Edited, 11:21am: This is getting ridiculous. Ken Rosenthal Tweets that the deal is indeed for a total of $8 million, not $9 million.
Edited, 10:45am: Apparently Feliciano’s deal is two years, $9 million, with an option. I now like this deal less, as the Yankees are overpaying a lifelong National League reliever by $3 million. Unless Feliciano pitches out of his mind I can’t imagine the Yankees pick that third year up.
Edited, 10:05am: Man, teams need to stop signing relievers so quickly after I post about them. Feliciano has indeed agreed to a two-year deal with the Yanks worth $8 million. Frankly I’m a bit surprised given that Boston was able to get Bobby Jenks for the same length and only $4 million more; I guess Jenks really wanted to be a Red Sock. As discussed below, $4 million a season for Feliciano is an overpay of about $1 million, but I guess it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard.
After missing out on two of the last three relievers they’ve been linked to this week in Bobby Jenks and Kerry Wood, the Yankees are apparently close to a deal with lifelong New York Met lefthanded reliever Pedro Feliciano.
On the surface Feliciano appears to be a fairly serviceable reliever, with a career 3.31 ERA/3.75 FIP/3.81 xFIP. However, Feliciano would have to be used almost strictly to get lefthanders out, given that he has a career 4.87 FIP against righties in nearly 185 innings.
Here are some of Feliciano’s overall numbers:
Feliciano saw a small spike in ERA but a small decline in FIP in 2010, no small feat considering that he walked the world (4.31 BB/9; 11th-worst among NL relievers). He countered those walks with a minuscule HR/9 of 0.14, easily the lowest of his career and 4th-lowest in the NL (he gave up one home run in 62.2 innings!), as well as 3.2-point increase in his strand rate.
It’s a little harder to see the career lines compared to his seasonal figures in this 3-D graph, but I wanted to change things up. Feliciano gets a lot of ground balls (11th-most in NL relief in 2010), which is of course a good thing, and actually had the third-lowest FB% in the NL last season (21.2%), though he significantly outperformed his career rate of 27.2%. He’s underperformed his career strand rate the last two seasons, though he did improve in 2010 over 2009′s 74.3%.
Feliciano’s best pitches are his slider (5.3 runs above average; 14th-best among NL relievers) and his change (4.3 runs above average; 5th-best in the NL).
As for projections, Bill James sees a pretty significant regression, with 62 innings of 3.77 ERA/3.74 FIP ball — numbers that he’s surpassed in each of the last two seasons — while CAIRO likes Feliciano slightly better, at 3.58/3.56 over 65 innings, good for 0.7 WAR. I’m certain that CAIRO projection would take a hit moving from the spacious confines of Citi Field to one of the homer-happiest stadiums in baseball. At $5 million a win, Feliciano’s probably worth around $3.5 million, although even that feels like an overpay for a lefthanded specialist.
I don’t think Feliciano’s a terrible potential addition to the bullpen, certainly not on the level of the Chan Ho Park debacle, but hopefully Brian Cashman isn’t being blinded by an unsustainably low HR/9 rate that was accumulated while pitching the majority of his games in one of the hardest stadiums to a hit a home run in throughout the Majors. Feliciano is guaranteed to see a spike in his home runs, which means he’ll have to figure out a way to get that nasty BB/9 down. However, the BB/9 against lefties was a much more palatable 2.73 in 2010, and he also struck out 9.55 lefties per nine, so again, as long as he’s primarily deployed against portsiders he should be serviceable. If the contract can come in at $3 million or below, Feliciano’s probably a worthwhile piece. Any more than that and Cash would be better off trying to fill the LOOGY role from within.
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