$7 Mil No Good For Pedro?

Pedro Martinez is no doubtedly a Hall of Fame pitcher and one of the best in the history of the sport. In fact, many feel that his 1999-2000 seasons are the best of all time. Right now, though, his durability has seemingly fallen by the wayside and his performance has suffered from decline as well. After pitching for the New York Mets the last few seasons, Martinez has hit free agency once more, this time in one of the biggest buyer’s markets we have seen.

Which makes it somewhat surprising why he has reportedly turned down a 1-yr/$7 mil offer from an unknown team.

Granted, this team apparently plays in the American League, and it would be very understandable for any pitcher to prefer the friendlier confines of the senior circuit. Still, one has to wonder whether or not his motives lie in the above reason or if they stem from $7 mil being too low for his liking.

From 2006-08, Pedro has spent his fair share of time on the disabled list, averaging just 16 starts and 90 innings per season. His ERA in that span is around 4.75 and his FIP is not too far behind. Suffice it to say, the Pedro pitching right now is a far cry from the dominating force at the turn of the millennium. Still, he has value as a starting pitcher, but $7+ mil in value?

To find out his worth, let us turn to the projection systems. Bill James seems to be the outlier here, with Marcel and CHONE placing Martinez in the same general vicinity of performance. As it stands, Pedro projects to pitch around 105 innings with a 4.70 FIP. The replacement level in the National League, for starting pitchers, is right around 5.50.

The issue with his performance deals more with his actual playing time. Given his recent history, 175-200 innings simply does not look even close to feasible. At 105 innings, his current projection, Pedro would be worth +9 runs, or under one win. At fair market value, that commands a salary of $4.3 mil.

Perhaps the 105 innings is too low given that he has had ample time to recover from injuries. What if he logs 150 innings this season with a 4.70 FIP? In that scenario, Pedro would allow 78 runs compared to the 92 surrendered by a replacement starter. This advantage of +14 runs converts to around +1.4 wins, a fair market value of $6.7 mil.

Judging by these calculations it appears that Martinez either:

a) Wants to pitch in the NL even if his salary is below $7 mil,
b) Believes he can exceed 150 IP while sustaining an FIP near 4.70, or
c) Feels that even if maxes out at 150 IP, his FIP will be much better than 4.70

For the sake of semantics, I don’t mean to suggest that Pedro uses FIP or calculates his value above replacement level, but rather that he believes he will surpass these projections. At 150 IP and a 4.70 FIP, he is worth $6.7 mil, very close to the $7 mil deal he just turned down. If we assume that he does not care about league as much as money, which could be a faulty assumption, let’s see what he would have to do in scenarios b and c to be worth more than $7 mil.

If he sustains a 4.70 FIP in 2009, to be worth more than $7 mil, Martinez would need to produce at least +1.5 wins. In terms of our calculations, he needs to be about +15 runs above replacement. After 150 innings, though, the 4.60 FIP for a replacement level reliever comes into play because a replacement level starter isn’t going to pitch more than 150 innings. To reach +15 runs, do you know how many innings Pedro would need to pitch? I’ll give you a hint as to the general range: at 200 innings of 4.70 FIP pitching, he still wouldn’t be there.*

*-You may be wonderng how he could be worth +14 runs at a 4.70 FIP in 150 innings yet need 70 more innings at that FIP to gain one more run of production. The reasoning is that the replacement level FIP for an NL reliever is 4.60, which is actually better than Pedro’s projected mark. Therefore, his production at any FIP above 4.60 will look better in just 150 innings than it will after the fact because his 4.70 projection is worse than the 4.60 replacement level for relievers.

Pedro would need the replacement level FIP for NL relievers to be above 4.70 for him to be able to amass +15 runs with a 4.70 FIP himself.

What about the other scenario, the one involving around 150 innings with an FIP much better than 4.70? If he posts a 4.60 FIP in 150 innings, his production is +15 runs. At a 4.50 FIP and 150 innings his production is +17 runs, and this runs total rises by two for every tenth shaved off of his FIP in 150 innings. And also, with a 4.50 FIP or lower, he does not lose any value when the reliever calculations come into play.

Basically, for Pedro to be worth $7+ mil, assuming there is no way he exceeds 170+ innings, he needs to reach any of the following:

a) 150+ IP at a 4.60 FIP
b) 140+ IP at a 4.50 FIP
c) 130+ IP at a 4.40 FIP
d) 115+ IP at a 4.30 FIP

These options do not look too unrealistic given what his performance could look like if he is fully healed. If he can meet or exceed the scenarios listed above, his fair market value will exceed $7 mil based on production alone, before even factoring in what he adds to attendance and, potentially, merchandise.

We do not know the true motive behind his rejection of the 1-yr/$7 mil deal, but it does not seem to be as ludicrous of a decision based on the above calculations. How the buyer’s market will effect him is yet to be seen, but he likely has at least one somewhat effective year left in him.




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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.


6 Responses to “$7 Mil No Good For Pedro?”

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  1. Steve says:

    Could he evolve into a closer?

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      Well, you’re asking someone who pretty much believes that ANY pitcher can become a closer with the right marketing.

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    • Viktor says:

      His walks were way up this year, his velocity is declining. Sure, he could be a bullpen arm, but thats not an effective way to spend 7m for any team.

      I saw him this year a lot and I dont know what to think. He did have flashes of dominance, but really struggled with control and keeping the ball down in some of his outings.

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      • Steve says:

        I’m thinking with him as a closer fatigue will become less of an issue so control and a drop in velocity will be less of an issue.

        If I were running a fringe team in the need of someone to close down innings I would give him serious consideration.

        With Pedro’s mentality a highly incentives and bonus related contract might be something Pedro goes for as a means to prove people wrong. Give him a base salary of 7MM with another year at 10MM that vests provided he pitches X innings.

        Pedro would definitely psych out a few batters coming out of the bullpen.

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  2. b_rider says:

    Pedro may _think_ he’s worth more or can produce better numbers than his projections would suggest, but the question is whether any team would be rational to agree. The projections that suggest he’ll be injured and/or ineffective seem reasonable to me. Perhaps he’s worth a gamble, but when you’re gambling you shouldn’t pay for the possible ceiling.

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  3. Tom says:

    Not any pitcher can be a closer, because not everyone can warm up quickly. I remember the Red Sox tried to convert a once-dominant starter into a closer only to see the experiment fail because his repeatedly-injured arm couldn’t warm up/ bounce back. Ramon Martinez.

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