Ah, the great communal dive into the dumpster of speculation that is the non-tender deadline.
All in a rush, a wave of players are heaved into the free agency pool, and all are assumed to be easily acquired, since their previous team just refused to breathe on them as they froze to death.
Just as low as the perceived price for is available players, is the standard for someone to be an intriguing non-tendered player. For example, there was a fair amount of surprise being registered that the Royals tendered a contract to Luke Hochevar. When will they admit failure with this disappointing former #1 overall pick!?
However, had they non-tendered Hochevar, the credential of former #1 overall pick turned bust…still throws hard, would have been as impressive as that of anyone actually in this pool. Perhaps renowned baseball scribe Christina Kahrl can summarize what I’m getting at more succinctly.
Brian Wilson is the biggest name in the non-tendered pool, and well…
…he’s the pick of the litter!
Unlike most of the other castoffs, Wilson doesn’t have a long stretch of ineffectiveness preceding his release, he’s just been hurt. Sure, his walk rate exploded to 5.07 BB/9 in 2011 before he missed nearly all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery, but a formerly elite reliever on the mend is usually the lowest risk flier there is.
Wilson has too much prominence and name recognition, and other buzzards are already circling. If it’s any comfort, his presence would be insufferable anyway.
Time was, Jurrjens was a big-armed youngster whose results didn’t match the stuff. By 2011, he had switched courses, and gained mainstream attention for a year where he kept his ERA under 3.00 despite his velocity declining under 90 mph and Buehrle-like strikeout rates.
After a year spent bouncing back-and-forth between ineffective stints with the Braves and in AAA, Jurrjens is out, and is a name. A memorable name at that, since it’s so odd, but mostly just a name, mixed with a hard-to-discern true talent level, physical decline, and not much else beyond the typical “Coop’ll teach ’em a cutter” assurances.
Ken Rosenthal gave every Sox fan free license to speculate on reclamation projects for the good of the team…
…so here we are, discussing Jair Jurrjens.
There’s also Jeff Karstens; a less-than-durable soft-tossing right-handed strike-thrower that Jack Moore of FanGraphs identified as a possible free agent steal for the way he prevents excessive damage. Karstens sported a career-best 4.40 K/BB for the Pirates in 2012…before injuries limited him to just over 90 innings in typical fashion.
The 30 year-old has never started 30 games in a season, and would not be better than Gavin Floyd, but would be better than Floyd in the sense that when he gives up home runs and gets hurt, there’s no disappointment.
The Nationals dumped a pair of left-handed hurlers in John Lannan and Tom Gorzelanny. Lannan is like, well, Mark Buehrle without the control. In other words, imagine Mark Buehrle if you did not like him. Gorzelanny, a former Cub, can rack up strikeouts but still achieve mediocrity. After Karstens, all of these available starters should just be named “Are You Not Even Remotely Intrigued By Hector Santiago?”
Veteran former Braves reliever Peter Moylan has been given his walking papers. Moylan has a career 2.59 ERA, but has only thrown 42 innings across all levels in the past two years, and has peripherals that suggest that shiny career ERA should be over a full run higher. He at least could have detailed conversations with John Danks about labrum fraying. That is, if Danks could understand his Australian accent.
3rd base scroungers
The Cubs did not think Ian Stewart suitable even for filling space during their rebuild, which should be troubling enough, but he’s also coming off of a wrist injury that saw him miss two-thirds of the 2012 season to boot. The former Rockies top prospect has not had a non-awful season since 2010, and has never had an interesting one.
When healthy, discarded Cleveland cornerman Jack Hannahan can take a walk and throw some tremendous leather. He was nagged by a calf injury for most of 2012, will be 33 by Opening Day, and doesn’t hit righties enough to be an interesting platoon partner. Yet, Hannahan would be a decent, late-game defensive replacement however, if the Sox were to do something like…
…bring on Mark Reynolds to try to bash his way through justifying a 30% strikeout rate and probably the worst 3rd base defense in baseball. The Orioles let Wilson Betemit play 3rd base more often than Reynolds, and Reynolds’ power slipped while playing in Camden Yards. Consider that.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan