of their team or has to pay above market for a player.
The Cubs also lost Aramis Ramirez due to a mutual option for 2012. Although the Cubs picked up their side of the option, Ramirez declined his side and became a free agent. Again, this is a smart move by Ramirez as he gets one last chance to cash in on a multi-year contract before his skills fade away.
On the other hand, the Cubs lose one of their best hitters and will have a difficult time replacing him as the market for third basemen is extremely weak.
Of course, the Cubs can compound the mistake by signing Ramirez to a long-term deal, thereby ensuring themselves of another bloated contract for a player who will likely be washed-up before the contract expires.
Let's hope they don't make that mistake again.