A look at potential trade target Fausto Carmona

Yankees agree to deal with Feliciano
Mailbag: Thornton, Hamels, Montero, CC, Danks
(H. Rumph Jr/AP)

When Yankees fans think of Fausto Carmona, it’s natural for Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS to spring into memory. While midges remain the most distinct recollection, Carmona’s performance cannot be understated. His only flaw during his nine innings of work was a solo home run to Melky Cabrera. The extra innings victory put the Indians ahead two games to none, and while Phil Hughes helped stave off defeat in Game 3, the Yankees could not mount a comeback from the bring of elimination.

Carmona was brilliant in that 2007 season, finishing with a 3.06 ERA in 215 IP. It took him three years to get back to that level, but in 2010 he again crossed the 200-inning barrier and had a 3.77 ERA with a FIP right around his 2007 level. Now we’ve heard word that Carmona is generating heavy trade interest from other teams — perhaps from more teams than Zack Greinke. Since the Yankees are in the market for a starting pitcher, we can easily make the connection. Would Carmona be a worthy addition to the Yankees’ rotation?

The Indians signed Carmona in 2000 as an international free agent, and finally put him in a stateside league in 2002. The next year, when he pitched in the Sally league, he produced a 2.06 ERA and 0.883 WHIP in 148.1 innings. That vaulted him to No. 76 on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects. In 2004 he moved up to advanced A ball and similarly dominated, a 2.83 ERA in 70 innings. The Indians got a bit aggressive with him and moved him to AA halfway through the season, but there he struggled, a 4.97 ERA in 87 innings. He eventually got the hang of AA, and then AAA, in 2005, and by 2006 he was headed up to the big league club.

The most noticeable thing about Carmona when looking at his stat sheet is his low strikeout rate. In his 746 big league innings he has averaged 5.50 K/9, which is far below the league average rate. He compensates with a heavy sinker, which helps him induce plenty of ground balls — almost 60 percent for his career. Since he came up full-time in 2007, only Derek Lowe has a higher ground ball rate, and even that is by only 0.3%. At the same time, only 13 pitchers during that span have a worse strikeout rate.

After his breakout 2007 season Carmona did what so many young pitchers do. He got hurt. The 215 innings he threw in 2007 represented an increase of about 40 over his previous high, which puts him in something of a risky category. After just 10 starts and 58 innings he went on the DL with a hip strain. Before the injury he had a 3.10 ERA. After his late July return he had a 7.61 ERA in 62.2 innings. That carried over into 2009, when he had a 7.42 ERA in his first 60.2 innings. This time the Indians sent him down to the minors until late July. After his return he was a bit better, but he still managed only a 5.29 ERA in 64.2 innings.

During his two down years Carmona got away from one aspect of his game that helped him succeed despite a low strikeout rate. In 2008 he walked 5.22 per nine, and in 2009 he walked 5.03 per nine. His minor league walk rate was 1.6 per nine, and in the 2007 season it was 2.55 per nine. In 2010 he regained some of that control, getting his walk rate down to 3.08 per nine. That and health appear to be the keys to his success. If he has both of them going he’ll be a quality pitcher — a high-range No. 3 who will have an ERA somewhere between 3.50 and 4.10, give or take.

Before his injury in 2008 Carmona signed a four-year, $15 million extension that includes team options for 2012, 2013, and 2014. The 2012 option is absolutely team friendly, as it represents a mere $900K raise over his 2011 salary in what would have been his final year of arbitration. Carmona will earn $6.1 million in 2011 and will then have team options for $7 million, $9 million, and $12 million. A top five Cy Young finish will bring his 2012 option to $8 million, and two straight top five Cy Young finishes will increase his 2013 and 2014 options by $2 million each. If he continues pitching as he did in 2010, that could provide a little surplus value.

The question, as with any trade target, is of what Cleveland will demand. On one hand they have a young starter on a relatively team friendly contract. On the other they have a guy whose four years have ben divided among being good, being really bad, and being injured. Any acquiring team would assume plenty of risk, though that might be why Cleveland wants to deal him in the first place. Better to get a return now than have him flop in 2011 and get nothing for him. At the same time, hanging onto him until the trade deadline could yield an even bigger return if he continues pitching the way he did in 2009 — even more if it’s more like 2007.

At this point I’m not sure what I’d consider a reasonable package for Carmona. Is he worth a high-ceiling guy such as Betances? Will the Indians take a package centered on Adam Warren or another lesser prospect get the process started? I’m really not sure what Cleveland expects for a pitcher with Carmona’s history, and I’m even less sure of what the Yankees would consider a reasonable return. This leads me to believe that the Indians will roll with him to start 2011 with an eye on dishing him at the deadline. If the Yanks can get him for a price that doesn’t include one of their high-ceiling pitchers, I’d endorse it. But otherwise he appears to be too big a risk at this point to justify a top-tier package.

Yankees agree to deal with Feliciano
Mailbag: Thornton, Hamels, Montero, CC, Danks
  • http://pda.88000.org/wallpapers/48/Pikachu_Dressed_as_Hitler.jpg Do Not Feed The Trolls!

    I rather trade for Zambrano.

    I’d imagine he’d cost less and does not have nowhere the injury history.

    • http://pda.88000.org/wallpapers/48/Pikachu_Dressed_as_Hitler.jpg Do Not Feed The Trolls!

      Cost less in prospects I mean

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

      If you add up everything remaining on Carmona’s contract, including all the option years, it’s still less than what Zamrano’s owed in the next two. The more money Chicago picks up on Zambrano’s contract, the more it’s going to cost in prospects. Pass pass pass on Zambrano in every possible way.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        My best offer for Zambrano would be Melky Mesa and Yankees can pay 2/$18 (total) or so. Much more inclined to go after Carmona, though the lack of range on the left side has to be a concern with a GB pitcher.

        • Ed

          Much more inclined to go after Carmona, though the lack of range on the left side has to be a concern with a GB pitcher.

          Doesn’t bother me. During Wang’s best season, Jeter had a -7.3 UZR and A-Rod was at -15.4. Wang’s 3 good years happened to be Jeter’s worst UZR years by quite a wide margin – he had a combined -39 UZR in that time. Jeter’s defense has been far, far better in recent years than it was then.

          Also, with a HR happy home field, I’d rather take my chances on a ground ball pitcher than a fly ball pitcher, even with an iffy infield. The mistakes are less damaging.

          • Will

            I don’t know enough about UZR to answer this myself, but is it possible that Jeter’s UZR was so bad because Wang was out there for 30+ starts a year generating tons of groundballs for Jeter to miss? If that’s the case, it wouldn’t necessarily point to an improvement in Jeter’s defense, just fewer opportunities for “past a diving Jeter.”

            • Ed

              I don’t know enough to answer that for sure if Wang contributed to the extremely bad numbers.

              However, the swing up in his defense corresponds with when Jeter began his offseason defense training. One big thing to come from that is Jeter positioned himself on the field differently. He used to play extremely shallow, now he plays much deeper. The positioning change along should lead to a huge improvement in his range.

    • Mike HC

      Zambrano is a train wreck. It would be a tough decision if he were a free agent only, but to actually trade for him would be ridiculous. The Cubs didn’t even know what to do with him this year.

    • http://www.yahoo.com mike darragh

      if petite doesnt return hope he does but id rather have banuelos and nova compete for the no. 4 and 5 spots in the rotation and see what we got those pitchers aint that good to give up young talent for zambrano is good but he’s a bad clubhouse guy look at the cubs

  • Frank

    I’ve mentioned Carmona since mid-season as a potential target. I also think Edwin Jackson could be a target as the WS are supposedly trying free up some payroll.

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ

      Jackson isn’t good. He’s had a fluke year that he won’t repeat. There are others on that staff I’d rather have.

      But for Carmona I’m not sure if I’d want him. If he’s costing anyone from prospects 1-4 then I say no.

      • Dave

        I used to be in the ‘Jackson isn’t good’ camp, too. Probably because I remember his earlier TB days and the straightest, most hittable 94mph fastball in recent memory. But the guy has been eating inning for 4 different teams over 3 years and seems to have developed a modicum of control (can actually throw his slider for a strike now).

        I’m not gonna spring cartwheels for the guy, but he’s a serviceable #4-5 for95% of the teams out there. I’d take him over Zambrano or Vazquez, but I think he has less of an upside compard to Carmona.

    • http://www.yahoo.com mike darragh

      edwin jackson no way he walks like 7 people a game he needs to show some control before id even think about him

  • Chris

    Anyone open to leading a package with Joba, and not much else of significant value? It seems like he falls in a similar category of “talented, but who the hell knows what to expect.”

  • CountZero

    Thing is — there’s really very little risk here. You’re only on the hook for 2011. If he sucks, you cut him loose. If he doesn’t, you have some really friendly terms to bring him back – again and again.

    As Joe said, it comes down to what they want in return. Given the friendly contract, I expect they will want more than we would be willing to give up for a GB pitcher with a low K rate. He is probably a better match for a mid-market team in need of pitching.

    • http://www.yahoo.com mike darragh

      yeah no risk huh just when you see the prospect we trade 7 solid innings against us and become an ace on that team unless its king felix or josh johnson then id trade a prospect give these kids a chance like cashman said patience cashman is the best gm in the league screw theo he got hitters not pitchers and im not scared of crawford the case is still out on gonzo

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

    Carmona’s interesting and definitely worth a look. Rothschild might be able to up his strikeout rate even, though an extreme ground ball guy with the left side of the Yankee infield has ugly potential.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      You don’t like Nunez and Pena???

      • http://www.yahoo.com mike darragh

        good backups very important this year bring back thames too

    • Rob

      yea, i definitely like the idea of him at the right price. does something along the lines of David Adams (don’t know the extent of his injury, or the Indians’ need for a middle IF), David Phelps and maybe another pitching prospect sound even reasonable??

      Or any combination of Nunez, Adams, Phelps, possibly even Nova as the centerpiece?

      If there truly is a market for him or they don’t mind holding onto him (so are in no rush to sell), plus his contract/years of team control being nice for the acquiring team, then I’m sure there would be better deals out there or we’d have to offer a higher upside guy.

      Given our SP situation it would make sense to keep Nova for sure, but including him in a deal, would that make any sense? Or do you see him with pretty decent upside where the reward of Carmona may not be worth the risk, since Nova is more of a sure thing than other prospects? What do you think Mike, and everyone else, what kind of deal would you feel comfortable with? (and do you presume is reasonable??, though this is would all be speculation)

      • Rob

        in that comibination of players I’d include any ‘second tier’ SP prospects as well, Not sure if Warren, Mitchell, Marshall (even Noesi) would fall into that category. Anyone besides the Killer B’s basically, if they can be avoided in a trade for Carmona since he’s far from a Greinke.

    • theyankeewarrior

      I was just going to say this, Mike. I remember when Wang was still effective, he was toying with a curve to drop on batters when they were gearing up for that 2-strike sinker.

      Rothschild seems to be the perfect man for the job in terms of teaching Carmona how to get more Ks.

      If he’s healthy, he will at lease be a solid #5 guy for a couple seasons at Bobby Jenks money.

      I would start with Warren/Noesi and see if we could build a package around them.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        I also love the contract. It’s basically four one-year deals. Super team friendly.

  • Jonathan

    ugh…so it’s come to this? i wouldn’t give up anything of value for him. It’s just sad what the Cliff Lee debacle has done to us. It’s not impossible for us to have a rotation worthy of winning the AL East but it’s going to take a ton of breaks to get us there. With Lee, if Hughes takes another step forward and AJ rebounds then we are DOMINANT. Without Lee, we need for at least one of those to happen for us to have a shot at an above average rotation. All of this is of course if we don’t trade for a really good starter; aka not Carmona, Buehrle, Nolasco etc.

  • viridiana

    “Anyone open to leading a package with Joba, and not much else of significant value?”

    My thought exactly. Joba’s value may not be anywhere near peak but I’d still trade him sooner than Betances. No way I deal Betances for such a questionable pitcher. Warren plus Noesi plus Adams I’d consider.

  • Ace

    When the Yankees face Carmona I already know it’s a win. Why put him on the Yankess?

    Zambrano needs a change of scenery and the Cubs, (who are trying to dump payroll to go after Pujols, according to the Tribune) are willing to listen to eating some salary.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Logic: You’re doing it wrong.

    • http://twitter.com//TylerWilkinson T-Dubs

      This is ridiculous. So who should the Yankees give up for Carlos Zambrano? You want to give up living, breathing baseball players for the privilege to watch Carlos Zambarno?

    • http://www.ps3tf2.co.nr/ Double-J

      When the Yankees face Carmona I already know it’s a win. Why put him on the Yankess?


      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H


  • matt :: sec105

    They only guy I want on the Indians is Shin-soo Choo

    What would it take to land this guy?

    • pete

      wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy more than the yanks should give up for an OF, unless it’s a three-team deal that involves the yankees getting a very good pitcher in return.

  • pete

    Eh, I kinda feel like Betances and Carmona are two sides of the same coin; apparent injury risks who can be really crappy if they don’t have their command, but who can be utterly dominant when they’re right because their stuff is so good.

    • pete

      Of course, I would probably start the bidding at Warren, Noesi, and Laird, but I would be willing to swap Betances in there if it came to that, which I imagine it would.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      I think Betances is more of a strike out/fly ball pitcher though. But you are absolutely correct about their health/dominance factor.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      In which case I’d probably make the trade if it was a 1 for 1. We know Carmona can have success at the big league level, Betances we can only hope for.

      • Rob

        yea i agree, i’d definitely consider that, but would prefer to not trade him. we know Carmona is a very capable starter, Betances may never be, and is his ceiling much higher than what Carmona essentially already is (reminds me of Austin Jackson vs Granderson)? I’d think not, but don’t know.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          I guess it depends on what the expectation that Betances hits that ceiling, or approaches it. Personally I am skeptical so I’d make the trade. If it’s Banuelos, I’d say hell no (even though he has lower ceiling).

    • Am I the only Kevin?

      Except one coin is a strikeout machine and the other a sinker baller. Take the strikeout guy every time, no?

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        At the same point in their careers yes, but this isn’t the case with these 2.

  • A.D.

    Really like the idea of Carmona, especially given the team friendly contract. Of course it comes down to cost, but I imagine the Indians can only demand so much given the history, and that there are some other pitchers available in a trade i.e. Grienke and Blanton.

    If I were the Indians and realizing rebuilding, I’d probably want a near ML ready pitcher to replace Carmona in rotation, and then high upside prospect to contribute in a few years, or else ML ready + basket of players

  • Pounder

    It’s gonna be Freddy(Ugh) Garcia.They sign him soon,wait and see.

    • matt :: sec105

      yeah, and what’s the downside if it’s a Mark Prior like deal? He doesn’t perform in ST, cut em and send him on his way.

  • bonestock94

    I think Fausto, Pettitte, and a couple people off the bench would put us right back in it. Not that they would be out of it as of today, but you know what I mean…

    • Poopy Pants

      You’re right. CC, Hughes, AJ, Mitre and Nova would be fine.

      Wait. What?

      • bonestock94

        Where did I say that? Get the stick out of your ass.

        • Poopy Pants

          “Not that they would be out of it as of today, but you know what I mean…”

          They would be out of it.

  • Sam

    I don’t hate the idea of bringing in Carmona but the most that I’d be willing to give up would be a package along the lines of Laird, Warren, and then maybe a lower level upside guy.

    • Dave

      If that would get it done, I’d love it. But the whole ‘team-friendly’ contract issue tells me it’s going to take more than that. Laird is talented, but not to the point of being standout talent. It’s gonna take one of the killer Bs.

  • First Time Poster

    I’d say screw Fausto and go get Zambrano… Victor Zambrano…


    • First Time Poster

      In all seriousness I’d think the Yanks would have to make this deal if the center-piece was a couple Warren type prospects. Would be a great risk to take. The options are so low that even if Fausto has an awful/injured year that it is palatable to pick them up regardless.

    • YankeesJunkie


  • jayd808

    Granted that Zambrano is a headcase but hasn’t he been flying right recently and wasn’t that under the auspices of our new pitching coach? Acting up on the Yankees and on the Cubbies is two different worlds. Do you really think someone is going to act like a total asshole surrounded by all-stars and professionals?

    Much like Russell Martin, Zambie (if I could put on my manager’s’ cap here) would seem to benefit greatly from a change of scenery. If Larry Rothschild recommends Zambrano then I would think General Joe would back him. Besides he comes for money more than prospects, what could be better? He finished the season 8 and 0 and has shown he can pitch (unlike Josh Beckett) with less velocity.

    I like Fausto so either works for me. In fact BOTH work for me because the guy your signing is going to be an innings eater. Fausto has an injury risk so he couldn’t be the guy we should be after.


    • YankeesJunkie

      Fausto Carmona is about a billion times better of idea than Zambranno considering payroll ability, and sanity and it is not even close. Carmona would be good under the right contract and could give 2-3 WAR in the middle of the rotation if he stays healthy and average 6-7 innings.

  • A.D.
    • YankeesJunkie

      No Man Ban

      • A.D.

        You figure you take the avg of what a Yankee fan would want, and what an Indians fan would want and you probably have a decent trade proposal.

        • YankeesJunkie

          You mean Igawa-Carmona straight up would not work.

          • A.D.

            Maybe if the Tribe throws in some dollars.

    • First Time Poster

      Your trade proposal sucks.

      (Note: Directed at blogger, not A.D.)

    • AndrewYF

      Yankee blogs everywhere laugh in their faces.

    • http://bronxbombersreport.com Craig

      I love how Mr. Pollis says “surely they’d be willing to part with Manny Banuelos and David Adams.”

      Surely not Mr. Pollis, surely not.

      • YankeesJunkie

        Adams is one thing because of Cano, but Man Ban is the best Yanks pitching prospect and he is 19.

  • http://bronxbombersreport.com Craig

    I don’t have anything new to add here. Carmona is relatively interesting, but only if the Yankees can get him for a package of prospects that we aren’t going to miss.

  • http://www.twitter.com/brandonholley B-Rando

    Can’t understand why the Indians would trade Carmona if they aren’t going to be getting some solid prospects in return. Sure, he’s not going to fetch the blue chippers, but its not like they’re looking to dump his extremely team friendly contract at this point in time. They’re in the driver seat, and I would almost guarantee the best offer comes before the deadline, not before ST.

    • LifetimeYankeeFan

      I totally agree. This is the question that has to be asked. You have to look at any potential deal from the Indians’ perspective.

      Cleveland isn’t in a position to compete for the AL Central title at the moment. They need to offer their fans something to put fannies in the seats this year (and next) in order to be able to build a team that can compete.

      Carmona is the ace of their staff and, even if he is an injury risk, he gives them someone to market to their fans–when he pitches the team at least has a decent chance to win a game. And, he is afforable within their budget limitations. So, why trade him?

      KC wouldn’t be looking to trade Grienke if Greinke hadn’t said that he wanted to be traded to a contender. And they are looking for a ton of good prospects in return. Carmona isn’t as good as Grienke, but he is Cleveland’s ace and he hasn’t asked to be traded (and isn’t officially on the trading block either). So, again, why trade him?

      If I’m the Indians’ GM, the only way that I trade Carmona is if I can get a prospect that I think can be good enough to replace Carmona as the ace of my staff or be a solid # 2 in a year or two (ie Betances or Banuelos) and another decent prospect that may be able to help my team at some point in my team’s rebuilding process. At least that’s what I’m asking for off the top.

      Now, from the Yankees’ perspective, if the team is confident that one or both of those two pitchers can turn out to be as good as Carmona after a year in AAA ball, would I really want to trade either of them for Carmona, given his injury and control issues?

      If the Yanks really think one or both of these young pitchers can be as good as a Carmona, why not trade a lesser prospect (or package of prospects) for Zambrano–who will cost money for two years, but can competently hold down a spot in the rotation until the young guys are ready to step in and replace him? Yes, Zambrano can be a headache–but mostly because he his passionate about winning, which isn’t a problem with the Yanks. True, Zambrano is no longer the ace that he once was, but he seems to get along well with Rothschild, the Yankees’ new pitching coach and has performed well for him as recently as the second half of last season. And, yes, he is expensive and highly-over-paid at this point, but who can afford to overpay for a pitcher of his quality more than the Yankees?

      It comes down to the Yankees making a decision about just how good they think that Banuelos and Betances are truly going to become. Tough call. But, don’t expect Cleveland to deal the ace of their staff, who is affordable for them, for garbage. They’re going to want some decent prospects (especially after seeing the success that Lee and Sabathia had after they traded them off) in exchange for Carmona. And, if the Yankees don’t want to give up the prospects that the Indians want, we should expect them to look elsewhere to address their pitching needs.

      A Carmona deal could be a good one for the Yanks, if he can stay reasonably healthy and continue to regain his control. But a Zambrano deal may be the way that they end up feeling that they have to go for the long-term.

  • bluekaiser

    Zambrano is a power pitcher, still young, if his behavior can be controled, and the yanks take on most or all of his $ for lesser prospects, then he would be a steal.

  • Michael

    I would not go anywhere near Carmona. In the past three seasons (2008-2010) he has actually walked more left handed hitters than he has struck out, allowing them to a line of .296/.374/.450. He would be a disaster in the AL East, especially against the lefty-heavy Red Sox.

  • Dave

    Zambrano = disaster.

    The Cubs would trade his massive contract in a heartbeat. The Yankees aren’t even looking at him. That rumor was initiated without any basis in fact by Madden.

    Of course the Yanks “could” get him. But why? Because Rothschild knows how to babysit him? Get real.