Drew Silva

Hot Stove Blog

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Paying Papelbon

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The start of spring training is a little over one month away and our player news page is about to be inundated with notes about Opening Day pitchers, depth chart changes and position battles. We'll be covering everything from A to Z.

Before the baseball world turns its eyes from the hot stove to a cluster of small ballparks in Arizona and Florida, let's wrap up a batch of recent storylines...

That 'Stache Just Belongs In Minnesota, Right?

We think so.

The Twins agreed to a two-year contract with mustached right-hander Carl Pavano a full 13 days ago but didn't officially sign off on the deal until Wednesday evening.

Pavano, 35, will earn $8 million this season and $8.5 million next season on what is essentially a two-year, $16.5 million contract. He can also earn another $500,000 via performance-based incentives.

It's a good deal. Pavano is old, but his velocity hasn't taken a major hit and he managed a cool 3.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP across 32 starts last season. He also struck out 117 batters and walked only 37 in 221 innings of work, playing a key role in the Twins' march to the American League Central crown.

As fantasy-centric folks, we love that Pavano is back in the Twin Cities. The new and widely loved Target Field held home runs better than any park in the majors last year and will keep the right-hander relevant in fantasy leagues all year despite an underwhelming strikeout rate.

The White Sox have improved offensively this winter with the addition of designated slugger Adam Dunn and they've made their intentions known about topping the Twins for the division title. But Minnesota is again armed and ready to fight it out.

Red Sox Fork Over $12 Million To Papelbon

Baseball's arbitration process is generally a positive thing in that it can reward deserving players with large sums of cash before they are able to get a taste of free agency. But there are other times when it just seems sort of silly.

The Red Sox avoided the need for an arbitration hearing with closer Jonathan Papelbon on Tuesday by agreeing to a $12 million contract for 2011. It's a ridiculous sum of money, especially when you consider that Papelbon posted a career-high 3.90 ERA and eight blown saves last season.

He's not nearly as effective as he once was and he should fall out of the elite rung of fantasy closers in most draft guides this spring. Despite the lofty salary, the Red Sox could choose to install Daniel Bard in the ninth inning this summer after one or two of Paps' hiccups.

Bard already has closer-type stuff and is ready to become a fantasy star.

Yankees, Yankees, Yankees. Pettitte, Pettitte, Pettitte.

That's how the headlines are reading on some sites these days. The Yankees' season ended on Friday, October 22 -- almost three months ago -- and yet veteran southpaw Andy Pettitte has not reached a decision as to whether he wants to return for a 16th major league season or hang up his cleats for good.

Pettitte has his reasons for the extended delay and it sounds like his decision has more to do with his desire to spend more time with his family than it has to do with money. That's all fine, but the wait is killing the Yankees.

Brian Cashman and Co. won't want to hand a contract to a guy like Justin Duchscherer or Kevin Millwood without first getting a decision from Pettitte, and it sounds like those two scrap heap free agent starters might soon be nearing agreements with other clubs.

Pettitte needs to be fair. He needs to make a decision soon so that the Yankees can either move on or plan a new strategy for their starting rotation. Oh, and so we know whether to recommend selecting the left-hander in upcoming fantasy drafts. OK, that was a bit selfish.

Meche Rides Into The Sunset, His Wallet Far Skinnier

Royals starter Gil Meche shocked the baseball world Tuesday when he announced his sudden retirement from the game.

The 32-year-old explained in a short statement that he would have required another surgery on his throwing arm in order to pitch this year and that he felt bad about taking up $12 million worth of the Royals' 2011 budget while resting and rehabbing.

That's right. He left $12 million on the table.

Professional athletes have the right to cash every single one of the checks given to them by professional sports franchises, but it's awfully refreshing to find an athlete who is so aware of what that paycheck means. By leaving it behind, he's allowing the Royals to grow. The club already has a ton of young talent creeping toward the majors and now they might have some flexibility to build around those prospects. A tip of the cap here to Mr. Meche.

Drew Silva is a baseball editor for Rotoworld and also contributes on NBC Sports' Hardball Talk. He can be found on Twitter.
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