If there is an upside to Brad Penny's longer than expected stay on the disabled list thanks to a back strain, it's that it will likely save the Cardinals up $1.5 million this season.
Penny was signed to a contract over the winter that calls for him to make $7.5 million in base pay, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. The deal included $1.5 million in bonuses that the veteran hurler would get if he made it to 204 innings pitched. Penny was only up to 55 2/3 innings pitched when he was sidelined about a month ago. If he averaged 7 innings pitched in each of the six starts he'll likely miss before he gets back into the rotation, that's 42 innings he's lost.
Last year Penny pitched 173 1/3 innings between stays in Boston and San Francisco. He pitched 94 2/3 innings in an injury abbreviated 2008 season with the Dodgers. The last time he got over the 200 inning hump came in 2007 when he hurled 208 frames for Los Angeles. While the Cardinals likely budgeted for him to earn the whole $9 million potential salary he had on the books, it always seemed like a long shot. Penny has only made it over 200 innings twice in his career. The time I already mentioned in 2008 and in 2001 way back when he was with the Marlins.
Who knows if the Cardinals will use the saved cash to make a deal for some bullpen help at the trade deadline. But the team currently projects to have a payroll of $94.2 million including Penny's option. Subtract that mark and deferred money owed to Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Chris Carpenter and the amount is actually a little less than $85 million. So there seems to be plenty of room to operate while still staying well below the $100 million mark.