Over at MLBTR Jeff Zimmerman was tasked with creating a model to predict Free Agent starting pitching contracts. After a lot of disappointment, Zimmerman was finally able to create a model that relatively accurately projects the contracts free agent pitchers can expect. You can check out the first run of Zimmerman’s projections here.
Discuss this post and free agent pitchers you’d target on the BSL Forums here.
One note, is that I’ll use the 7% inflation that Zimmerman mentions in the body of his discussion as the expected inflation from 2013 to 2014. He came to that figure by comparing the contract Tim Lincecum received to the one created by his model, and it seems feasible enough to be used for these kind of discussion.
Zimmerman was able to create some projections for the top 21 free agent pitchers, and includes MLBTR’s contract expectation for that player. There are some names that could interest O’s fans, as potential guys to bring in given the contract numbers created by Zimmerman. Below I’ve pointed out some of the intriguing names on the list to me.
Projected Contract: 2.3/$31.57M | $13.7M AAV
Dan Haren is an interesting pitcher because he has the pedigree of a top of the rotation arm, but the track record of an innings eater over the past few seasons. From 2007 to 2011 Haren posted a 3.33 ERA over 1140+ innings for multiple teams, with ERAs over individual seasons ranging from 3.07 to 3.91. From 2005 to 2011 Haren never threw fewer than 215 innings.
Over the past two seasons however, Haren has averaged just 164 innings, with ERAs well over 4 in both seasons. Here’s the thing though. Haren hit the DL with shoulder inflammation in June this past season. His ERA in the first half? 4.67. His ERA in the second half? 3.37.
One could make an argument (fairly easily) that Haren is likely to perform better than Tim Lincecum over their next deals based on their peripherals, and the fact that Haren is seemingly healthy now. Haren won’t come at a steal, but could be a legitimate middle to top of the rotation starter for the O’s.
Projected Contract: 1.2/$8.45M | $7M AAV
We’re all fairly familiar with Scott Feldman, and I think that this projection makes me think it’s even more likely that he stays in orange and black next season. In this scenario, an offer in the 2/$15M range would easily seal the deal for Feldman, and work for both sides in my opinion. If I were the O’s, I’d be looking to make the second season a club option if possible. If Feldman needs 2 guaranteed years to make the move, then I’d looke to add a third option year.
In just over 90 innings for the O’s Feldman posted a 4.27 ERA, and 1.1 wins above replacement. Exactly 50% of his starts in Baltimore were of the quality variety, which isn’t terribly useful, but tells us that he at least kept the team in the game in at least half his starts. If Feldman threw 180 innings this next season he’d probably be a 2.5 win guy for the club, which would be great in the back end of the rotation.
Projected Contract: 1.0/$2.35M | $2.35M AAV
Talk about an enigma. Johnson was once a top 5 pitcher in baseball. Now he’s a regular on the disabled list, coming off a season where his ERA was greater than 6. The first thing to point out is that Johnson’s FIP, xFIP, BABIP, LD%, and every other stat you can think of suggest that he wasn’t nearly that bad last year. Johnson’s velocity is down since his 1 and 2 ERA days, but he will still sit around 93 and touch 95 like the old days.
Johnson is a $2.35 Million lottery ticket. Here are his BABIPs by pitch in 2013:
4-Seam Fastball: .369
Either those come back to earth and he becomes a 3.50-4.00 ERA guy, or the O’s lose big on a $2M bet. This is exactly the kind of gamble Dan Duquette likes to make, it’s just a matter of whether or not the price tag for Johnson falls within a range that he’s comfortable with gambling. He hit the DL twice with arm issues this past season, and has a history of being fragile. However, this is the kind of bet that can pay huge if he turns around and pitches the way he’s capable of.
There are several other names on the MLBTR list that the O’s could be interested in. Some are obviously more intriguing than others. Which pitchers on Jeff Zimmerman’s list, or even ones he neglected to mention, could you see the O’s going after for next season?