Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Is Pavano overvalued as a free agent?

Yesterday Aaron Gleeman posted on NBC Hardball Talk the top free agents that are still available.  The sad thing for Twins fans is that out of the top 12 players, four were part of the Twins organization in 2010. The former Twins players include Carl Pavano (#1), Brian Fuentes (#5), Jon Rauch (#10), and Jim Thome (#12).

Earlier this offseason I took a look at the strange journey that Carl Pavano has had over the course of his career.  It has been a roller-coaster ride of emotions that have led many to rank Pavano as the best free agent pitcher available on the open market.

Reports over the last week have Pavano leaning toward coming back to the Twins .  The deal is reportedly for two seasons and there could be an option will be in place for a third season.  Many Twins fans have gotten frustrated over the course of the offseason as other AL Central rivals continue to beef up and the Twins seem to be stagnant.  Twins fans want something to get done and they want it to happen now.

This offseason has been interesting to watch unfold.  The Cliff Lee Saga captured headlines as he spurned the advances of the Yankees and the Rangers to return to the Phillies.  Pavano waited for that deal to be completed so that he could be the target of all of the teams that missed out in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.  The problem was that none of these teams seemed to be interested.

The Yankees weren't going to bring Pavano back because that would be a PR nightmare.  The Rangers decided to go with a wild card and signed Brandon Webb to a one-year contract.  The teams that are rumored to be interested in Pavano's services for next season are the Twins and the Nationals.  Could there be another team in the mix?

Pavano has certainly taken his time in chosen his home for the next couple of seasons.  This can raise the possibility that Pavano was overvalued as a free agent this offseason.

Let's take a look at the reasons that he could be considered overvalued in this offseason market.

1.  Minimal teams are interested.  As I mentioned before it sounds as if only two teams were interested in Pavano and that number could be one after the recent news that the Nationals have lost interest.  I am sure that Pavano and his agent envisioned a free agent market where there would be at least half a dozen teams competing to have the 'stache in their rotation next season.  That market hasn't developed and it seems that teams have stayed away from Pavano and his search for a three-year contract.

2.  His history of injuries.  From car crashes, elbow surgeries, and hip injuries, Pavano has seen them all.  This could scare a lot of teams away from the right-hander.  The last and only time he had back to back seasons of double digit wins was 2003 and 2004.  Pavano has bounced back and flourished over parts of the last two seasons.  Can he maintain that transformation over the course of a two or three-year contract?

3.  His age.  Pavano is no spry chicken any more.  Over the weekend, he turned 35.  He also has 12 years of wear and tear on his pitching arm.  The list of pitchers that have succeeded in the majors after the age of 35 isn't exceedingly long.  Those that have been successful in the twilight of their careers are usually bound for the Hall-of-Fame.  Needless to say Pavano probably doesn't need to get an acceptance speech ready.

As the offseason progresses I believe that the Pavano-Twins marriage will get done.  The fortunate things for the Twins is that the market seems to have fallen in their favor.  They are going to be able to offer a reasonable contract to Pavano and it might be the only offer that he has on the table.  The value of Pavano seems to have decreased in the recent weeks so expect to see a contract by the end of the week.  That way Pavano can maximize the remaining value that he has left.

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