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December 20, 2007 at 12:43 PM

Silva press conference at 4 p.m.

UPDATE (2:55 p.m.): As some of you have noted, your names aren’t appearing next to your comments. We’ve got the engineer working on that one as well. Hopefully, it will be figured out soon.
12:43 p.m. Carlos Silva is apparently in Seattle and will attend a 4 p.m. press conference at Safeco Field to announce the signing. Deal is for four years, as we reported this morning. The club never announces the financial terms, as per its policy of keeping secrets, but we’ll get those in one form or another by day’s end. Go with the $44 million figure until you hear otherwise — though Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is saying it’s a $48-million package.
Speaking of the money figure, so many of you appear to be up-in-arms over the cost of this deal. I agree that $12 million per season does seem high for a pitcher with a losing record and only slightly above-average ERA totals. But welcome to the wacky world of MLB salaries. The thing is, as long as Silva stays healthy, the money totals should become less significant with each passing year. Case in point? Jarrod Washburn.

So many folks were going crazy criticizing the four-year, $37.5-million deal he got in 2005. But here’s the thing: two seasons into it and $9.4 million per year for a league average lefthanded starter who just won 10 games is about the going rate. What about the three-year, $25-million contract handed to Miguel Batista a year ago? At $8.3 million per season, Batista is now looking like a bargain — especially as a 16-game winner. Like it or not, win totals do inflate salaries (think Carl Pavano), no matter how flukey some of those wins may have been.
I remember the uproar two years ago when the Toronto Blue Jays signed A.J. Burnett to a five-year, $55-million contract. Two years into it, Burnett has had some health issues, but realistically is looking like an OK signing right now at $11-million per annum. He’s at least as good as Carlos Silva when he’s healthy. And that gets us back to the original point about health.
These longer deals of four or five years usually become troublesome for issues of health rather than actual dollar signs. Did the M’s truly overpay for Silva? We’ll know the answer in a couple of years if he misses a season with a blown out elbow ligament. But if he stays healthy, the way Washburn and Batista have to this point, you get a slightly above-average pitcher for what should be a below-market rate.
Yes, below market.
Back in 2004, the big name on the mid-range list of free-agent starters was Matt Clement. He wound up getting a $25.5-million contract over three years. That was for a relatively young guy still not yet 30. There was plenty of teeth-gnashing over that one, but look what’s happened since. You had Burnett signing for $11 million per annum a year later. Jason Schmidt, another middle-of-the-road guy, got a three-year, $47-million deal from the Dodgers a year ago. This year, in a lousy free-agent class, a guy who managed some average-looking numbers in Japan, Hiroki Kuroda, got nearly $12 million per season from the Los Angeles Dodgers — and opted to forego a fourth year from two other clubs.
Face it, the cost of pitching is not going down. So, when you think about Silva, try to think of it two ways:
No. 1 — As the first component to a two-pronged upgrade that also sees Erik Bedard come in. The M’s could do worse than a rotation where Washburn or Silva or Batista becomes the fifth starter.
No. 2 — In terms of health, not dollar signs. If Silva stays healthy, wins in double-digits and puts up league-average numbers, which he’s done up to now, the dollars won’t seem that significant come 2009 — or even 12 months from today.
Besides, it’s not your money. As long as the team doesn’t slash payroll down to $80 million a year from now, the concern about an extra million or two here or there shouldn’t be something fans get all that hung up on.



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