Brad Penny is headed to St. Louis.
According to ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney, Penny and the Cardinals have come agreed upon a one-year deal for the 2010 campaign.
Penny, 31, will earn a base salary of $7.5 million and can earn up to $1.5 million in performance bonuses.
The deal is currently pending a physical, which—with Penny—is no sure thing.
St. Louis, the reigning National League Central champion, is facing the loss of three starting pitchers to free agency and all three—Joel Pineiro, John Smoltz, and Todd Wellemeyer—are expected to be plying their trade elsewhere next season.
As such, adding a starter was high on general manager John Mozeliak’s to-do list at this week’s Winter Meetings in Indianapolis.
Penny is coming off a year in which he had very mixed results.
He began the year with Boston and was initially a solid, albeit mediocre back of the rotation starter.
His final five starts with the Red Sox, however, were abysmal. He went 0-4 with a 9.11 ERA and was demoted to the bullpen.
Soon after he requested and was granted a release from Boston.
Overall, he was 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in Boston.
He signed with the San Francisco Giants at the end of August and made six starts down the stretch going 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA.
He was absolutely dominant in all but one of his starts and finished the year on a high-note, despite his pedestrian totals of 11-9 with a 4.88 ERA.
The Giants offered the two-time All-Star a one-year deal, but he rejected the offer and chose to test his value on the open-market instead.
In doing so, Penny has landed in an enviable position.
He has just joined a rotation that boasts two potential Cy Young candidates in right-handers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright and a lineup anchored by the best hitter in the game, Albert Pujols.
Additionally, his new battery-mate, Yadier Molina is renowned for his ability to get the best out of pitchers.
Molina isn’t the only member of the Cardinals staff known for coaxing solid performances out of pitchers. Pitching coach Dave Duncan’s track record for getting career years out of journeyman pitchers is legendary.
Don’t believe me, ask Jeff Weaver, Kyle Lohse, Jeff Suppan, and, this year’s recipient of the magical Duncan dust, Joel Pineiro.
Penny does, however, have a more impressive dossier than any of Duncan’s previous reclamation projects and it’s not just because he dated Alyssa Milano.
He was a 16-game winner in 2006 and 2007 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and was an All-Star both seasons. Penny was even elected as the starter for the National League in the 2006 game in Pittsburgh.
Since then, however, injuries and reported attitude problems have hampered his performance.
Despite shaky performances in recent years, the door isn’t completely closed on Penny as middle-to-front of the rotation starter.
His mid-nineties fastball is still there and still as dominant as ever and if he can continue using the pitch-to-contact, groundball-inducing style that worked so well in San Francisco at season’s end, he could completely re-energize his otherwise flagging career.
Penny has certainly landed in the right spot to re-build his value before hitting the market again next season and—at a maximum $9 million investment—the Cardinals have shrewdly added a former ace to an already imposing staff.
All the while, the club’s modest investment still leaves room to pursue more offense for next season.
As it turns out, the Cardinals may have just found the lucky Penny they need to get over the hump and back to the World Series.