Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com is reporting that the Indians, Phillies Orioles and Cubs are all taking a look at free agent reliever Edward Mujica, who most recently pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Mujica may likely be looking for a three-year deal, at or near $21 million overall. I can’t imagine that he’s going to be making that much money, right? I can’t imagine that the Indians are going to give him that kind of money, right?
But here’s the thing: Mujica’s been a really good reliever over the past three seasons. since 2011, his ERA is 2.06 over that stretch, with 156 K’s and 31 walks in 202 games and 216 innings. He’s also saved 39 games, including 37 last year for the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Let’s put that in perspective.
Joe Smith’s ERA over the past three seasons has been a stout 2.21 in 213 games and 197 innings pitched. He’s only saved three games, but who really cares about that stat anyways.
I know these are rudimentary stats, but the point is made here. A really good case is made that Joe Smith has been a superior pitcher, and at best, Mujica is an equal. Perhaps our resident metrics guru Michael Hattery can delve a bit deeper into this than I have, but that’s for another day.
Smith just signed a three-year deal with the Angels, paying him $15 .75 million.
Do you really want to sign Mujica to a similar deal or more, for likely the same amount of years? Granted, Mujica is three years younger than Smith, but Mujica has also thrown in 60-plus more innings in his career, and in almost 60 less games, so I’m not sure the age-factor is applicable here.
Should the Indians be in on Mujica? Sure, I think the Indians should do their due diligence. If Mujica would be willing to come to Cleveland on a one year deal for $5 million, I’d be moderately interested. I wouldn’t be crazy about it, but I’d be interested. I’d be more interested in a two-year, $6 million deal, but does anyone think he’s going to sign for that?
If the Indians weren’t willing to give Joe Smith the money to re-sign, why would they then go out and give a potentially inferior pitcher a deal with a similar pay structure?
It just doesn’t make any sense.
What it comes down to is what is Chris Antonetti and the Indians’ front office willing to spend for a reliever? Are they going to give someone $5 million dollars a year, and are they going to go over one year to do it?
The answers to both questions seem highly unlikely to me.
The one-year is a tough sell for guys that are able to make $5 million, because they’ll likely be able to command a multi-year contract from a team (like the Angels) that is in need of a quality reliever.
The multi-year deal is a touch sell for the Indians, who have historically not been willing to give a reliever a long-term, high-dollar contract. Just saying that gives me the shivers, as memories of Kerry Wood and his two-year, $20.5 million dollar contract pop into my head.
Unless the Indians and Mujica can meet somewhere in the middle on years, as well as money, than this deal really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. This is especially true when you consider the other teams that are reportedly interested in the former Tribe-hand.
I doubt there’s going to be meeting in the middle for a pitcher that has the type of demand that Mujica likely has right now from teams like the Phillies, the Orioles and the Cubs, but stranger things have happened.
If the Indians don’t have to commit the type of years and money that are rumored, than this could be a good deal. I just don’t see it happening in this November market.
Of course, Mujica hasn’t signed yet, and you never know what December, January and February could bring.