Billy Wagner signed with the Mets, as expected, to a large deal, as expected.
Using similar players from Baseball Reference, I could make comparisons for how players with similar statistics aged and performed in the twilight years of their career. For Wagner, though, I don't think this is a good strategy. Wagner's style and size (a 5'11" lefty who throws 100+ mph) is virtually unprecedented, in my mind. I can't compare that to Mo Rivera or any of the other similar guys on his list.
So I won't make projections about his future besides to say that I would be very surprised if Year 4 of this deal looks a lot like Year 1, especially in the K/PA department.
Unquestionably, the Mets overpaid for Wagner, even more so than the Blue Jays did for Ryan. The Mets, right now, are taking advantage of some of the projected revenue from the new network. People will accuse the Mets of spending a lot, but, in reality, they're actually just reinvesting some money that came off the books last year.
- Did not resign Piazza (-$15 million).
- Traded Cameron for Nady (-$6 million).
- Did not renew Looper's option (-$3.5 million).
- Mientkiewicz is gone, Stanton's contract is gone, Cedeno's contract is gone.
- Added in Delgado and Wagner (on average, $24 million per year).
Wagner's got a couple of things going for him: he's moving out of a hitter's park in Philly, although it didn't hurt his peripherals all that much. He's also further removed from his 2004 injury.
What about Prospectus' WXRL? (ML rank in parenthesis)
- 3.757 (16)
- 6.548 (3)
- 3.146 (22) in fewer innings than everyone else.
- 3.781 (18)
Wagner will probably be worth 4 more wins than Looper was this year.
Three other things:
- Many people will rightfully criticize the closer model and say that there's no way that 70 innings is worth that much money. The nature of the game, though, indicates that you use a closer and pay him a lot of money, almost at the level of starting pitchers. In that sense, the Wagner contract is unjustifiable.
- Relative to what other closers are paid, Wagner's at the top of the heap. He's also a Top 5 closer, so, in this sense, it's a good deal.
- Everything else aside, the no-trade clause and guaranteed fourth year will make this one look pretty bad in a couple of years.
"Shut up. I told you to shut up. If I want to spend $4 million on a ballplayer, I will. If I want to spend $12 million, I will. ... It's my goddamn money and I'll do what I want." - Ray Kroc, via Cot's Baseball Contracts. Right?
Interesting trivia: They say that G/F ratio is the most stable pitching stat, and Wagner embodies that quite well:
2001 - 1.19
2002 - 1.10
2003 - 1.14
2004 - 1.17
2005 - 1.15