Former Mariners GM Bill Bavasi signed Carlos Silva to a four-year, $48MM deal in December of 2007. Two years later, Jack Zduriencik sent Silva and $9MM to the Cubs for Milton Bradley in a bad contract swap. Yesterday, Silva was released by the Cubs with $13.5MM remaining on the contract. Silva, known as an innings eater at the time of the signing, has provided a 5.82 ERA over 296 2/3 frames over the last three years. Let's see what was being said at the time of the signing…
Tim Dierkes, MLB Trade Rumors
This is the new price of a big league innings eater. Silva may not be anything special, but he's shown the ability to eat American League innings. Those guys don't grow on trees.
Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner
The strike throwing, no outpitch hurler is just a very easy skillset to find in a pitcher. Throwing a huge amount of money at Carlos Silva simply because he’s proven is a gigantic waste of resources.
This was actually written before the Mariners signed Silva, but it still sums up Cameron's evaluation of the deal.
Jeff Sullivan, Lookout Landing
There's no doubt in my mind that this is a financially irresponsible contract, and that you could get 90-100% of Silva's production going forward from someone else for a tiny fraction of the price. Of that I don't think there's any question. But overpaying is nothing new for this team, and at the end of the day, I would so much rather pay too much money than give away too much talent.
Note: this was Jeff coming to terms with the deal, after saying worse things about it previously.
Geoff Baker, Seattle Times
Did the M's truly overpay for Silva? We'll know the answer in a couple of years if he misses a season with a blown out elbow ligament. But if he stays healthy, the way Washburn and Batista have to this point, you get a slightly above-average pitcher for what should be a below-market rate.
Keith Law, ESPN
If we set the length of the contract aside for a moment, the signing of Carlos Silva makes some sense…The contract itself, however, is lunacy…While he's likely to be an immediate upgrade over the internal options Seattle had, the odds of him turning out to be a good investment over a four-year period — even before we consider the chance he suffers a major injury — are low, and if the Mariners' defense declines via a trade of Adam Jones or Adrian Beltre, Silva's performance will take a direct hit.
The three quotes I pulled out from Law's blog post are best read in context, if you have ESPN Insider. The entire post is a good read.
Silva ended up performing worse than any of us thought he would. Most writers agreed when he signed that he made the Mariners better, which never happened. Aside from missing the mark on Silva's ability to continue eating innings, I also failed to recognize that his contract was an outlier rather than the new standard for innings eaters. Three years later, innings eater types are only getting $4-8MM per year and one or two years.