Mets Left Out of Bargain Shopping

As with Jason Varitek, it seemed most likely that Oliver Perez was going to end up back with his “former” team this winter and today that officially came to fruition as Perez agreed to what is being reported as 3-year, $36-million contract.

Perez has had some wild swings in performance over the past three seasons and his projections reflect that, disagreeing with a rather large variance. Just as a recap, here is Oliver Perez‘s last five seasons by WAR, starting with the most present: 1.3, 2.2, 0.0, -1.0, 4.5. What to make of that? Clearly the 4.5 now looks like a fluke. Sure, Perez has the stuff to repeat that season, but aside from that year (and even that year his strikeout rate was far higher than expected given his other results), he’s never had the control to post big win rates.

Of all the reasonable systems, Marcel loves Perez the most, but even its projected FIP of 4.52 for Perez is below average (though better than his 2008) and with a reduction in innings, Perez comes out to around 2.1 wins via Marcel. CHONE is the most pessimistic, seeing Perez as posting a FIP near 5 and amounting to 1.1 wins, far closer to his 2008 total of 1.3.

Given a three-year deal at $36 million, the Mets are paying Perez as if he’s a three-win pitcher, a figure Perez has only reached that breakout year in 2004. The Mets are essentially banking on Perez doubling his value while under contract from 2009-11 and that’s not a good bet. I don’t know what kind of deal Ben Sheets is angling after, or what the extent of his medical reports indicate, but given his projected FIPs, Ben Sheets only has to average 76 innings per year to match Oliver Perez in value.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

24 Responses to “Mets Left Out of Bargain Shopping”

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  1. Bodhizefa says:

    It’s unbelievable to me that a guy like Perez is given a three-year deal at $12 million per for being fairly mediocre while Randy Wolf, a better pitcher, will probably settle for a lowball one-year contract. Sometimes I just don’t understand baseball very much at all.

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  2. David Foy says:

    As a Met fan and long time reader of Fangraphs I will now crawl into a corner and weep.

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  3. Rally says:

    My updated projection on Perez is lower than the initial one – I had him in a neutral environment and now he’s back in a place that helps pitchers.

    Still looks like an overpay.

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  4. acerimusdux says:

    I can believe that using only FIP might undervalue Perez slightly, but not nearly enough to justify this contract. If you look at his actual performance the last 2 seasons, ERA is low partly because of higher than average unearned runs. His RA9 the last 2 seasons have been 4.58 and 4.64. At a typical 93% of runs allowed, that equates to about a 4.28 ERA.

    Now, bring in the FIP and batted ball analysis, and it is very clear that this is an extreme flyball pitcher who benefits from playing in a good flyball pitchers park in from of probably the best outfield defense in the N.L. While that means he may continue to beat FIP, it also means he doesn’t deserve that much of the credit for it. They are already paying Bletran $18M a year to catch all those flyballs; do they really need to pay Perez $12M a year to serve them up?

    That said, there is some upside possibility with Perez. He’s only 27 years old, and if you look at his peripherals, the strikeout rate and hit rate (even if aided by that defense) are both very good. What is killing him is the high BB rate. But that is the one area most likely to improve for a young pitcher. If he could manage to get that BB9 under 3.0, without significantly worsening his other ratios, he could still have the potential to be a solid #3 SP.

    But, at $12M/yr, they are already paying for that! There is no upside in this contract.

    This is a guy who could arguably be more valuable to the Mets than anyone else, but all that means is that they were the only team that should have been willing to go 3 years at $8-$9M a year. What’s worse, for all we know they were the only team willing to go that high. Who was offering over $10M/yr here? And on top of that, lets not forget that if someone else did sign him, the Mets would have gotten 2 high draft picks as compensation as well.

    All of which makes this one of the worst Mets signings in a long time. Almost comparable to the Steve Phillips extension of Rey Ordonez.

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  5. GRAVY TRAIN says:

    I’m no Perez fan but to suggest Randy Wolf is better than him is absurd. Wolf barely pitched from 04-07 and was horrendous with the Padres in the first half of the ’08 season(not that Perez was much better) The fact is Perez is far more talented than Wolf as well as being more durable and younger. I prefered Sheets but if it’s between Wolf and Perez I take Perez every time.

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  6. MetsFan says:

    Ugh, this one hurts. With Perez’s Type A status, he should have come at a discount. Time for a new GM

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  7. acerimusdux says:


    Don’t quite buy this, but it’s an interesting argument to consider. What if you value Perez based on his actual results, rather than FIP based stats?

    year WPA RE/24
    2007 +0.54 3.03
    2008 +0.47 1.16

    Based on a replacement level SP being a .380 win percentage, or about 2.4 wins, (and skipping the math here) I figure a value of about 2.6 wins for RE/24 and 2.9 wins (2.4+0.5) for WPA.

    Possibly the Mets see Perez as a 2.5 win guy now, with upside to be more than that.

    And maybe we are under rating the degree to which FIP could undervalue a power pitcher with a plus fastball. A lot of Mets fans seem to have doubts about the average or better defensive ratings given to Murphy, Evans, and Tatis as well. Perhaps the Mets staff of power fastballs (Santana, Pelfrey, Perez, and Maine) are collectively responsible for some of this outfield “defense”?

    I realize that most of the time the context sensitive stats will be poor predictors of future performance, and that for most pitchers FIP will work better. But, I think there will be exceptions. Still doesn’t justify $12M/yr for me, but if it were $10M/yr I might buy that as the 27 year old guy with the better arm being worth it over Wolf.

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    • Victor says:

      You can go over to Stat Corner for Perez’s tRA if you want. The WAR based on tRA is about 1.77 wins a season over the last 3 seasons.

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      • acerimusdux says:


        And, note…it’s also 2.65 wins a season over the last two.

        I don’t think the Mets are worried about what he did in Pittsburgh as a 24 year old. He was a 3.6 win player in 2007, and a 1.7 win player last season per tRA. You could also look at it as 11.9 wins in 175 career games, which would come to about 2.3 in 34 starts.

        I don’t think it’s that far fetched that he’ll settle in as near a 3 win player for a few seasons here at his peak. We are talking about a 26 year old lefty who sits around 91 mph with the FB and mixes in a nasty slider.

        That said, I still think in this market he should have been paid for more like 2.5 wins at about $4M a win, or about $10M/yr.

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      • Both of those are cherry-picking. Last 2 years avoids his dreadful 2006 and his career includes his flukey 2004.

        Furthermore, tRA is inferior to tRA* for projections. The WAR’s are based off tRA because they are the better reflection of how the pitcher performed that season, but since it doesn’t attempt to correct anything like HR/FB rate, it’s limited as a projection tool.

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      • acerimusdux says:

        Well, even using *tRA I figure him right at 4 wins over the last 2, so still 2 per season.

        Given his upside, that you’re getting him for his age 27-29 seasons, I think it would have been a decent signing had it been at $10M/yr. I think he’s clearly a cut above Wolf.

        All else equal, yeah you certainly pay more for the guy with stuff and upside, for his prime years, who really only has to be more consistent with his mechanics.

        And I think he will average about 2.5 wins over the next 3 seasons, but I think the Mets overpaid for that.

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  8. Justin says:

    Can we start up a

    And I quote

    “$36 million for a pitcher who is dominant as often as Perez is is a pretty good deal”

    Dominant as often??? You mean a dominant walk machine???
    This guy is a joke….espn needs to hire all of you

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  9. Tom Au says:

    Stupid Mets. Offering Derek Lowe the same deal as they gave Ollie Perez, essentially treating them equivalently, when the former is by far the better pitcher. The difference between the two is six wins or more over three years, which is to say paying Lowe $24 million more over THREE years would be appropriate. In reality, Lowe is getting $24 million more over four years, or only $3 million more per single year. But then the Mets traded Scott Kazmir for Zembrano.

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  10. Anthony says:

    Another Met fan here; a bit disappointed as I thought at most it would be for 10m/year. If he was willing to go to 12 for Ollie he should have at least matched the braves offer. I really think Dunn would be a good move at this point.

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  11. Mike says:

    “Sure, Perez has the stuff to repeat that season, but aside from that year (and even that year his strikeout rate was far higher than expected given his other results)”

    Hi Matt. What are the strikeout indicators that you speak of here? How do you determine expected strikeouts?

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  12. Tom Au says:

    I think I figured out how the Mets’ process worked. They budgeted $36 million for three years and said, “What is the best pitcher we can get for this amount?” So when Lowe turned them down, they “settled” for Perez.

    The way the process should work is more like, how little can we spend to get an x win pitcher (compared to similar others). If they had looked at it that way, they would have realized that they were paying Perez $12 million a year to be a one win pitcher when Tim Redding offers you the same one win for $2.25 million.

    The Mets should either have “paid up” for Lowe or “settled for” Redding and used the $10 million difference in salary to buy wins another way. Perez offers the worst of both worlds.

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  13. nymets8 says:

    I am not too excited about this up coming season. Oliver Perez was consistenly bad last year.

    These are his numbers from 6 September starts in 2008: 33 Innings, 33 Hits Allowed, 21 Walks, 34 Strikeouts, 21 Earned runs. That is an ERA of 6.36 and a WHIP of 1.64 Just awesome. 54 baserunners in 33 innings. Imagine if he had an ERA of just 5.00 in September, maybe he could have received a 5 year deal. Just a joke. I am sad today to say I am a Mets season ticket holder.

    Also, if we think Tim Redding is the answer….here are his September #’s: 24 Innings, 26 Hits, 12 Walks, 20 earned runs. Nice, 8.33 ERA. If the Nationals do not want you, there is a reason. I would beat Omar in baseball roto every year. He has no clue about pitching. They should hire the Twins scouts. That is where their money should be going. Those guys make $100k. Offer them $200k to leave. I am sick.

    John Maine’s health is a question mark and Pelfrey pitched more innings last year then the 2 previously combined.

    And as far as the “revamped” bullen is concerned. I would agree that it is improved if Wagner were still pitching. K-Rod replaces Wagner, he is not an addition, he is a replacement. We trade Joe Smith, who was actually better then Putz last year. Heilman had a brutal year last year, but the guy replacing him, Sean Green is horrible. Horrible. He will be sent to minors by mid May.

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  14. Sam says:

    Why doesn’t his CHONE projection at fangraphs match this one: ?

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    • acerimusdsux says:

      That has probably been updated to put him on the Mets.
      The fangraphs projection is probably supposed to be team neutral.

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  15. Joe R says:

    Terrible signing. Then again, what do you expect from a team that just handed K-Rod a $17 mil / year contract when every forecast predicts his ERA to go up.

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    • Joe R says:

      by that I mean $12.33 million a year.

      My mistake, still a bit of an overpay in my opinion, but I think everyone expected K-Rod to get an inflated deal.

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  16. That’s amazing a three-year deal at $36 million. That’s 12 million every year. that’s the best deal .I would be so happy even if i get the 1/10 of money. Thanks for the article it has been a fun to read.

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