Mets Sign Kelvim Escobar

kelvim-escobarThis time it’s for real, we think: the Mets have reached an agreement with Kelvim Escobar on a one-year, minor league deal.

The news was tweeted by Joel Sherman and reported by ESPN.

According to the Daily News:

Minaya told the Daily News Friday, “With Escobar, we are looking at him as a reliever.”

This is a fine low-risk move for the Mets, but keep your expectations low. Escobar once had lights-out stuff, but has been marred by shoulder and elbow injuries his entire career. He missed all of 2008 and most of 2009 after shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.

Generally speaking, pitchers don’t come back from labrum surgery with anywhere near the velocity they had before. Ask Jason Schmidt, Freddy Garcia, or Mark Mulder. It’s not impossible to make a comeback from the surgery — Jon Rauch, Curt Schilling, and Chris Carpenter all returned — but, the success stories are few and far between.

After almost two years of inaction, Escobar returned on June 5, 2009 and pitched five innings and 92 pitches. He suffered shoulder pain after the outing and didn’t pitch again.

*** UPDATE ***

There are conflicting reports regarding Escobar’s contract. Some say it is a minor league deal, while others now say it is an MLB contract with $1.25M guaranteed. If that’s the case I’m not sure this signing makes much sense, because Escobar could very well be as effective as Duaner Sanchez. Like Sanchez, Escobar needs 92+ MPH velocity in order to succeed.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. murph December 26, 2009 at 7:50 pm
    I guess he is this year’s Freddie Garcia.
    Let’s see what he can do. I hope he has thrown some Fall or Winter ball to prove that he can still pitch.

    The Angels paid him $19M over 2008-2009 for 1 game.

  2. gary s. December 27, 2009 at 12:52 am
    go omar go!!! who needs healthy players?? this signing should secure at least 1 season ticket package
  3. isuzudude December 27, 2009 at 9:57 am
    The optimist in me hopes Escobar can be the 2010 version of what Fernando Nieve was last year; a la someone grabbed off the scrap heap who is rebounding from arm surgery and may be ready to fully recoup all of his former velocity and durability.

    The pessimist in me (or, should I say the gary s in me) thinks Escobar will be like Freddy Garcia, who appeared to have no right playing at the big league level any more last March. Though, to be fair, after Garcia was cut by the Mets he latched on with the White Sox and did surprisingly well, so maybe all he needed was a bit more time to recover. Perhaps the lesson here is to be patient with Escobar and not throw him to the wolves too quickly (which may be too much for Jerry to resist). Someone making $1.25M shouldn’t be considered for release in May if he’s struggling to find his former self. Because, as we’ve seen with Freddy, it may just take a little patience for the fruit to ripen.

  4. Harry Chiti December 27, 2009 at 10:36 am
    For a Met fan to say we hope he does good is really unnecessary. Met fans should hope all of their players do well. To say its a “low risk” sign is incorrect. Its a low cost sign. Its made by every team and the contest is to see which GM gets the luckiest on these deals. Omar has had some great “garbage heap” signs. Valentin, Tatis the headliners over the years. But he has had his fair share of failures if people remember, Lima, Gonzalez, to name the worst. He’ll make a few more of these deals this Winter as all GMs do, but please don’t write in your article how its a low risk sign. Because it isn’t.
  5. joejanish December 27, 2009 at 12:23 pm
    Harry, so should I term it a “high-risk” signing?

    It’s not a “garbage heap” signing because that would refer to a player who no one else wants because he stinks like garbage (at least, that’s how Merriam-Webster defines it).

    But I will take away the “low-risk” label if indeed Escobar gets $1.5M guaranteed. Because to me that’s too much money for someone who may not be able to pitch at all, and who is not named Ben Sheets.

  6. gary s. December 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm
    dude, if the mets weren’t coming off the worst injury plagued year in the history of the franchise, i’d be okay with signing an escobar as a project.but after last years, black hole of a season, omar should be getting healthy players or just don’t bother..to me and a lot of met fans it’s really lame.just looks like he’s making moves for the sake of making moves.the flip side is if we stay with the same losers from the last 3 years and we stink, at least we’ll get a new manager and a gm.. imho, i think that’s what’s on tap for 2010..
  7. mic December 27, 2009 at 9:35 pm
    Escobar; –
    a- wants to relieve
    b- has not made the club,
    c- will NOT blow more games than Putz
  8. isuzudude December 28, 2009 at 5:26 pm
    Well, gary, the Mets had some of their pitchers get hurt in 2008, with John Maine, Billy Wagner, Pedro Martinez, and Matt Wise, so the case could have also been made last season for Omar to pursue durability exclusively and avoid the ‘projects.’ However, then he would have missed out on Fernando Nieve, who I think you would agree was a pretty savvy signing, despite the health risks. Similarly, even though the Mets had a horrible case of the injury bug in 2009, Omar should not be targeting only arms that have a proven track record of health. Because he can miss out on some very low cost, high rewards. The probability of Escobar staying healthy for all of 2010 and being an all-star setup man are low, but it’s only costing the Mets a little over $1M to take the gamble. So why not give Escobar a whirl? He’s only 33, has had almost 2 years to recooperate from labrum surgery, and could fill a void in the Mets’ bullpen at a bargain price. I would say reserve your judgement on the signing until we see how awful/rejuvenated Escobar looks in spring training. Otherwise, you’re basing your negative feelings on the signing on last year’s injury situation, which has absolutely nothing to do with Escobar’s personal health or ability to have a successful 2010.