Once upon a time, Kiko Calero was one of the pieces in the Mark Mulder deal and gained notoriety for being a solid reliever in Oakland. Calero fell out of the majors and public consciousness since developing a health allergy.
Nowadays, most people seem to be unaware of Calero’s presence in the majors. Quietly and in relative obscurity, Calero has posted an impressive 2.39 tRA and 2.38 FIP through 50-plus innings of work. Despite a fastball that sits in the 87-89 range, Calero has compiled a 69.1% contact rate (for comparison, Mike Wuertz is 57.5% and Jonathan Broxton’s is 68.6%), nearly a career best and a figure that speaks volumes about his devastating slider. His ability to miss bats is going to make him attractive because that should bode well for his strikeout rates moving forward.
Calero did miss three weeks in mid-June thanks to right shoulder inflammation. He’s had all types of issues with that arm since 2004 including rotator cuff tendinitis and surgery. Is there a risk here? Absolutely there is, but the cost doesn’t figure to be outstanding. His 2009 salary is a measly half a million. Even if he gets a deal similar to the one Joe Nelson received last year – similar in destination, injury history, and reliance on non-fastballs – one-year and 1.3 million, that risk is relatively low considering the reward.
In a free agent pitching market dripping with injury proneness, Calero may get lost in the shuffle and wind up a nice sleeper candidate for next year. Assuming his arm doesn’t detach before then.
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