When the Royals announced their signing of Gil Meche prior to the start of the 2007 season, it came as a bit of a shock. The team had just gotten done losing 100 games and were nowhere near competing for a .500 record, to say nothing of a playoff berth or a World Series title. So signing a a pitcher who's ERA the past three years had been 5.01, 5.09, and 4.48 to 55 million dollar deal spanning five seasons was a stunning layout.
Proponents of the move, along with the Royals organization suggested that the move would pave the way for bringing in better free agents and would 'send a message,' about where the Royals commitment to winning. Critics said the deal was far too big for someone of Meche's mediocre track-record. They said the Royals weren't anywhere near being ready to compete and that expending so many resources in one place would hinder their growth.
For two years at least, Meche made the Royals brass look pretty bright. Not only did Meche earn his contract, the 9.4 WAR he posted over the first two years of the deal looked like a coup.
Unfortunately as is almost always the case with long-term contracts for pitchers, injuries eventually took their toll on Meche and his performance over the past two years has been poor at best.
And now, with a role shift to the bullpen in his future and a shoulder that was still balky, Meche has decided to call it a career. In his statement to the press after all of this came out Meche cited the fact that he had been a starter throughout his career and that if he couldn't continue as one, he wasn't interested in continuing as a reliever.
It's been a strange journey for Meche and the people who signed him back in 2007. For two years the Meche signing looked prescient. Then over the next two seasons it looked like a train wreck. He gave the Royals three opening day starts and it took a Cy Young winning season from Zack Greinke to pry away a fourth.
During his four seasons with the Royals Meche made 42.4m in salary. MLB rules stipulate that a pitcher who retires due to injury is entitled to the remainder of his contract. And while Meche could've reasonably made such an argument, it appears he wont. Instead, he'll walk away from the last year of his contract and another 12.0m.
It's been four years since the Royals signed Meche to help the team usher in a new age, to be a leader in the rotation, and a mentor to a young staff. How ironic is it then that with the Royals quickly heading toward that new future, one replete with talented young arms and impressive young bats, Meche is calling it a career?