Coming off an injury plagued 2008, Brad Penny has agreed to a 1-year, $5 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, according to Sean McAdam of The Boston Herald (click here for the post). There could be an additional $3 million in incentives and performance bonuses, making this a very palatable deal for the Sox in my opinion. He joins Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield in the rotation, leaving Justin Masterson in the bullpen and Clay Buchholz as an insurance policy at Triple A.
Could this open the door for the long rumored Buchholz for Jarrod Saltalamacchia deal? Possibly, but that’s not the issue for today and it is pure speculation. Right now we should focus on Penny and if he is a usable option for your fantasy rotation at the tail end of your draft.
Last season Penny was inneffective, though he did miss time thanks to tendinitis in his shoulder. He went 6-9 with a 6.31 ERA and 1.63 WHIP over 94.2 innings. If healthy, however, he’s a tremendously better pitcher then that. In 2007 he was among the best in the NL, going 16-4 with a 3.03 ERA and still has that potential considering he’ll be just 30-years old on opening day.
Still, the fact that the Dodgers declined his option, which was for a reasonable $8.75 million, opting instead to pay a $2 million buyout has to have you a little bit concerned. Maybe it’s because they wanted to allocate that money for other players (Manny Ramirez anyone?), but it certainly left them with a void in their rotation so you have to wonder if the Dodgers are worried about his health.
He’s a risk, there’s no doubt about that, and there is little chance that he’s going to put up elite numbers pitching in the AL for the first time in his career. An ERA at or above 4.00 should not surprise anyone pitching in the AL East. He is not among the best strikeout pitchers in the league, despite being a hard thrower, with a career K/9 of 6.36. Without facing the pitcher every couple of innings, it’s unlikely he outperforms that number. Still, he should be significantly better then he was in ’08 and pitching for the Red Sox should have plenty of chances to get victories.
That adds up to a flier as a last round pick as an injury-risk pitcher who could pay huge dividends, but not much past that. If you are in an auction league, consider him for the inevitable dollar derby to close out the auction when you are filling out your roster. There is just way too much risk involved, especially with the Yankees & Rays in his division.
On a side note, McAdam notes that Red Sox also signed Josh Bard to a deal, but he’ll be nothing more then back-up and depth option. He has no fantasy value to speak of.