Javier Vazquez and Vicente Padilla

Something I've been meaning to bring up the past couple of days is Javier Vazquez's contract extension, a 3 year, $34.5 million deal that kicks in after the 2007 season.

This is kind of a weird signing for the ChiSox...they dealt away Fat Freddy Garcia, and then sent Brandon McCarthy to the Rangers, supposedly because they were concerned about McCarthy's home run rate.

But Vazquez's home run rate of 1.0 per 9 innings over his career is fairly high, and U.S. Cellular is a very homer-friendly park for lefty hitters, which would seem to make Vazquez a risky proposition there (despite having a reasonable home rate last season).

Vazquez has posted an ERA+ in the last three years of 92 (with the Yankees), 99 (with the D-Backs), and 96 (with the ChiSox).  Vazquez had his best K rate last season since his big 2003 season with the Expos, but his walk rate also went up.

Vicente Padilla, on the other hand, signed a 3 year, $33.5 million contract this offseason that many folks sneered at as overpaying.  But Padilla, over the last three years, has posted ERA+s of 104, 96, and 96, and is less homer-prone than Vazquez.

Comparing the two deals helps highlight what a solid signing the Padilla contract was.  Vazquez has an edge over Padilla in terms of durability -- Padilla missed part of 2004-05 with injuries -- but Vazquez has also logged a very heavy workload from a young age, which has to make you wonder how long he can hold up.  You also have the issue that Padilla's performances in 2004-05 were weaker than would be expected going forward because he was dealing with the injury issues, while Vazquez doesn't have the same injury excuse.

At the same time, Padilla is younger than Vazquez, and his contract kicks in immediately, while Vazquez's deal starts only in 2008, after he plays the 2007 season for $12.5 million.  So the ChiSox are rolling the dice that Vazquez stays healthy and effective this coming season, before this new deal kicks in...something the Rangers don't have to worry about with Padilla.

And on top of that, the Rangers have a team option for 2010 with Padilla...that gives them the opportunity to keep him around for another season if his production warrants it, a non-insignificant advantage for the Rangers, given the value of starting pitching.  It is a risk-free provision for Texas...if Padilla doesn't work out, they aren't on the hook for anything for 2010, but if he pitches like he did last year (or better) for the next three years, the Rangers can pick up the option and get another year from Padilla for what is likely to be less than market value.

I'm not sure what the thinking of Reinsdorf and Williams was here, why they were willing to deal Garcia and hold off on re-upping Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle while paying big dollars to keep Vazquez around.  It may be the need to show a longer-term return for giving up Chris Young.  They may just think he's a solid fit for them at that price.

But personally, I'm happier the Rangers have Padilla at his price, than Vazquez at his.

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