Sunday, December 19, 2010

How Does the Greinke Trade Affect Pavano's Prospects?

With Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies and Zach Greinke being traded to the Brewers, Carl Pavano can finally claim that he (and he alone) is the undisputed "best starting pitcher available" on the free agent market.  That's kind of sad if you think about it.  It's only December 19th, and the best available pitcher is Carl (bleeping) Pavano?  It just goes to show how weak this year's free agent pitching crop has been.

Zach Greinke's trade to Milwaukee will probably end up having a pretty large effect on the Carl Pavano contract drive.  As I reported ten days ago, the Brewers were in "very productive discussions" with Pavano and his agent on a contract that would bring him to the Cream City.*  Contract talks never got very far because Milwaukee was reluctant to offer a guaranteed third year to Pavano.  Presumably they had concerns about giving a three year contract to a pitcher that was on the wrong side of 30.  This shouldn't be surprising considering how well the Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf signings have worked out.  Now that they've acquired Greinke, this seems to be a moot point.  The Brew Crew's rotation is full, and there's no room for Pavano or his salary.

* Yes, that actually is one of the nicknames for Milwaukee.  Others included Brew City, Mil Town, City of Festivals, and "The Only American City to Elect Three Socialist Mayors."  Ok.  That last one isn't actually one of Milwaukee's nicknames, but it is a fact. 

So where does Pavano go from here?  Well, I hear the Yankees are in need of a starting pitcher.  (snicker)  I'm just kidding of course.  I'm sure Brian Cashman would find walking through the South Bronx projects late at night while flashing $50K in bling more appealing than re-sign Pavano.  Also, I'm pretty sure he'd get fired for even cracking a joke about signing Pavano, so the Yankees are definitely out.

The Rangers look like a decent fit.  They definitely have money to spend after losing out on both Cliff Lee and Zach Greinke.  Now that most of the big targets are off of the board, it's unclear how much money the Rangers will be willing to spend this offseason.  They may decide that it's wiser to save up their money for when Prince Fielder hits the market after the 2011 season.  Currently, the Rangers are reported to be interested in Adrian Beltre and Vlad Guerrero as well.  If Pavano is interested in signing with them, he may need to move with some urgency. 

The Nationals are also reported to be interested in Pavano.  They've been pretty active throughout the offseason on some of the biggest targets.  They made a huge splash with the Jayson Werth signing; were involved in the Cliff Lee bidding; and nearly traded for Zach Greinke before he invoked his no trade clause.  With Stephen Strasburg expected to miss the entire 2011 campaign while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Nationals rotation is full of bottom of the rotation and replacement level starters.  (Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis are projected to be their top two starters.  Ouch!)  The Nationals will likely be very aggressive in acquiring Pavano, and may be willing to overpay. 

According to several reports by Pavano's teammates, he's indicated would prefer to stay in the Twin Cities.  As such, the Twins seem to be the odds on favorite to retain Pavano.  With Greinke being traded to one of Pavano's most ardent suitors (Brewers), this could actually give the Twins a little bit of extra leverage when it comes to contract negotiations.  Pavano is reported to be looking a contract similar to the one Ted Lilly signed with the Dodgers in November (3 years $33M).  With the Brewers out of the running, the Twins might be able to negotiate Pavano down to 3 years at $10M per season.  While it remains to be seen what his other suitors are willing to offer, this seems like a very reasonable contract for someone with Pavano's talent.  Still, this scenario seems somewhat unlikely.  This year's free agent market has turned out heavily favor the players.  In the end, Pavano would probably be smart to hold out for another couple of weeks in hopes of triggering a bidding war between interested parties.

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