Jhonny Peralta agreed to a four-year deal worth $53 million with the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday morning. The Cardinals were believed to be in the market for a new shortstop after a disappointing offensive season from Pete Kozma, and Peralta certainly fits the bill even though he's coming off a 50-game suspension for his involvement with Biogenesis.
People really don't understand how this works. We thought 50 games would be a deterrent. Obviously it's not. So we are working on it again.— Brad Ziegler (@BradZiegler) November 24, 2013
A couple of other current or former Major League players echoed similar statements. Until the punishments for PED use become stricter, what's stopping a soon-to-be free agent from juicing up for a bigger pay day? After all, a first-time offender would only miss two months of the season for potentially millions of dollars down the road.
Around the blogosphere, Viva El Birdos took a look at Peralta's defensive numbers and compared them to Kozma's.
Moving forward, the expectations for Peralta should probably be as an average or slightly below average defensive shortstop -- something like 0 to -5 runs in terms of value. This is probably a downgrade compared to Pete Kozma who was more of an above average defensive shortstop (+5) for projections moving forward. There's substantially less data on Kozma so the metrics we have are less reliable and have to be regressed more significantly toward the mean shortstop. That said, Kozma is generally well regarded as a shortstop and above average isn't an unreasonable assessment of his skills.
If Peralta's defensive improvements are true, then this is a slightly negative tradeoff on defense. Given the Cardinals propensity for shortstops who are capable of fielding the position rather than hitting at that position, it seems to me that they believe the defensive improvements are real and that Peralta won't be a disaster at the position.
Even though the Cardinals will likely see a drop in defensive production at shortstop, the addition of Peter Bourjos should do wonders for the outfield defense. This signing trades a little bit of defense for a big offensive upgrade, which makes sense for St. Louis.
Peralta really wanted to play with the Cardinals, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
word is Peralta wanted to play in st. louis. explainis why he took about $52M/4 yrs from them while asking $75M/5 of others— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 24, 2013
Matthew Pouliot of NBC's Hardball Talk doesn't like the deal for the Cardinals.
I'm still not a fan of the Cardinals' reported move to give him $52 million for four years. He's a cheater, and if nothing else, it adds greater uncertainty to what we can expect from him going forward. Offensively, he was great in his 107 games when he wasn't serving his steroid ban last year, hitting a career high .303 with a .358 OBP and a .457 slugging percentage. However, it took a ridiculous .374 BABIP to produce that .303 average; he actually had his highest strikeout rate since 2007. His career BABIP is .315, and he figures to come in much closer to there next year, which could result in a .260-.270 average. He's far from a consistent force:
2009: .254/.316/.375 - .691 OPS
2010: .249/.311/.392 - .703 OPS
2011: .299/.345/.478 - .823 OPS
2012: .239/.305/.384 - .699 OPS
2013: .303/.358/.457 - .815 OPS
Keith Law of ESPN likes the move in the short-term for the Redbirds, though he worries about how Peralta will fare in the final few years of the deal.
Shortstop was a necrotic wound for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013; for all the success they had this year, they never upgraded on Pete Kozma, a fringy defender whose .217/.275/.273 line was the worst of any regular position player in the majors last season.
Now they've committed to Jhonny Peralta, who isn't any worse defensively at short than Kozma but offers far more upside with the bat, a great move in the short run, although he's not the kind of player I'd want to commit to for four years.