Mets sign Kelvim Escobar to one-year contract

Kelvim Escobar will make his National League debut next year with the New York Mets. With this signing, the Angels lose another key component to their pitching staff while the Mets just potentially boosted their bullpen. The one-year deal includes a $1.25 million base salary plus $2 million in incentives as a starter and $1 million as a reliever.

In the best-case scenario he could set up closer Francisco Rodriguez as the team’s eighth-inning guy.

“It’s a low risk, but could have a high reward,” one AL scout said. “It hangs on if he’s healthy.”

Pitching out of the bullpen would not be something new to Escobar, who had surgery in 2008 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and then suffered a setback in 2009 that limited him to one start. He was primarily a reliever when he came up with the Blue Jays and saved 38 games in 2002 as their full-time closer. The Jays converted him to a starter during 2003 and he went 12-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 26 starts.

The Angels inked him to a three-year, $18.75 million contract after that season and put him in their rotation. In the second year of the deal he needed elbow surgery but returned to help them reach the postseason by going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in nine September relief appearances. He was re-signed to a three-year, $28.5 million deal before 2007, but made only one start after his breakthrough year.

Although he’s made just one major league appearance over the last two seasons, Escobar went 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA in 2007. All things considered, the Mets don’t have much to lose by brining him on board. I like the idea of having Escobar set up former teammate Francisco Rodriguez, but I wouldn’t limit him to that role. Since the Mets starting rotation is pretty thin, giving Escobar a couple spot starts couldn’t hurt.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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