Free agents are signing faster and earlier than ever before as teams look to lock up coveted players in what looks to be the hottest market in several years.

Sunday news broke that the Cubs signed Alfonso Soriano to a ridiculous 8-year contract worth $136 million that also reportedly includes a full no-trade clause. The Cubs probably feel grateful that they were able to get this year’s number one free agent for only $17 million per year when many were predicting he would command more than $20 million per, but I have to question tying the team’s fate to a player for that long when said player has yet to learn plate discipline at age 30 and is still living off his “young player” skills of speed and bat speed, yet will be 38 years old at the end of this contract. Once Soriano’s speed gives way and his bat starts to slow but he still doesn’t know how to take a walk, I can only imagine the Cubs will regret this contract. Unless they win a World Series or something.

Another scary contract that came down the pipe today was the Dodgers signing Nomar Garciaparra to a two-year, $18 million pact. Although Garciaparra won the Comeback Player of the Year award for sorta playing a whole season after years of injury woes, he certainly didn’t shake the “injury-prone” label this season, playing through serious injuries to his rib cage, oblique, and calf that all caused him to miss time and to hobble around even when he did play. And this was all with Garciaparra playing first base to avoid injury! What’s so scary about these injuries is that none of them happened on any specific play like a dive or a slide – they just sort of randomly cropped up for no reason. That is the definition of “injury-prone.” And with the Dodgers hoping to move Garciaparra back to third base (a more physically demanding position than first) to make room for prospect James Loney, we are likely to see many more strange muscle tears and ligament sprains troubling an increasingly brittle Nomar over the next two years.

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