It’s a little weird to think that a pitcher who posted a 3.70 ERA, .1.27 WHIP, and who held opponents to a .241 BAA couldn’t find themselves a job on a contending roster in the big leagues, but that’s exactly the situation Shaun Marcum found himself in after the 2012 season, when elbow issues scared away most potential suitors.
Instead, Marcum took a significant pay cut by signing a one-year deal with the New York Mets worth $4 million. It was neither the term he hoped to get as a free agent, nor was it the team he necessarily want to be playing for, but the Mets could be the best team to provide Marcum what he ultimately wants at this stage of his career – a chance to pitch for a contender and earn a multi-year payday.
And that’s exactly where the 31-year old could end up by the end of 2013. Marcum joins a Mets squad that is not expected to contend for the division, and will replace a departed R.A. Dickey in a rotation full of question marks led by Johan Santana, who threw just 117 innings after a one-year layoff last season. Marcum will only add to those questions when it comes to the health of the Mets rotation, but he’ll also be in an organization that is close enough to clearing themselves from the financial mess they’re in, and one who will soon be able to start a rebuild in earnest.
He could consider it an extended audition for when Santana’s $25 million salary comes off the Mets’ books, and the team goes looking for spend on a pitcher in 2014. On the other hand, a successful start to 2013 will see Marcum raise his own stock as a trade chip, and motivate potential contending suitors to contact the Mets about his services.
Best yet, to get back to the success he had from 2010 to 2011, Marcum just has to make sure he stays healthy enough to take the mound. When he’s good enough to pitch, he does it quite well, and would be a solid number-two or three pitcher on most MLB rotations.
Even with the $2 million in potential performance incentives, Marcum is undoubtedly taking a discount to pitch for the Mets next season. That said, because of the price of the make-good deal, he could easily find himself traded to a contending team, with a chance to impress in the second-half as he makes his bid for a bigger pay day come 2014.