Bobby Parnell is the Mets' flame-throwing closer, wasting away on a team that gives him too few chances for a save. His 100 mph fastball is complemented with a plus curveball to make him a very attractive trade target. But the price will be high.
(SIERA: Skills Interactive Earned Run Average; BABIP: Batting Average on balls in Play.)
Stats via FanGraphs.com (updated July 1)
Parnell is being paid $1.7 million this season, his first season eligible for arbitration. He will be a free agent after the 2015 season.
Parnell was drafted by the Mets in the ninth round of the 2005 amateur draft. He was a starter for nearly his entire minor league career, racking up nearly 500 innings in four seasons. He was called up in 2008 and has been used exclusively as a reliever since 2010. His fastball can exceed 100 mph. In one memorable showdown with Miguel Cabrera his pitches were clocked at 100, 101, 103, 103, 102, 102, and a 93 mph slider. However the results were less than stellar until 2012 when he ditched the slider for a curveball. 2013 has been his best performance to date, with 13 saves and 3 blown saves.
Why he fits the Tigers
The Tigers need a dominating arm to lock down a game. Parnell can fit that role. The Tigers do not need arms that are merely acceptable. They are playing to win the playoffs, not just to make the postseason. Parnell mixes in an occasional changeup. On a staff with pitchers who throw some great changeups, he could improve the quality and usage of the changeup and become an elite talent.
Why he doesn't fit the Tigers
He could regress to his pre-2012 level of performance. Our experience with guys who can hit 102 on the radar gun suggests that health should be a major concern. Parnell could have a recurrence of the elbow inflammation that shut him down late in the 2010 season. He had a blog clot in his finger in 2011. In other words, he could be Joel Zumaya. He is not Venezuelan.
How likely is a trade?
A trade is highly unlikely, but not impossible. Parnell has a team-friendly contract. With two more years until free agency, he will likely contribute more value than he is paid. The Mets will not be looking to dump salary; he would need to be pried loose with an attractive package.
What the Tigers should give up
The Tigers would likely have to overpay. I would expect the Mets to ask for Bruce Rondon, Nick Castellanos, and a high quality talent in the low minors. With Rondon they can justify the trade as replacing Parnell, and Castellanos would immediately help their depleted outfield. This is not a deal I would make. But if they can be talked down to Rondon and any minor leaguers except Castellanos, Dombrowski should pull the trigger.