Padres Snag Prior

I have been wondering where Mark Prior was going to land and for how much. Last week, during a radio interview, I was asked what I thought Prior would be worth. His story is intriguing. Unfortunately, I don’t have my numbers in front of me, so this is all from memory. In 2002 and 2004-2006, Prior was a $5-6 million pitcher—good, but nothing to get excited about. It’s 2003, when he was an $18 million pitcher, that has us drooling. In 2007, he didn’t pitch at all. This is quite a range in performance.

The San Diego Padres are the big winners. They are paying $1 million guaranteed, with the possibly of over $2 million in incentives, to gamble on Prior. As long is he is somewhat healthy, this is a good deal for the Padres. However, that this is the best deal he could get and that the Cubs were not willing to risk paying him $3.5 million in arbitration tells me that MLB teams are skeptical that Prior will be healthy in 2008. That zero in 2007 is weighing heavily in GM’s minds.

Also interesting is that Prior did not agree to a team option, which probably would have netted him some more guaranteed money. I think this indicates personal confidence in his health, and therefore Prior didn’t want to give up any of his future earnings. It looks like 2008 will be an audition. If he shows signs of being healthy early on, I look for the Padres to go after an extention, and I think Prior will be eager to listen. $1 million is far less than he thought he would be making at this stage in his career.

3 Responses “Padres Snag Prior”

  1. Erik says:

    I think one of the reasons Prior picked the Padres is their extremely pitcher-friendly park. It should deflate his ERA a bit regardless, and help him land a bigger deal for 2009 and beyond.

    I really don’t think he cared about the money for 2008. He just picked the best place for him to make the most money afterwards.

    A smart move on both sides, I think.

  2. This is a tough situation either way you look at it. The first, most ML front offices have proven to be idiots. Year after year they hand out massive contracts to a player who performed at a level of high quality for a single season or less. The second, how another team did not offer Prior $1M with far more in incentives is beyond me. I suppose this relates more to my first point, but even with a home town discount, why any team in the AL didn’t give him $1 or 2M guaranteed with up to $10M in bonus money and a couple of option years attached to various achievements is beyond me.

    The only way I can rationalize this, is that the Padres were the only team to offer him a true one year deal. That, and maybe he has a Roger Clemens deal where he doesn’t have to go on road trips that he isn’t pitching in.

  3. Marc Schneider says:

    I know it’s the market and all but I can’t help smiling at the notion that a guy is disappointed to be making “only” $1 million when he is 27 years old.

    Having said that, I would have liked for the Braves to take a flyer although there was probably no way he would come to Atlanta except for a lot more money. I think the Braves need to collect as many arms as possible and this guy might have a lot of upside.