After an ugly outing against the Yankees on August 29th of last year, Jose Contreras' record stood at 5-13. He had a 5.42 ERA on the season and was well overpaid at $10MM. At the August 31st deadline, the White Sox shipped Contreras to Colorado for minor league pitcher Brandon Hynick plus cash in a salary dump move. The 38-year-old Cuban pitched well in his Rockies debut but suffered a quad injury in his second start. Contreras returned from the injury as a reliever and did a good job in five appearances.
The Phillies signed Contreras in January to a $1.5MM deal. He's been lights-out this season, and has already ascended to second in line to close if Brad Lidge struggles or isn't available. Contreras' dominance is no fluke – as a reliever this year his average fastball has jumped up to 94.7 mph and he sports an 11.6 K/9 with a career-best 54.2% groundball rate. The relief sample is growing – since his Rockies role change Contreras has a 0.95 ERA, 10.4 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9 in 19 innings.
Contreras appears to have found a second baseball life as a reliever. Admittedly, the 2010 season has just begun. But if Contreras' excellence continues until free agency, he'll be positioned for a two-year deal or even a closing job.