We're back to baseball a bit more frequently here. Spring Training has started. Deal with it. Anyway, let's examine the offseason of Odalis Perez. Much like the movie Benjamin Button, Odalis Perez is not very good. He is just about the definition of middling left-handed innings-eater, which is a designation given to pitchers who don't do anything well excepting repeatedly walking out to the mound (Here I am thinking of Livan Hernandez, aka the Pitcher of Fail). However, that in itself has some value. If a baseball team thin on pitching finds itself holding onto someone such as Perez or Jon Garland, this can prevent them from having to use a pitcher blatantly unready for the job (Or - FSM forbid - sign Jeff Weaver), causing them to plummet in the standings. Simply by being consistently slightly below-average, Odalis Perez can help a baseball team.
I'm not going to go too much into the economics here (Unless someone out there in Reader-/Immediate Familyland wants the details), but by and large, a win on the free agent market will cost a team about $4.5 million dollars. Now, with the market cratering this past offseason, top-tier players were not affected much by this. However, the dollar values for marginal players, such as Perez, went down significantly. A comparable player to him is last year's teammate Tim Redding, who received $2 million guaranteed for one season from the NY Mets to be a below-average innings sponge (Last year Redding was worth 1.1 Wins Above Replacement (level), while Perez was worth 1.5 (As a fun aside, Oliver Perez, the Mets new $36 million-dollar man, was worth 1.3 WAR last year). From 2005 to 2007, Perez was worth 4.5 wins (Yeah consistency!). Redding was worth -0.4. He got $2 million why exactly?). Basically, the Mets are throwing a wad of gauze at a gushing artery of a fifth-starter spot here, which is a good low-cost option. However, Perez received only an $850,000 offer to re-sign with his old team, the Washington Nationals, with the contract being unguaranteed. Beyond it being fairly inexplicable that Perez could not get more than this, it's a strange move for the Nationals as well.
You see, gauze pitchers are really only valuable to a team close to contention looking to patch up a glaring weakness. For a team like the Nats, where every single position can be reasonably considered a glaring weakness (Bye Jim Bowden! You'll be missed!), Perez has virtually no value at all (Since that's also pretty much the dollar figure he signed for, the deal did make a bit of sense, I suppose). But the fact that no contenders scooped in to pick him up at the ridiculously low price his services went for over the winter is incomprehensible. Fortunately for them, they now get another chance. Evidently getting into a bit of the economics himself, Perez decided he was underpaid and refused to report to camp with the rest of the team, a move which led to the Nationals promptly releasing him, thereby ending their hopes of contention this year (Also next year, the year after that, and pretty much until 2015, when hopefully the damage done by Bowden will have been fixed by a competent successor). As a free agent the second time around, Perez remains unsigned.
But what if there were a team looking to contend, a team with a large payroll that could easily afford another small contract, and above all else a team currently penciling in as their fifth starter a man who has pitched a total of 54.3 innings over the last 2 years (At a cost of $33 million) because his right arm is attached to his body with scotch tape, baling twine and prayers? Yes, I am talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, does anyone out there really think Jason Schmidt is a viable fifth starter? Anyone? Show of hands, please. Jason, put yours down before you hurt yourself. So LA, this makes sense. If you have to hire a hitman to kill Slappy Pierre to get rid of his contract so that you can afford this relative pittance, do it. Actually, if that's a possibility at all, you should do it. But that's a different story. Odalis' agent (Who is DEFINITELY NOT ME) eagerly awaits your call.