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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?