This was one of those not-stunning-stunning-news stories. Or maybe it was expected-but-not-expected. I'm not sure. But one year ago today, Gil Meche retired, walking away from his last year of pay from the Royals. Meche saved the team $12 million dollars.
On the day it happened, I argued with quite a few of you that this was not entirely the case. I didn't doubt the veracity of the reporting on the subject -- remember, when it first happened no one really knew what was going on -- I just figured that there was likely some settlement in place that we'd eventually, maybe, hear about. (I still suspect it was a little more complicated than simply an honorable man walking away from money... the insurance/injury angles complicate the issue on both sides, but we'll likely never know. But it was good PR for both sides to have it end this way, so it did.)
In the end, the Royals paid Meche $43 million for four years, and overall it's a difficult contract to evaluate. Meche pitched very well in 2007-08, then moderately passable in 2009, then barely at all in 2010. By a pure WAR or whatever you prefer calculation, the eventual deal of 4/$43 wasn't that terrible, though it was incredibly front loaded performance wise. Of course, that changes if we take away the Royals' good fortune, as they paid north of $35 million for Meche's last, oh, 23 starts and some desultory relief work.
And by the stated goals of the contract, it has to be viewed more harshly. Meche didn't guide a young team to the playoffs, didn't really help a young rotation along either. If he showed that KC was serious about free agents, that was, on balance, a new negative, because the biggest FA the team signed was Jose Guillen. Meche was briefly part of the Moore knows pitching narrative, but then he was also part of it's downfall. So in the end, really, what was the point? The contract didn't really end up as a dumpster fire, but it's not going to be part of the funeral montage either.
The unfortunate thing is that the Royals could really use the 2007 Gil Meche now. Had Trey Hillman not shredded his arm, perhaps Meche could have kept pitching effectively and either a) been traded or b) hung around and possibly come back to the team on another deal. Should Cliff Lee give him a call?