In May I took an early look at the 2013 Free Agent class, wondering where the O’s might need help and who might be available to fill some needs for the team. This was the first time I mentioned two players that I think could help the 2013 Orioles in their effort to make the playoffs for a second straight season. The first was Torii Hunter, who I will discuss in more detail later this week.
The second is Brandon McCarthy, a potential top of the rotation starter who could be had on a reasonable deal given his significant injury history. I think Keith Law summed up McCarthy’s situation perfectly:
McCarthy was among the biggest and best surprises in the American League in 2011, but a shoulder injury and a concussion suffered when he was hit in the head with a line drive limited him to 111 innings in 2012.
McCarthy may not be an ace, but he won’t cost ace money either, and the Orioles might have a chance to add McCarthy on a relatively low-risk incentive laden deal.
McCarthy is, when healthy, a solid groundball pitcher who saw a GB% of 46.7% in 2011. While McCarthy did not see such solid ground ball numbers in 2012, it was mainly because of control issues with his pitches catching more of the zone and generally being hit harder. Ironically, McCarthy had a better ERA in 2012 despite posting a FIP and xFIP nearly 1 run higher than their 2011 counterparts.
This is partially a result of a lower K/9 and higher BB/9 in 2012, which dropped McCarthy’s K/BB from 4.92 in 2011 to just 3.04 in 2012. The key to McCarthy’s success is control, and he had off-and-on shoulder issues that may have hurt his control for much of the 2012 campaign.
So with that in mind, where do I see McCarthy in terms of years and dollars? I think if the O’s could get McCarthy for something along the lines of 2 years and $18 million guaranteed it would be a good deal. The deal would likely include escalators for games started, and would potentially include a vesting option for something like $11 million in 2015 if McCarthy reaches 50 games started over the first two seasons of the contract.
McCarthy seems like a baseline 2-3 WAR type guy, making $8 million a season fair value. However, he has the upside of a 5 WAR guy if he makes 30 starts and replicates the performance of his 2011 season.
A rotation that would look something like: Hammel, McCarthy, Chen, Gonzalez/Britton/Arrieta/Tillman/Matusz starts to look like something the O’s could compete with.