The New Cleveland Closer

Francisco Rodriguez inked a three-year deal (with a fourth year option) with the Mets earlier today, but he is not the only closer that will wear a new uniform in 2009. Kerry Wood, who will likely forever be linked to the Cubs, reportedly signed a two-year deal with the Indians. The deal should be announced tomorrow, and once it is, just about everyone from the Bartman era will be gone. Wood will take over the closer’s role, which should offer some stability in the least. Last year, Joe Borowski struggled and was eventually released. Jensen Lewis then filled in for the remainder of a disappointing season for the Indians.

The exact details of the deal are not yet known, so this analysis will essentially be a work-in-progress, but we can definitely see what Wood should earn — his fair market value. In many ways, this signing is the opposite of K-Rod’s, in the sense that we have to adjust Wood’s projected FIP to be slightly higher, given the offensive superiority of the American League.

Marcel projects Wood at a 3.51 FIP over 61 innings. Moving to the junior circuit, though, a bit more should be tacked on. Let’s call him a 3.65 FIP pitcher in 61 innings. If a replacement level AL reliever is a 4.75 pitcher, than Wood is going to save a little over one run per nine innings. Extrapolated over the full 61 innings, Wood would be about eight runs above replacement level. The high leverage of his innings pitched then needs to be taken into account. Eight runs multiplied by an average LI of 1.8 comes out to +14 runs. According to these calculations, Wood would be worth a little less than one and a half wins next season.

1.4 wins * $5 mil/win equates to $7 mil. Wood’s fair market value would roughly call for a 2-yr/$14 mil deal. Last season, his base salary was $4.2 mil, though with incentives taken into account he earned just under $8 mil. We will have to wait and see what exactly Kerry signed for, but my initial inclination is that it will be more lucrative than an average annual value of $7 mil. As more details become available, we can determine just how much he was under- or over-valued, or if he was valued properly.

Then again, if he gets hurt, as has been customary for Mr. Wood, this all goes down the drain.

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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.

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