Now that the winner of the Cliff Lee sweepstakes has been decided, the attention can turn to the rest of the free agent market. Carl Pavano is now the best free agent starting pitcher on the open market, and with Lee making a surprise move in returning to Philadelphia, teams have been left scrambling.
Pavano turned down the Twins' offer of arbitration in late November, effectively starting his time as a Type A free agent. Pavano has said that while he is entertaining offers from other organizations, he will give the Twins the opportunity to match the offers that are placed.
Carl Pavano could potentially solidify the Twins stability at the top of the rotation in 2011, but there is reason to believe that bringing Pavano back into the fold in 2011 could prove to be more harmful than helpful as the Twins look to defend their Central division championship.
With Cliff Lee Unavailable, Pavano's Stock Has Risen
When Cliff Lee ultimately decided to shake up the free agency period by signing with a team other than the New York Yankees, he sent franchises scrambling for an answer to their own issues. Besides the Yankees, the Texas Rangers and Anaheim Angels were noted as options for Lee.
It would be a shock if the Yankees ended up bringing back Carl Pavano after the his disastrous stay in New York in 2005-08. A 9-8 record with a 5.00 ERA is disappointing for any starting pitcher over a three year period, but when you combine that with the fact that it came with a price tag of $30 million, a second stint in New York seems doubtful at best.
Still, teams like the Rangers and Angels could definitely make a move towards signing Pavano. The Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers have also been identified as teams pursuing his services - and with Pavano being the best option currently available, the asking price could very well go up.
Pavano Wants More Years Than Twins Want to Give
After displaying the success that Pavano has since heading to Minnesota, the Twins starter is seeking longer term stability than arbitration can offer. Since Pavano joined the Twins in late 2009, he has a combined 22-15 record with a 3.97 ERA. Pavano’s consistency has been an important part of the Twins success, as his high number of complete games and ability to control pitch counts have provided the bullpen with occasional breaks from action.
A performance over such a span would warrant a long term deal for almost any pitcher. Pavano’s case is different however – as he will turn 35 before entering spring training in 2011. A long term deal would be out of the question for Pavano, as his performance will likely decline as the years progress.
Nevertheless, Pavano’s camp seems to be holding out for a suitor that will offer a three or four year deal, while it’s becoming apparent that the Twins would prefer to keep Pavano for two years if he were to remain a Twin.
Twins Need to Move Towards Youth, Bring in Greinke
While bringing back Carl Pavano as a number two starter for the Twins in 2011 may be an option, his age prevents him from being a long term solution for the franchise.
The Twins have been mentioned as a potential suitor for the services of Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke, a move that would make sense for the team.
It seems a long shot at best for Greinke to end up with the Twins in 2011, as trading within the division typically comes with a higher asking price, and other teams may offer a more attractive package to the Royals. However even if the Twins don't end up with Greinke, they'll ultimately need to pursue options that will be long term options to accompany Fransisco Liriano at the top of the rotation.
The Success of Pavano's 2010 Likely Won't be Duplicated
Breaking down Carl Pavano’s 2010 season will show the most consistent numbers of any starter in the Twins’ staff. Pavano’s 17 win season is the second most of his career, bested only by his all-star campaign in 2004. The 3.75 ERA that Pavano was able to earn is also the second best full season of his career, again only lower with the Marlins in 2004.
Pavano’s career numbers have been far more mediocre, with a 97-89 overall record and an ERA just under 4.50. Pavano’s overall performance declined as the innings piled up throughout the 2010 season, and since Pavano isn’t getting any younger, it’s likely that his 2010 stat line won’t look the same in 2011, no matter what team he plays for.
The current state of the Twins' rotation is far from stable, and with the struggles that pitchers Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker endured at times in 2010, the Twins may feel obligated to bring Pavano in to add consistency. Still, the Twins need to think long and hard about signing Pavano to a contract outside of their comfort zone, as the risk could very well outweigh the reward.