Would Carl Pavano Be a Good Investment?

Would Pavano be a good investment?

Possibly the best free agent starting pitcher remaining on the market right now is Carl Pavano.  Last night, John Perrotto tweeted that there were rumblings that the Pittsburgh Pirates could jump in on the bidding for Pavano.  Rob Biertempfel mentioned today that the Pirates would only be interested in Pavano if the price/years were right.

We don’t know what that means from the perspective of the Pirates, although we do know that Pavano is looking for Ted Lilly money, around three years and $33 M.  Pavano lost some leverage when Milwaukee added Zack Greinke, but still has the Minnesota Twins and Washington Nationals interested, so it would be hard to imagine him ending up with less than Lilly money.  The question is, would he be worth that price?

Pavano has been very injury prone during his career, pitching a combined 145.2 innings from 2005-2008.  He suffered a shoulder injury in late 2005, had back and wrist injuries in 2006, causing him to miss the entire year, missed the majority of the 2007 season with a forearm injury, then topped it off with Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss most of the 2008 season.

Pavano did return in 2009, pitching 199.1 innings, and while his 5.10 ERA wasn’t impressive, he was on the unlucky side, with a 3.96 xFIP.  In 2010 he threw 221 innings, with a 3.75 ERA and a 4.01 xFIP, showing that the 2009 season was mostly a result of poor luck.

Pavano has been about a 3.5 WAR pitcher over the last two seasons.  A 1.0 WAR player on the open market this off-season has been worth about $5 M, which makes Pavano worth $17.5 M a year if he can repeat his 2009/2010 success.  A three year deal for $11 M a year would be a steal for Pavano’s services if he can replicate those numbers.  However, getting that same production out of Pavano for the next three years is far from a guarantee.

Pavano’s injury history is a big concern, especially when you consider that he will be ages 35-37 during a three year deal.  If Pavano misses one season, he could still equal the value of the contract with two 3.5 WAR seasons (which would amount to $35 M in value).  If he misses more than one full season, it would be hard for him to reach the value of his deal.  Considering his injury history, and the fact that he’ll be in his upper 30s for this deal, it’s very possible that he could miss more than one season during this deal.

This is all pretty much a moot point, as the situation will likely play out like the Jorge De La Rosa situation.  Even if the Pirates are interested, and even if they make a competitive offer, Pavano would most likely go to the Twins, where he has a better chance of winning.  There’s also the Nationals to consider, as they over-paid to get Jayson Werth, and could do the same for Pavano.  I don’t see the Pirates over-paying for Pavano, and I don’t see Pavano choosing the Pirates if their offer is anywhere close to the Twins.  Even if the Pirates could land Pavano, his injury risk might not make the deal worthwhile, especially for three guaranteed years.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Anonymous

    What the Pirates need to do is trade bad contract for bad contract. The Phillies want to unload Joe Blanton — why not try to trade Doumit for him. The Pirates certainly have the room to take on the extra salary.

    Personaly, I don’t believe that the Piates ownership cares about winning. They make too much money being a talent grower/feeded to the serious MLB teams. I have not seen any evidenced that the Pirates want to pursue a winning ballclub . Heck, their GM was trying for 2 straight years to land JJ Hardy and failed. Its not like he cost a lot. So if the Pirates don’t have the will to get a minor deal like that done, why should I believe that they are serious about winning? The only evidence of Pirate’s seriousness that I have ever seen over the last 15 years is to maximize profits.

    • Justin


      you couldnt be more wrong. The Pirates are working to make this team better. You don’t realize how bad Dave Littlefield depleted the minor league system. Littlefield wanted to bring in year after year 30+ year olds who were over the hill and pay them more then they should of been paid(Burnitz and Sean Casey) Casey only signed because Littlefield loved local guys. Also you are not giving Huntington any credit. When they came in they had so much work to do to clean up the mess that Littlefield had made. They invested loads into exploring untapped markets for baseball. They are spending more then any team in the draft. A typical rebuild of a franchise can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years. Huntington and the Nutting regime are going to be starting Year #4 this coming season. You could name 2 players in the Pirates minor league system prior to Huntington taking over McCutchen and Walker. Now the system is so deep that you can name players from the Majors down to AA and A. The last 2 years the roster of players who were in Single A and Double AA have won their respective leagues. The team is moving along through the minors. That talent is due to be here soon. Now that talent is not in any thanks to Dave Littlefield. About 75 to 80% of that talent is from trades Huntington made to better this Franchise.I understand people are frustrated they have been losing so long but when you predecessor did what he did they had a mess to clean up. The talent should be here soon. I think we will see an onfield improvement this year. The real deal is gonna be in 2012. That is the time that most of the deals Huntington made should start to pay off and then from there it will get better. With the likes of Jaimison Taillon, Luis Heredia and Stetson Allie in the system the future is gonna be better.

      As for the Doumit trade. I am with you on that one. The Pirates need to dump him. Realize we wont get much for him but the guy is a negative energy on the team and really cant do much. I would be fine with flat out releasing him but as i stated about Huntington doing as much as he can to get something if anything for him

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