Mike Pelfrey in Pinstripes
NOTE: this is an article by Matt Himelfarb, so direct your comments to him.
Andy Pettite’s recent retirement has left the Yankees scrambling to fill not one, but two black holes in the back their rotation. As of right now, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Mark Prior appear to be the leading candidates to claim those two spots.
Make no mistake, Garcia, Colon, and Prior would make for a fearsome trio in MVP Baseball 2003, but Yankees fans might as well pray Roger Clemens has one more comeback in him (hey, legal fees are expensive).
Enter Mike Pelfrey.
We’ve already discussed why it might make sense for the Mets to trade Pelfrey. From the Yankees perspective, Pelfrey is at least a guarantee to take the ball every fifth day and keep them in the game- which is more than the Bombers can say about the contenders they currently employ.
How much could the Mets demand in a trade? Pelfrey’s average WAR over the last three seasons is 2.5; assuming one win is worth about $4.5 million (although for the Yankees its’ certainly more), Pelfrey is worth about $11.25 million per year, and is under contract for the next three years ($33.75 million in value).
Pelfrey will make $3.925 million this season, following his first year of arbitration. Depending on his performance over the next two seasons, I predict he’ll make earn $5.75 million in 2012 , and perhaps $8 million in 2013, before hitting free agency. Thus, overall, he will be paid almost $18 million dollars, meaning Pelfrey is worth about $16 million in surplus value.
According to the handy trade value calculator, Pelfrey is worth about:
- Top 51-75 hitter, plus grade C talent.
- Top 76-100 hitter, plus a little more grade C talent.
- Top 11-50 pitcher.
- Top 51-75 pitcher, plus Grade C goodies.
- Top 76-100 pitcher, plus either a Grade B hitter or pitcher.
- Grade B pitcher and hitter, plus a couple Grade C throw-ins.
And if you’re more into Ricky Wiliams style quantity, I’m sure there are numerous other combinations to consider as well.
I’m somewhat surprised the trade calculator says Pelfrey really is worth that much, but the numbers don’t lie. While no one is confusing Pelfrey for Don Drysdale, having a solid pitcher under team control for the next three years is undoubtedly valuable.
If you compare Pelfrey to other pitchers traded during this off-season, there’s a strong reason to believe the Mets at least could have commanded a pretty decent haul. Pelfrey and Matt Garza have had almost identical career paths; Garza’s era. over the past few years has been consistently below 4, but their FIP, xFIP, are peripherals are very similar. Garza’s had the advantage of pitching in front of some the best defensive teams in Tampa during his career. Meanwhile, Pelfrey’s 2009 campaign was tarnished pitching in front of the likes of Alex Cora and Luis Castillo most of the season.
Now, the fact that the Cubbies traded half their farm system to acquire Garza underscores just how much of a moron Jim Hendry is, and probably doesn’t reflect the market’s demand for a pitcher of Garza’s caliber. If the Mets are lucky, they might be able to demand Dellin Betances.
More likely, however, they could probably grab some B-grade prospects- some respectable players in the upper minors (Hector Noesi, Andrew Brackman, Ivan Nova, Austin Romine), and/or some high-risk, high-reward guys in the lower minors (Slade Heathcott, Brett Marshall, Jose Ramirez). The Yankees can certainly afford to trade some of their younger pitchers, as it’s a position of strength for them.
Yes, I know it seems pretty inconceivable that the Mets, who are desperately trying to placate a disgruntled fanbase in the midst of the Wilpon debacle, would trade their opening day starter period, let alone to the Yankees. But now is the time to think big and be bold. This team has no expectations going into next season. Sandy Alderson is basically operating under full immunity. If the Mets lose 95 games next season, guess what? Sandy is still going to be cigar chomping in the owner’s suite (whoever’s it is) in 2012.
It’s time to start building toward then.