Yesterday over at Motor City Bengals, John Parent told you why he wanted to see the Tigers go after Carl Pavano. Check out his reasoning. Then come back here and I'll tell you why I don't want to see the Tigers commit to Pavano.
The Tigers still have a good deal of wiggle room in the payroll for next season versus last. While no one expects them to spend all of the remaining balance, even after signing Pavano, there would still be a roughly $20 million decrease in payroll below last season. I’m not sure how I’d feel about any kind of long-term commitment, but for a two-year deal, I don’t see a problem for the Tigers if they were to make a play for him.
Therein lies the rub. It would be one thing if Pavano was looking for a one-year deal, but he's not. In this free-agent market where suddenly Pavano finds himself as the best pitcher available with several teams looking for starting pitching help, he's not likely to sign a deal for fewer than three years and $10 million a year. And oh by the way, Pavano is a Type A free agent. So the Tigers have to give up another draft pick to sign him.
Now I'm not going to tell you it's all a bad picture. Pavano has had a FIP of about 4.00 the past two years. So he pitched better than his ERA would indicate in 2009, and a bit worse than it would in 2010. He doesn't shoot himself in the foot with excessive walks (as Armando Galarraga does). He relies on ground balls to help him out of situations. But that's about all the good you can find in his game.
This is a pitcher who has had exactly one season with an ERA under 4.50 since 2007, his return from career suicide in New York. And that was 2010, a walk year and a year that he struck out just 12.9% of batters he faced. He also benefited from one of the best strand rates of his career.
In short, it looks like a classic "buy high" moment for Mr. Pavano. The Tigers made these kinds of mistakes the past few years and got stuck with the $10 million plus contracts of Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Bonderman. Why do you think the Twins haven't locked him up already? They're smarter than that.
So, my motto on Carl Pavano? Just Say No!
If anything, Detroit should be looking for a starter on the trade market.
Fangraphs' Dave Cameron notes:
Nearly every contract signed to date has been for more years and often more dollars per season than was expected heading into the winter, and has impacted free agents at every level of play – inflation has been pervasive across the board, not just limited to a certain sector of player types.
The trade market, however, has not seen the same kind of corresponding rise in prices.
If anything, they should probably offer to take Joe Blanton off the Phillies' hands. Bargain hunting and looking for value in a contract? Now we're talking.