According to Ted Keith of Sports Illustrated, the Mets’ deal for Oliver Perez is the only big money deal this offseason to be a “pricey gamble”:
Each of the other free-agents who have signed similar big money deals this winter (Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Francisco Rodriguez, Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster and A.J. Burnett are the only ones to top Perez’s dollars) have done so either as a reward for what they have done recently, or a projection of what it can be fairly well assumed they will do in the very near future. Perez, however, falls into neither category. Instead, in this winter of restraint, he is that rarest of commodities: a pricey gamble.
First of all, every big-money free-agent pitcher is a pricey gamble. And while Sabathia and K-Rod certainly have a track record of consistent success, are the other pitchers on this list that much safer than Perez, especially considering how much more they cost the $36 million for three years the Mets are giving Perez?
Sure, Lowe is a safer pitcher than Perez. Less upside, but also less downside. But with a four-year contract ending at age 39, there is definitely some downside. And at four years, $60 million, Lowe ended up costing $24 million more than Perez.
32-year-old A.J. Burnett has made more than 30 starts twice in the last six years. Burnett has been a good pitcher when healthy, but just like Perez, Burnett has never made an All-Star team or gotten a Cy Young vote. And at five years, $82 million, if the injury-prone Burnett is not a pricey gamble, then who is?
Finally, there’s Ryan Dempster. Last year, Dempster was great – 17-6, 2.96 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 187 strikeouts. Dempster made the All-Star team and finished sixth in Cy Young voting.
But the last time Dempster had a good year was way back in 2000. He hadn’t even been a starter since 2003, spending the last few years in the bullpen with very mixed results.
Last year, Dempster pitched 206 innings, the first time he had gone over 100 innings since 2003. Dempster pitched almost as many innings last year as in the previous three years combined.
A 31-year-old pitcher has his first good season in eight years and drastically increases his workload. And for that, Dempster gets four years at $52 million. That’s not a pricey gamble?
Signing Perez doesn’t address the problems in left field or second base. But it was no more of a “pricey gamble” than most of this year’s free agent pitcher deals.