I am glad that baseball does not have a salary cap and what’s to follow should in no way, shape or form be construed as any type of argument in favor of any type of salary restriction.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, Mets fan John Coppinger posted on his Facebook account:
“We live in a world where Oliver Perez is more untradeable than Eddy Curry.”
The only reason this is true is because expiring deals have value in the NBA. The Knicks have been trying to trade Curry since Donnie Walsh took over and it’s only now, with one-half a season remaining on his six-year, $60 million deal, that anyone was willing to take on his carcass, uh, I mean contract. Curry’s deal allowed the Knicks to take on the salary of Carmelo Anthony and stay under the cap.
But what if MLB had a salary cap? What would Perez and his expiring deal be worth to the Mets? I’m no expert, but I believe NBA rules allow trades up to 125% of contract value. So the Mets could take on a $15 million contract in return for Perez. Or a team could trade a $10 million dollar contract and receive Perez.
So, the Mets could trade Oliver Perez and his expiring deal to the Braves for Derek Lowe and the $30 million he is owed through the 2012 season. Both teams would probably say no to this deal but it is an example of what is possible. Maybe the Orioles would be interested in shedding the remaining $30 million owed Brian Roberts over the next three seasons.
Perhaps if the Mets packaged the expiring deals of Perez and Luis Castillo, a combined $18 million, which would allow them to take back between $14.4 and $22.5 million in salary this year, we would really have something.
It is not impossible that the Cardinals want to free up money for Pujols and would deal Matt Holliday and his $17 million this year and his remaining $103 million (including 2017 buyout) for our disgraced duo.
Or maybe the Cubs cut ties with Carlos Zambrano ($17.875/$35.875), who they feuded with last year. In his last 10 starts in 2010, Zambrano was 8-0 with a 1.24 ERA, with 57 Ks in 65.1 IP. While Holliday would be of dubious benefit to the Mets, Zambrano fills a definite need.
Do the Red Sox view the John Lackey ($15.25/$61 million) contract as an albatross? Would Boston view $61 million owed over the next four years as too much money for a pitcher who delivered just 1.9 bWAR last season? Would Mets fans be happy with a guy who averaged 201 IP the past eight years, rather than the collection of guys coming back from arm injuries that are battling for rotation slots now?
The Tigers have a lot of money wrapped up in problem child Miguel Cabrera ($20 million/$106 million). Would concerns over his drinking problems make a deal for Perez, Castillo and Ike Davis palatable from their point of view? Would Sandy Alderson sacrifice his payroll flexibility in 2012 to acquire a guy who could drink himself out of baseball, but who might be the best hitter this side of Pujols if he can stay on the field?
Let’s end with an off-the-wall idea. Would the Mets be willing to trade two guys they think have bad contracts for a guy who truly has a bad contract if something else was kicked into the deal as a sweetener? Who would say no to the offer of Perez and Castillo for Barry Zito ($18.5 million/$64.5 million w/2014 buyout) and Zach Wheeler? While Zito would give the Mets (very expensive) innings, would the inclusion of Wheeler, the sixth overall pick in the 2009 Draft and a guy who had a 10.74 K/9 last year, make this a trade worth doing?
Certainly, all of these deals and others could be made without a salary cap. But the cap makes these deals more likely to happen, as we just saw in the NBA with Curry having trade value.