Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Pavano Accepts Arbitration

Yesterday marked the deadline for Carl Pavano to decide whether to accept or decline the Twins' arbitration offer, and to my surprise he elected to accept, ensuring that the August acquisition will wear a Twins uniform once again in 2010.

Reports indicate that Pavano and his agent were seeking a multi-year deal from the Twins and other teams, but ultimately didn't get any bites. Rather than running the risk of being forced to settle for another incentive-laden deal with a low base, Pavano decided to make the one-year commitment to the Twins and will likely end up making around $7-$8 million next season.

I say I'm surprised by this outcome because Pavano signed a one-year make good deal last offseason with the Indians, and it seemed to me like he did make good. The historically injury-prone hurler racked up 200 innings without much issue while displaying elite control (his 1.76 BB/9 IP rate ranked second in the AL) and an ability to miss bats (solid 7.2 K/9 IP rate). He even finished his year by putting forth a dazzling performance on the national stage against an offensive powerhouse by holding the Yankees to two runs over seven innings in Game 3 of the ALDS.

My sense was that some pitching-starved club would view these promising signs as meriting a two-year deal, but apparently the past injury problems and the inflated ERA this past season were enough to scare away other general managers.

I have suggested in the past that the Twins bring him back on a two-year, $12 million pact. While such a deal would have likely entailed a lower annual base, retaining Pavano on a one-year commitment is preferable because his historical tendency to get hurt makes any multi-year guarantee a concerning risk.

I concluded about a month ago that "even though Pavano is merely a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, bringing him back should be a priority." The Twins now have him locked up for next year, and he should be able to combine with Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn to form a very competent 1-through-4 in the rotation. Pavano's relatively high price tag does, however, figure to limit the Twins' financial flexibility over the remainder of the offseason. We'll dig into that predicament later this week.

11 comments:

Matt P said...

Hmmm... You agreeing with Dave Cameron? Not likely. However, Dave Cameron agreeing with you; much more plausible. I think all in all the Twins definitely got a bargain in Pavano. I don't know if other GM's don't look below surface statistics or if a multi-year deal was that much of a deal breaker for big P. His FIP & xFIP were second only to Joe Nathan, and his K/BB third to Nathan & Slowey. His BABIP was the highest of all pitchers in the AL, min. 100 IP, which just has to come down. Needless to say I'm sold on his value, especially given his contract.

The one sentiment that troubles me is that this does translate into a competent 1-4 rotation. Not a dazzling 1-4 by any means, more like an adequate 2-5 for a playoff team. The Twins are no doubt lacking an ace, and I would much rather be in that situation with an above average infield. This infield would under no circumstances include Nick Punto. Unfortunately with this signing it seems that the payroll will be lacking to sign two more infielders. I would be overjoyed with that 1-4 if my infield was Morneau, Lopez, Hardy and Beltre. However now I'd be surprised if we got one player of Lopez/Beltre quality. Now I'm just praying we don't get stuck with DeRosa.

Hopefully the stove gets turned up higher than simmer in the next couple days, otherwise the status quo continues to disapoint.

David said...

I think you're a tad high on Pavano's projected 2010m salary, Nick. My guess is that the Twins and Carl will avoid arbitration by settling on $6-6.5 million. Will that hamstring the club from making additional moves? Doubtful.

David said...

Minor quibble - Fangraphs has his K/9 last year at 6.64. Was the 7.2 figure you listed his K/9 with the Twins?

Steve-No said...

Whew. This is the best-case scenario. And injury is not the only thing I would be worried about with Pavano. It's just too common to see guys dial it back a little after signing multi-year deals.

And yes, fiances will be an issue throughout the rest of the offseason, but this arbitration acceptance was exactly what had to happen. Unfortunately, the Hardy deal is also working against the Twins' availability of funds -- and Hardy just doesn't provide enough of an upgrade to warrant what he costs the team in salary.

I know, everyone's in love with Hardy and no one will agree with me now. But come the all-star break it should be fairly clear.

Nick N. said...

I think you're a tad high on Pavano's projected 2010m salary, Nick. My guess is that the Twins and Carl will avoid arbitration by settling on $6-6.5 million.

You might be right. I guess I don't really know what a 33-year-old pitcher coming off a 200-IP, 5.00 ERA season is able to command in arbitration; I can't think of a recent precedent. Most rumblings I've heard have indicated that he's likely to end up making over $7 million, though.

Minor quibble - Fangraphs has his K/9 last year at 6.64. Was the 7.2 figure you listed his K/9 with the Twins?

Ah yes, you're right. My mistake. Still solid enough.

lookatthosetwins said...

Matt, I think the rotation will be fine. You can't separate "playoff" from "nonplayoff" rotations. We have 4 pitchers who project to be above league average. None of them look like they'll be that "ace" that everyone talks about, but I just don't think that's as important as its made out to be.

We look like we'll have one of the best offensive teams in the AL, with an above average rotation. That sounds good to me. We also have tons of depth in the rotation. Guys like Duensing, Perkins, Swarzak, and Liriano would ALL be starting on some major league teams. We'll only start one of them.

Rotation looks fine to me, the biggest hole is obviously in the infield. Sign/trade for a couple of league average guys, and our chances of making the playoffs rise drastically.

Jewscott said...

"The historically injury-prone hurler racked up 200 innings without much issue while displaying elite control (his 1.76 BB/9 IP rate ranked second in the AL) and an ability to miss bats (solid 7.2 K/9 IP rate)."

Seems a bit weird that you use that you use Pavano's overall BB/9 line and just his Twins' K/9 rate. Still, this isn't a bad move. But it isn't a great move either. A healthy Pavano is a perfectly cromulent pitcher. He's not the piece that's going to get this team over the hump, though.

Nick N. said...

Seems a bit weird that you use that you use Pavano's overall BB/9 line and just his Twins' K/9 rate.

As mentioned above, this was an unintentional mistake. Overall K/9 was 6.6; still solid.

A healthy Pavano is a perfectly cromulent pitcher.

He definitely embiggens the rotation.

He's not the piece that's going to get this team over the hump, though.

Twins might have to hope that Slowey or Liriano is that piece. I'd guess they're done addressing the rotation.

Jewscott said...

"He definitely embiggens the rotation."

More than a healthy Harden, Sheets or Bedard though?


"Twins might have to hope that Slowey or Liriano is that piece. I'd guess they're done addressing the rotation."

I'd guess they are as well, at least for Harden. But it would probably still be smart of the team to look into how much Sheets will cost, and of that's too much maybe signing a Kelvim Escobar or Brett Myers on the cheap.

Big D said...

Hard to know what to think of Pav after just reading Joe Torre's book. Wasn't too complimentary.

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