Friday, December 29, 2006

Did the Royals really overpay Meche?

Barry Zito signed a 7-year, $126 million deal with the Giants yesterday, continuing the trend of overpriced starting pitching. The two top starters in the free agent market pulled over $15 million a year. But, they are clearly the two best starters available and will fill the ace role nicely for any team willing to spend the money.

Here's a list of the contracts given to the top free agent starters this offseason. The dashed line separates the two tiers of starters.

Ranked in terms of cost:
1. Barry Zito, 28 (7 years at $18 million/yr, total: $126 million)
2. Jason Schmidt, 33 (3 years at $15.7 million/yr, total $47 million)
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3. Gil Meche, 28 (5 years at $11 million/yr, total: $55 million)
4. Jeff Suppan, 31 (4 years at $10.5 million/yr, total: $42 million)
5. Ted Lilly, 30 (4 years at $10 million/yr, total: $40 million)
6. Miguel Bautista, 35 (3 years at $8.33 million/yr, total: $25 million)
7. Adam Eaton, 29 (3 years at $8.17 million/yr, total $24.5 million)

Meche was the most expensive pitcher out of the second-tier of starters in terms of contract length and cost per year. Was this justified by his market value or did the Royals overpay?

Justified:

Meche is the youngest of the free agent starters listed above. That certainly increases his market value. Meche also has the most upside of the second-tier starters, although Eaton is close. Eaton had a poor year which hurt his market value considerably. Suppan and Bautista are considerably older and are league-average starters, so there's no upside there. In terms of upside, age, and recent performance, Meche is the best available pitcher.

Overpaid:

The main downside to Meche is his past injury problems. Giving a 5-year contract to an injury prone player is certainly risky business. Meche also struggled in 2004 and 2005, most likely because of injury problems. He had a good season last year, with a 4.48 ERA and a 1.86 K/BB. Will his success continue or was it just an anomaly?

Conclusion: The Royals signed Meche for a deal that was reasonable for the market.

2 Comments:

At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrong! He was overpaid!

 
At 12:58 AM, Anonymous Gil Meche said...

You STILL think I'm overpaid? All I did was just 14 games with a team that can't hit its plate with a fork!

 

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