Lowe, Perez To Sign Soon?

Omar Minaya and the Mets made a 3-yr/$36 mil offer to Derek Lowe a week or two ago. Lowe, and agent Scott Boras, felt the contract would not compensate the pitcher relative to his contributions. Those of us who have covered Lowe’s projected performance here have felt the same way, as Lowe still projects to be an above average pitcher in the 2011 season. I have said, time and time again, that he will end up signing a 3-yr/$45 mil deal or something in that vicinity. And it looks like the Braves might agree.

Frank Wren reportedly has an offer on the table for Lowe that would pay the grounder-inducing righty $15 mil/yr for at least three seasons. In fact, the deal might include an option for a fourth year, if not an outright fourth year guaranteed. Who would the Braves be getting?

Well, Lowe is 35 years old, but has been one of the most consistent, durable, and effective major league starters over the last four seasons. His minimum innings pitched total in that span is 199. He has made 32+ starts each season while averaging approximately a 3.55 ERA and 3.75 FIP. This past season actually wound up being Lowe’s best as a starter. He posted a 3.26 FIP and 3.27 K/BB ratio, both lows in his career work as a starter.

He projects to about +3.6 wins next season, which translates to a fair market value of $16.5 mil. If he declines by 0.6 wins per season, we get the following:

2009: +3.6 at $16.5 mil
2010: +3.0 at $14.9 mil
2011: +2.4 at $13.0 mil

That deal would net +9.0 wins and cost $44.4 mil over three seasons. A four-year deal would come in the $55 mil range. Given that the Braves are reportedly valuing Lowe at $0.6 mil more than his 3-yr projection and $5 mil more than his 4-yr projection, the deal looks pretty sound. The Mets have made it clear that pitching is their top concern, but Tim Redding is nowhere near enough. If they are not serious about pursuing Lowe, are they going to re-sign Oliver Perez?

Well, according to other reports that have recently surfaced, an offer to Ollie may already be on the table. The contract could be close to 3-yrs/$30 mil. Now, perhaps the Mets knew Lowe would reject the $36 mil and negotiations would begin, but it seems odd to consider Perez that close to Lowe’s production level from a monetary standpoint.

Perez may be just 27 years old, but he has not put it together yet, so to speak. Can he? Maybe. At times, he has looked dominant, but prefacing the dominance with “at times” should speak for itself. While a member of the Mets, he has experienced a big disconnect between ERA and FIP. Last season, Perez posted a 4.68 FIP but a much lower 4.22 ERA.

Over the last three seasons, his win values have been -0.3, +2.1, +1.2. Suffice it to say, nowhere near Lowe. His projections call for around +1.7 wins next season, which places him closer to the $8.5 mil/yr range than $10+ mil/yr. Maybe the Mets are hoping to re-sign him in the hopes that he finally harnesses his raw talent and breaks out.

If they see him as a +2.5 win pitcher next season capable of sustaining that performance with just a slight decline in 2011, his fair market values look like:

2009: +2.5 at $11.5 mil
2010: +2.5 at $12.5 mil
2011: +2.3 at $12.4 mil

Put together, Perez would be a +7.3 win pitcher earning $36.4 mil. Based on the supposed 3-yr/$30 mil contract, the Mets, whether they realize it or not, are valuing him as being capable of producing somewhere in this vicinity. If he continues his inconsistency, however, his value could realistically be cut in half. As of right now, though, the monetary tradeoff isn’t the same.

If the Braves are offering $15 mil/yr for three seasons, the Mets would at least have to go to $16 mil/yr for three seasons. They might even have to guarantee a fourth year or raise the salary even more. Potentially, we could be talking about 4-yrs/$66 mil for Lowe or 3-yrs/$30 mil for Perez. For Mets fans who have seen their team fall apart the last couple of seasons, the consistency of Lowe may be worth the extra money.

Of course, if he signs with the Braves in the next day or two, they won’t have a choice, but any Mets fans out there who come here: would you rather take a chance on Perez, hoping the young lefty will return to performance closer to that one season with the Pirates? Or would you rather pay extra money for Lowe, given that he has been eerily consistent in the recent years?

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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.

7 Responses to “Lowe, Perez To Sign Soon?”

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  1. Carl says:

    I’m a huge Mets and I hear your argument. Which is incredibly sound and based on good numbers, and I’m an engineer so I love numbers but the game isn’t played with numbers. One thing Ollie has going for him is that he’s a lefty. With Redding probably sliding into the #5 spot, Johan would be the only lefty starter we have. Now whether your numbers show it or not, left-handed starters who are tough against lefties change a game just by being named the starter. Lineups are changed to break up rows of lefties and some guys are given the day off against tough lefties. Bottom line- all things being equal, Lowe is a more consistent and reliable pitcher but at twice the price like you’re talking about, I will welcome Ollie back with open arms. And with the $$ saved maybe we can afford a July deal for someone better…. maybe Peavy….a guy can dream, can’t he

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      Carl, also given that the Phillies just signed Ibanez, a lefty would be nice for the Mets. It seems like if the Mets could have gotten Lowe for 3/42 or 3/45, he is a better bet than Perez… but, if it’s 64 mil over 4 yrs vs 30 mil over 3 yrs, a tradeoff occurs where Perez may become the better investment. But he has been awfully inconsistent. Adding a lefty pitcher would be good for them, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be THAT lefty.

      Randy Wolf would likely produce better results, or at least be more consistent, for less money.

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  2. Viktor says:

    Well as a Mets fan, I’m divided. On one hand, as you mentioned, Lowe is the superior pitcher and durable and everything, but the ge is still scary. There is no guarantee that he will maintain his health or that he won’t decline faster. Also, Citi Field projects as a pitcher’s park with deep OF and we still have Beltran, Church and Murphy in OF, while the likes of Castillo and Delgado are playing infield, so that favors Perez too. And also Perez handles Phillies and Braves very well, Utley, Howard can’t touch him.

    If it came down to either Lowe at 4/64 or Perez at 3/30, I’m going with Perez, because it’s the cheaper, safer way. He won’t be worse than this year and that should suffice for the rotation to be above average again, while saving money/not risking the rest of the payroll on an old pitcher.

    However, I am a bit disappointed that Omar didnt push harder for Lowe, when he had no other suitors and didnt snag him at 3/45. But who knows, perhaps he did and Boras turned him down.

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  3. Tom Au says:

    Given his consistency, then Derek Lowe is “younger” than his chronological age of 35. On the other side of the coin, egregiously inconsistent Oliver Perez is “older” than his chronological age of 27. It seems like Mets coaches/managers are looking more at calendar ages than “true” ages in evaluating these pitchers.

    It’s surprising to see Oliver Perez (and Randy Wolf) mentioned in the same breath as Derek Lowe. The Pirates knew Perez as a +1 (above replacement) pitcher over three years, with dips below replacement; i.e., not even league average in two out of three. This (“+1″) is basically the pitcher the Mets saw in 2008 (but they saw better in 2007). In this regard, Perez is closer to Tim Redding than Derek Lowe, even though his asking price is closer to Lowe’s.

    The Mets have to either decide that their starting pitching is adequate, with Redding and/or Martinez at the back end, or throw in the towel in this regard and sign Lowe for whatever it takes. Using Perez as a stop-gap is like half-pulling a bad tooth.

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  4. Pops says:

    The Braves just signed Derek Lowe to a four – year deal worth a reported $60 million dollars. Looks like Plan B for the Mets.


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  5. David Foy says:

    As a Met fan the whole off-season as me pulling my hair out. I much rather have Ben Sheets than either Perez or Lowe. My preference would have been to sign Sheets and Wolf to short term deals. Another issue with the Mets slow playing the market is that now that Lowe has signed Perez’s agent Boras can milk the mets for the most money they are willing to offer because he realizes that the Mets have to sign a SP. Considering how little interest there has been in either Wolf or Sheets it would have seemed a better and easier plan to get them both quickly and force other teams to overpay for the other second tier SP free agents.

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  6. Lukas says:

    I agree with David. Sheets would be better than either. I’d like to see Sheets and Ollie but I somehow doubt that will happen. Or Sheets and Pedro, although it’s very likely that Pedro will be overpaid.

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