The New York Mets and Oliver Perez came to terms today on a three year/$36 million dollar contract with NO vesting option for a fourth season. The deal looks to be a major coup for the Mets, who now retain the young yet enigmatic Perez at a somewhat reasonable rate. This contract is much better than the 5 years/$60 million dollar contract that I thought Perez would get at the end of the season.
By now, we all know the deal with Perez. When Perez is on, he is a great pitcher and at times, unhittable. He is an absolute stud against left handed hitters and has a great track record against the Phillies, Braves, and Yankees. If he could ever get his control together for an entire season, the sky is truly the limit for Perez.
After watching Perez for the past two seasons, I can honestly tell you that he is not worth $12 million per season. Eve though he has ace stuff, he will probably will never be confused for an ace because he has never been able to maintain his control for an entire season (besides 2004).
Nevertheless, I still like this deal for the Mets. The Mets smartly realized that there were no other serious bidders for Perez and thus refused to give into Boras and his large demands. Because of this, the Mets were able to sign Perez to a short and modest contract that will protect the club should Perez implode or get hurt.
Also, Perez fills a number of voids in the Mets rotation. He is a solid front to middle of the rotation starter, a lefty, not injury prone, and is only 27 years old, which suggests that Perez's best years should still be ahead of him.
With Perez now in the fold, the 2009 Mets rotation is nearly identical to the 2008 rotation with the exception of Tim Redding. Many will criticise the Mets and say that it is foolish to come back in 2009 with virtually the same rotation, but I think that's hogwash. The 2008 Mets rotation gave the team lots of opportunities to win ball games and make it to the playoffs, but the bullpen ultimately blew 29 saves last season. It's amazing to think that the Mets still won 89 games with that kind of production from the bullpen.
So I think it's quite likely that the Mets rotation will become a strength in 2009. If Mike Pelfrey continues his ascent, John Maine can stay healthy, and Oliver Perez can find his control; then I see no reason why the Mets cannot win 95+ games with the bullpen they have now.
You can certainly make the case that Omar Minaya should still make a push for Ben Sheets, who is still a free agent because of injury concerns. I would love to see Sheets with the Mets because he could give the Mets another ace to go along with Johan Santana if he's healthy. The Mets would really make noise with a healthy Sheets in their rotation. However, I think Minaya is pretty comfortable right now having Tim Redding and Freddy Garcia compete to be the fifth starter.
Now with their rotation set, it would be great to see the Mets make a push for Juan Cruz, Will Ohman, or Joe Biemel. Even though the Mets have dramatically improved their bullpen, I still believe that they can take advantage of this terrible market by signing a great relief pitcher to a team friendly deal. The Mets need all the quality arms they can get in the bullpen and I think either guy would make a fantastic addition.
Make it happen Omar!