The New York Mets have recently reached an agreement with pitcher Kelvim Escobar. It has been reported that he will likely work out of the bullpen as a setup man for Francisco Rodriguez. The contract is incentive-laden, with Escobar earning a $1.25MM base salary, plus a $125K bonus for making the Opening Day roster. Plus, he can make up to $2MM based on games pitched and $1MM more for games finished.
The 33 year-old is clearly seen as a low-risk, high-reward contract and his final salary could be either $1.25 million or up over $4 million. Escobar missed all of the 2008 season due to shoulder surgery, and those problems lingered last season as he was only able to make one start for the Los Angeles Angels. Escobar has never pitched in the National League; he has spent his entire career with the Angels and Toronto Blue Jays.
Between 2004 and 2007 with the Angels, Escobar was in the prime of his career posting an ERA under 4.00 in each of those seasons mostly as a starter. He appeared in 109 games, starting 100 of them. Then came the shoulder surgery in the 2008 offseason. Since he was pitching so well just before surgery, the Mets must think he has a shot at returning to that form as a setup man.
In his time with the Blue Jays, Escobar spent the entire 2002 season as a closer earning 38 saves and posting an ERA of 4.27, so he has experience pitching late in ballgames. In 2003, he started the year in the bullpen but was moved to the rotation in late May.
It is very difficult to make a prediction on this signing because he has only pitched five innings in two seasons, but I view this as a respectable signing by the Mets. The $1.25 million base salary is reasonable, and if he outperforms expectations, both he and the Mets will be rewarded.
I would like to hear your opinions and/or predictions on this signing. Are the Mets smart in taking a chance on Escobar? Or should they be entirely focused on their more pressing needs such as Bengie Molina and Jason Bay/Matt Holliday?
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