When the 2010 season opens, the Angels bullpen will look almost nothing like its 2009 version. The addition of Fernando Rodney and subtraction of Jose Arredondo guaranteed it. Darren Oliver and Kelvim Escobar departing just changes the extent. Both of the deals came over the past week; let’s focus on Oliver first.
For years Oliver has been entrapped in a bubble. Oliver annually gaining Type-A status and declining arbitration meant that a new suitor for his services would have to give up at least a second round pick or a first if the team was choosing in the latter half of the round. Tony Reagins must adore Oliver, because he set him free this year and Oliver rewards the act by signing with perhaps the Angels’ fiercest division competitor, the Rangers. Despite his age (39), Oliver has appeared in at least 50 games each of the last three seasons and has xFIP of 3.92, 4.15, and 4.43 over that time. He misses some bats and can get batters of either hand out. The deal is worth $3.5M and there’s a strong chance he earns it.
Escobar’s deal with the Mets is worth a base salary of $1.25M, and he’ll make roughly $1.5M if he starts the season on the 25 man roster. There’s an additional $2M in incentives based on appearances and a million more based on finishes which seems unlikely, barring injury to Francisco Rodriguez. Over the last two seasons, Escobar has appeared in exactly one Major League game, which raises some questions as to why any team would want him. Well, it’s simple: he’s a pretty good pitcher when healthy. His xFIP since 2002 is a tick over 4.00 despite spending his entire time in the American League and appearing mostly as a starter. The incentives are a win/win for New York. Either Escobar stays healthy and productive, hence appearing in 35+ games, or he bombs and Jerry Manuel has incentive to not use him. If the latter happens, pray for Pedro Feliciano’s well-being.
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