With Spring Training set to kick off in about a week, the storylines involving several high-profile free agents will only grow increasingly more dramatic. Based on the headlines, the market for pitchers seemingly dwindled down to the extremely risky right arm of Ben Sheets and the questionable skillset of lefty Randy Wolf. I have already covered how Braden Looper is realistically just as talented at Wolf while simultaneously costing a fraction of the money, but another pitcher has flown under the radar: Odalis Perez.
Perez’s name was recently withdrawn from the list of available hurlers, though, as he inked a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals. The deal is interesting given that it comes in the non-guaranteed form with a maximum potential salary well under the eventual deals that will be signed by Wolf and Looper. If Odalis makes the team, he can earn $850,000, which seems a bit off. Granted he played for the Washington Nationals last season, but he still produced to the tune of +1.5 wins.
He also does not carry the inconsistencies of the other pitchers. His win values over the last four years: +1.6, +1.4, +1.5, +1.5. Last season, he produced a 4.62 FIP in 159 IP. Marcel has his 2009 pegged at a very similar 4.59 FIP in 151 IP. There really is no reason to think Perez could not be equally as valuable as last season. Perez has somehow managed to garner a reputation for being old despite the fact that he won’t turn 32 until June.
Tim Redding is one year younger than Perez, and over the last four seasons has an aggregate win value of 1.0. Despite a minimal age discrepancy and the performance differences pointing very favorably in Perez’s direction, Redding signed a guaranteed $2.25 mil contract while Odalis will have to settle for one third of that salary once he makes the actual major league roster.
Why the Mets didn’t spring for Perez is beyond me, especially given that they apparently valued a consistent 5th-starter type quite highly. And, on that note, why did Perez have to settle for the Nationals anyways? He isn’t as attractive as the top-tier free agent pitchers but teams could do much worse than he as a back of the rotation starter, especially on a low risk, high reward contract. Perez should easily make the big league team and the current contract values him at +0.2 wins, under one seventh of the win values he has produced in each of the last four seasons. A good deal for the Nationals even if it won’t make any difference whatsoever.