Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Carmona's Back?

Should the Indians exercise the 2012 option of Fausto Carmona?
Fausto Carmona made 6.1 million in 2011 while posting an ugly 7-15 record with a 5.20 ERA in 188.2 innings pitched. The Indians hold three options on Carmona which would pay him 7 million in 2012, 9 million in 2013, and 12 million in 2014 (Cot's Baseball Contracts).  The Indians will decide shortly on whether to pick up the 2012 option which would also void out the 2013 and 2014 options. If the Indians decline the 2012 option they still have Carmona for the 2012 season as he only has 5 years and 125 days of service time, 47 days short of becoming an unrestricted free agent. (A player needs 6 years of service time to become an unrestricted free agent and a year is considered to be 172 days.)

The missing service time came in 2009 when on June 5th after starting the season 2-6 with a 7.42 ERA over his first 12 starts the Indians brass felt he needed to rebuild his body, his mind, and his mechanics so they sent him to the Player Development Complex in Goodyear, Arizona. He worked his way from Goodyear, to Lake County, Akron, and Columbus and finally made his return to the Indians on July 30th. The 54 days spent away from the major league club is why Carmona is only arbitration eligible heading into the 2012 season.

The Indians could decline the 2012 option and offer Carmona arbitration for the 2012 season. By current collective bargaining rules the Indians may not offer less than 80% of the player's salary and performance bonuses the previous year; therefore, the Indians could decline the option and enter an arbitration figure of 4.9 million. Carmona's agent most likely would ask for between 5.5 and 7 million. The Indians, who haven't been to an arbitration hearing in over 20 years (1991 Jerry Brown lost and Greg Swindell won), most likely would settle on some kind of middle ground contract in the neighborhood of 5-6 million.

The question the Indians need to answer is whether or not its worth it to void out the 2013 and 2014 options to save around a million dollars? Does Carmona have more trade value this winter with 3 years of team control versus only 1 year? If Carmona pitches effectively in 2012 could he be the difference between another year of .500 baseball or more? If he pitches well and the Indians aren't in contention for the AL Central title or the Wild Card is he more valuable with 1/2 a year of service or 2.5 years of service? 

The next question is based on performance to date is it possible for Carmona to turn things around and pitch well enough to be worthy of his 2012 option and beyond? In my opinion, the best move for the Indians is to pick up the 2012 option and see what the market holds for Carmona this winter. After all, if Carmona was to perform poorly in 2012 it would only cost the Indians an extra million or so.

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