Brad Penny has bad timing. After posting All-Star campaigns in 2006 and 2007, he seemed to be just a season away from signing a monster multi-year deal.
And then 2008 happened. As Pat Lackey pointed out over the weekend, Penny was simply miserable last year, pitching through shoulder and side issues for most of the season while posting a 6.27 ERA and 1.63 WHIP.
This winter, instead of sorting through long-term contracts, he's been forced to settle on a one-year, make-good deal with the Red Sox. It's not official until he passes a physical later today, but Penny confirmed the details of his contract to Boston radio statio WEEI over the weekend: he'll earn a base salary of $5 million but can earn as much as $3 million more through incentives based on innings pitched.
"There were a lot of teams involved," said Penny in a phone conversation, "but I wanted to go somewhere where I knew we had a great chance at winning and Boston is that place."
It's basically a no-lose situation. He has the talent to be a team's first or second starter, but in a rotation already loaded with the likes of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka (not to mention an extremely capable bullpen), he doesn't have the pressure to carry the team or pitch deep into every start. Plus, with Boston's offense, even a mediocre performance this year guarantees a gaudy win-loss record, which will only help him in his quest to finally get that long-term deal.