Should They Just Waive Miguel Batista?
Heading into spring training, it seemed like the team had five right-handed relievers that were very likely to break camp with the team – Miguel Batista, Tyler Walker, Mark Lowe, Roy Corcoran, and David Aardsma. Which roles they were going to be given was up for grabs, but it seemed pretty likely that these guys were going to be the RH portion of the bullpen, in some way, shape, or form.
Since then, however, the team has signed last summer’s first round pick Josh Fields, brought Chad Cordero into the fold, claimed out-of-options Jesus Delgado on waivers from the Marlins, and been impressed with what youngster Shawn Kelley has shown in spring training. Fields and Cordero aren’t candidates to make the team out of spring training, but there’s a chance that either of them could show enough to force their way onto the club come this summer. If the M’s like what they see from Delgado the next few weeks, they have to keep him on the major league roster or put him back on waivers. And Kelley, with his 0/9 BB/K, is just continuing to show an ability to miss bats while throwing strikes.
So, all of the sudden, the picture is a lot more crowded. At this point, we need to ask whether Miguel Batista fits in with what the Mariners are doing this year. While he still throws hard and has experience as a closer, keeping Batista likely means losing Delgado, and the team would still have to figure out who to toss overboard if/when Cordero/Fields/Kelley are deemed ready for the majors. Of the original five expected to make up the bullpen, Batista’s the one who doesn’t have a future with this club. At 38 and in the final year of his contract, he won’t be back with the team after 2009, and if he pitches well in relief, he’d only be accelerating his exit.
The only reason to keep Batista around would be if you thought he could succeed to the point that he’d create enough value that someone would agree to trade for him without requiring the Mariners to pick up his entire salary. But what’s Batista’s absolute best case scenario value? $2 million for a full year, maybe? So you carry him for three months, hope he pitches well, and if he does, you might be able to get a contender to pick up $1 million of his remaining salary at the deadlilne. That’s the upside? Best case scenario, you save $1 million. And there’s probably like a 20% chance of him pitching that well?
Meanwhile, if you reserve the roster spot to give Jesus Delgado a chance to make use of his live arm, there’s some small chance that you’ll get a young, league minimum reliever out of the deal. And if he doesn’t figure it out, you now have a roster spot for Cordero, Kelley, or Fields. Unlike with keeping Batista, there’s actual upside to the roster spot at that point, and given the low leverage nature of the innings that the roster spot will probably be pitching in, it won’t make a huge difference in terms of wins and losses.
Or, if it helps, look at this way – you can trade Miguel Batista for Jesus Delgado right now, but you have to pick up all of Batista’s salary. Do you make that trade? It’s not likely you’re going to get a better offer for him this summer, after all.
The M’s just have too many live arms with some upside in camp to keep Batista for a shot at saving a little bit of money this summer. The roster spot is more valuable than what Batista can offer. Cut him loose.