Photo: AP Images
Carl Pavano had a very good 2010 season, winning 17 games and posting a 3.75 ERA for the Twins. He was able to parlay that into a two-year, $16.5 million contract with the Twins, which should not come as a surprise. Pavano has a habit of coming up big when he is about to hit free agency.In his 13 years, Pavano has played four seasons in which he was a free agent at the end of the year (2004, 2008, 2009, 2010). In those seasons Pavano is 53-33 with a 4.01 ERA and a 3.10 strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.00 is considered very good).
In the other nine seasons, Pavano is a combined 44-56 with a 4.62 ERA and a pedestrian 2.22 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In fact, of those nine seasons, he has one year in which he never pitched in the big leagues (2006) and only one season with more than 8 wins or more than 140 innings pitched. And yet, in the four seasons heading into free agency, he has averaged 13.3 wins and 169 innings pitched.
Looking back on his four years with the Yankees after he signed his first free agent contract, we see what is one of the biggest busts in free agency history. In any sport.
Pavano’s four-year, $40 million contract proved to be worth a whopping $4.2 million to the Yankees on the field. And Gil Meche decided not to take the $12 million the Royals owed him? It hardly seems fair.
And while a contract like this would have set most teams back a decade, the Yankees won the AL East twice and went to the playoffs three times while Pavano was wearing pinstripes. Why? Because the most important thing a $200 million payroll buys, is mistake insurance. The Yankees made a mistake with Pavano. But they were able to cover it up with other acquisitions.
And amazingly, this did not keep Brian Cashman from talking with Pavano about possibly returning to the Yankees in 2011.
Now THAT would have been fun to watch this summer.
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