Considering the market that has been established for mediocre starting pitching in recent offseasons, there was never much doubt that Carlos Silva would be pitching in a different uniform next season. It was reported earlier this week that Silva and the Mariners were closing in on a four year deal worth $44 million, but I elected to withhold comment until the deal became official. That happened yesterday, when the Mariners officially announced that they'd signed Silva to a four-year contract, which turned out to be worth a little more than originally thought at $48 million.
It's a little difficult to wrap your head around, isn't it? It was less than three years ago that the Twins signed Johan Santana to a four-year extension worth $39.75M. And now Silva, a pitcher who was arguably the worst in the league two years ago, and who has little chance of being anything more than a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, is inking a contract that will pay him an average of $12 million per year. The initial reaction is to look at this contract and say, "Man, Seattle got hosed." I don't necessarily think that is the case, all things considered.
Last winter, the Brewers signed Jeff Suppan to a four-year deal worth $42 million. At the time, Suppan was about a week away from turning 32, and -- like Silva -- he was a good bet to provide around 200 innings with a solid but unspectacular ERA. Comparatively speaking, getting Silva for an extra $6 million over the same number of years seems like a decent deal. Silva is only 28 and his career ERA and WHIP are better than Suppan's were. Plus, while Suppan has had some solid years over the course of his career, he's never had a season as good as Silva's 2005, so it could be said that Silva has more upside.
Forty-eight million dollars seems like a lot to spend on a player of Silva's caliber, but the reality is that the Mariners had money to spend and they were badly in need of a reliable arm that they can stick in their rotation. Silva's ERA last year would have ranked second among Seattle's starters, behind only Felix Hernandez. The deal is good for Silva because it puts him in a place where he has a good chance to succeed -- Safeco Field is a pitcher's park and the groundball-inducing Silva will no doubt enjoy the Mariners' defensive proficiency on the left side of the infield with Adrian Beltre at third and Yuniesky Betancourt at short.
Seeing Silva sign this type of contract just re-emphasizes the fact that he is valued more around the league than a lot of Twins fans might have thought. I was quite vocal last season around the trading deadline in stating that the Twins should trade Silva for any kind of value rather than watching him walk as a free agent with no compensation during the offseason. The first team I suggested as a trading partner was, in fact, the Mariners, who were contending for a playoff spot but featured some of the worst starting pitching in baseball. If Silva is worth this kind of money on the open market, it's hard to imagine he couldn't have at least netted a prospect or two from some team looking for a rotation boost down the stretch.
Alas, the non-move by Terry Ryan goes down as another blemish on what was an unimpressive late run for the former GM. I wish Silva the best in Seattle and my guess is that he'll do fairly well there. Let's just hope he gets hit with another tummy-ache when the time comes for him to face the Twins.