Twins Sign Mike Pelfrey

Elsa

I can't even...

Remember last week, when I couldn't say enough how much signing Mike Pelfrey to a two-year deal made no sense? Let me refresh your memory. You can see my frustration mount as the week went along.

Wednesday, 6:00am

If the contract is for one year, Arroyo is the better pitcher and is the preferable option. But if the contract is for multiple years, Pelfrey is younger, would seem to require fewer years (two instead of three), and would also require less of a financial commitment per season. I'm still not sold on Pelfrey, but if the choice is between the two on a multi-year contract he's the one I'd roll with.

Wednesday, 3:30pm

The interest is very real, but I remain skeptical that any multi-year free agent offer to a pitcher not named Garza is a good idea. While the addition of Pelfrey, or Bronson Arroyo for that matter, would likely grant the Twins a better rotation in 2014, making a similar claim for 2015 is dubious.

Judging contracts in the aggregate, or looking at the whole at the end of the deal, is a fine way to evaluate whether or not the player was worth the money he was given. But the likelihood of a player making a positive impact on the field, year-by-year, is another matter. And in no way am I comfortable seeing the Twins give multiple years to either Arroyo or Pelfrey.

- snip -

For a team that is not built to win now, making a move that trades success today for good chances of regression in just one year's time seems like a waste of resources.

- snip -

But if either Pelfrey or Arroyo are signed to multi-year contracts by the Twins, it's going to be entertaining to watch me try to find something good about those additional years.

Oh.

Thursday, 6:00am

Is that some kind of joke?

Thursday, 11:10am

Hopefully that doesn't mean the team over compensates by signing Mike Pelfrey or Bronson Arroyo to multi-year offers. Being the hunter and being aggressive means moving quickly, and as we said - that's not something we're accustomed to seeing. Hopefully they don't move too fast for their own good.

There you have it. NOW...let's see how I can spin this, shall we?

Below are the recently released ZiPS projections for 2014, reduced to the 13 players most likely to be considered for the starting rotation come spring. Some of these guys will eventually be booted from the roster for one reason or another (somebody has to go in order for Pelfrey to be added to the 40-man roster), and ZiPS is a notoriously pessimistic system, but knowing all that how does the newest addition compare to what was already in-house?

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP ERA+ 2014 Age
Ricky Nolasco 177.2 18.3 5.1 4.10 95 31
Phil Hughes 141.2 19.2 6.3 4.50 86 28
Kevin Correia 145.2 12.7 6.2 5.12 79 33
Mike Pelfrey 118.2 14.5 7.3 4.71 80 30
Samuel Deduno 110.0 15.7 12.0 5.30 83 30
Kyle Gibson 97.1 14.7 9.0 5.259 76 26
Vance Worley 127.0 15.5 7.4 4.65 82 26
Scott Diamond 167.0 11.1 6.0 5.08 77 27
Andrew Albers 124.0 13.3 6.0 5.12 76 28
Liam Hendriks 149.2 13.1 6.3 5.16 74 25
Kris Johnson 90.1 12.6 11.0 5.69 72 29
Logan Darnell 136.2 12.5 8.2 5.59 71 25
Cole De Vries 111.2 12.2 6.0 5.76 68 29


I included Liam Henriks for his own purposes, but comparing Mike Pelfrey to the ragtag list of pitching options - would he be one of your top five choices for a job in the rotation? Like I said above, ZiPS is very pessimistic, and it's quite easy to thumb through that list and pick out one or two guys that should pitch better (ignoring the innings pitched totals). How optimistic are you on Pelfrey topping those rather modest numbers? Forget about the fact that nobody is projected to have a league-average ERA; who are your top five?

Maybe Pelfrey makes your list. But knowing that the Twins didn't have to make that signing, and understanding that his profile is so similar to everything else sitting on the roster that in a blind ZiPS taste test you couldn't tell the difference, where is the benefit of spending $5.5 million for two separate seasons on a player when you have every chance of replicating that production at a fraction of the cost?

The Twins obviously look at Pelfrey, see his experience, and project him to continue improving now that he'll be nearly two full years removed from Tommy John surgery. When I look at Pelfrey, I see the same philosophy that hampered Minnesota's free agent pitcher signings for a decade, and I also see a player who will take up roster space when it's at a premium.

The Silver Lining

Without spitting on your head and telling you it's raining, I can give us two assurances that, while not necessarily making us feel better about the signing, may give us some perspective.

  • The money due to Pelfrey over two seasons won't stop the Twins from doing anything. At all. If he's merely serviceable, that's alright.
  • In the event that Pelfrey completely bombs, the Twins can clear his roster space and eat the money. It's not ideal, but they're already on the hook for the money so getting the roster spot back would make the best out of a bad situation.
This is certainly a wait-and-see situation, because right now I think most of us aren't endorsing this deal. There's a logjam amongst candidates for the 40-man roster and the starting rotation. Who falls?
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