The Twitterverse and local blogs blew up as Wednesday's season-ending press gathering gave way to a rally before thousands of Rangers fans just outside the Ballpark, flashing news that the Rangers were declining the $9 million mutual option on Vladimir Guerrero's contract for 2011. But there's nothing surprising or particularly newsworthy about that development, any more than the revelation at the presser that the organization has imminent plans to extend the contracts of Ron Washington (whose deal could get hammered out this morning) and Jon Daniels.
Mutual options almost never get mutually exercised, as we talked about at length last winter when the Rangers tacked them onto Guerrero's and Rich Harden's one-year contracts. Texas, strapped for cash and constrained by a bright-line budget at the time of the deals, proposed the mutual option in each case as a creative way to pay Guerrero and Harden an extra $1 million but defer it for a year - in the form of a buyout of the putative option.
Daniels made it clear yesterday that there was never any intent at the time of the deal with Guerrero for either side to exercise the mutual option, and so the team's decision to decline it wasn't really a decision at all, and yesterday's announcement certainly wasn't one that Guerrero and his agents were perked up and waiting for. He's now a free agent, yes, but this was a one-year contract all along, dressed up as one plus an option as a way to boost the deal by $1 million without having to pay that bump until this off-season.
Daniels said the club isn't closing any doors on the possibility of Guerrero remaining in Texas. Washington, for what it's worth, said he believes Guerrero will be back.
If he is, it will be for less than the $9 million the option would have paid, or the $6.5 million he was guaranteed when he signed in January.
Both Daniels and Nolan Ryan said yesterday that the goal is to go to spring training three months from now with a better squad than in 2010. Whether that will include Guerrero is a point of discussion, but no more so today than it was before yesterday's formality of an announcement.