The Arizona Diamondbacks signed recently acquired starting pitcher Elmer Dessens to a two-year, $7.3 M contract with an option for a third year. Here are the details thanks to the AP story:
The deal calls for salaries of $3 million this year and $4 million in 2004. Arizona has a $4.5 million option for 2005 with a $300,000 buyout. Bonus clauses could raise his 2004 salary by $250,000 and the amount of the option.
Dessens had a fine, overlooked season in 2002 (his ERA was 45% better than the adjusted league average), but at 31 he has only been a starter for about two and one-half years. Since going into the rotation in 2000, he has a 3.89 ERA and a 27-27 record. He has only had one 200-inning season, has never had more than 10 wins as a starter, and has only had a winning record once as a starter.
Here is a comparison of him as a starter and as a reliever in that period:
ERA IP AVG WHIP K/9IP K:BB
Starter 3.89 487.67 0.273 1.327 5.075 2.007
Reliever 4.43 42.667 0.318 1.523 6.539 2.818
Total 3.94 530.33 0.277 1.343 5.193 2.068
Note that even though his ERA and Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) improved in 2002, his strikeouts per nine innings and strikeouts-to-walks ratio took a dip and both are rather poor for a decent starter. That is usually a bad sign for a pitcher. It didn't hurt him for 2002 though it might this year.
I like Dessens, but the bottom line is that he is not a worth $3.5+ M a year, especially in this market. The more I hear about deals like this one, the ones by the Phils, the Giants' one with Neifi Perez, etc., the less I am inclined to believe in the collusion theories. Collusion doesn't work unless everyone, or maybe almost everyone, is on board. I am more and more inclined to believe that the players just signed a bad Collective Bargaining Agreement, one that incentivizes teams, especially bad teams, to cut payroll at any and all costs.