Interesting Non-tenders

Non-tender day (‘Tough’ Thursday?) is here, and there were a few interesting players cut loose into the FA pool.
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Middle relief appears to be all the rage this off season (see: O’Day, Darren, and Teams, Fawning), and there are two more possible candidates on the non tender list.  The less risky of the two is Yusmiero Petit, from the Giants, who I guess just have so much quality relief that they couldn’t make room for Petit after a downish year.  Not a BAD year, mind – Petit was still pretty decent. He pitched a robust 72 innings (with only a single start inflating that number), with a 1.18 WHIP, a 3.67 ERA, a 4.09 FIP (yes, a tad high) and a just above-average 103 ERA+ .  His strikeouts did drop markedly – from 10+ per game to around 7, which is a little worrying, and he was bitten by the long ball a little more, which jacked both his ERA and FIP.  But, if you throw out his disastrous 4HR allowed game vs. LA on June 21 (3.2IP, 8H, 5R/ER, 1BB, 1K, 4HR), his stat line improves to a 1.13 WHIP, 3.24 ERA, 3.55 FIP, and his ERA+ would naturally increase correspondingly, and that line, I believe, looks pretty appealing for a low price releiver with a positive performance history.
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I can kind of understand SF not wanting to offer the minimum required 1.7M (cheap in today’s market, I guess), and risk up to mid 2M in the arbitration process, given that they have a million relief pitchers and arms they want to protect from the Rule 5 draft, but now that he is floating free in the wild, Petit can probably be a solid setup/middle reliever on the cheap for a team with bullpen requirements and budget restrictions.

A more interesting roll of the dice would be for Craig Stammen, coming off of an arm (flexor tendon) injury last year.  With his health status still up in the air (he pitched only 4 MLB innings in 2015), the Nats (again, understandably) did not want to extend the minimum tender of around $1.8M to him (though rumors seem to indicate they intend to bring Stammen to spring training, which seems a little presumptuous).  Historically Stammen was a sturdy pitcher throwing 240+ innings in 160+ appearances from 2012-14, keeping his HR rate at under 1/10 innings.  Importantly, Stammen has historically been a ground ball pitcher, which I love more and more as time goes by.  Having a need to re-establish value, Stammen could probably be had on a relatively low guaranteed 1 year contract, or a somewhat higher non guaranteed contract, with some performance incentives, should he prove healthy.
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Also a little surprising was the inclusion of Pedro Alvarez, who many projected could be awarded as much as 8.5M in arbitration, but is now likely to make considerably less on the open market, unless he finds a cozy fit with an AL team willing to swallow the Rob Deer approach to baseball (Orioles, perhaps?).  Here is kind of a strange thought – how about the Brewers?
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I was speaking with my friend, baseball literati, Paul Rude this morning about the Brewers startling and total absence of a third baseman. They literally have no 3b on their 40 man roster or in their top 20 prospects, and their current depth chart lists the starter as Yadiel Rivera – a shortstop with 14 MLB AB, and the backup as Jason Rogers, a 1b convert (still listed as a 1b on the 40 man roster) who played about 120 games in the minors at 3b over two seasons and filled in for the last two dozen games after the Brewers shipped Aramis to the Pirates last year.  I suppose there is nothing wrong with trying Rogers – he put up pretty decent numbers last year in a small sample size (296/367/441), and that line isn’t far off his career minor league numbers – but when I raised the matter with Paul, he suggested Pedro.
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I was skeptical at first, but when we talked about it, it made a lot of sense. First, the Brewers are rebuilding and basically don’t (or shouldn’t) care about how many games they win or lose, so Pedro’s lead-foot, er, and lead-hand, I suppose, defense at 3b is not an issue.  Second, he can likely be had fairly inexpensively – not Jason Rogers inexpensively – but on a one or two year deal which the Brewers with their sub-100M payroll can easily handle.  If he happens to bash, Pedro is all of a sudden a very appealing trade chip to an AL team after the break and, if he doesn’t, well, what is the old saw?  There are no bad one year contracts?
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The point was raised that his crappy defense gets in his head and affects his offense, but I am not sure that this would be a problem this time around.  The Brewers can honestly say to him “Pedro, we don’t care how many errors you make at 3b.  Literally do not care at all.  Make fifty errors, it’s fine.  This job is yours – as long as you hit.  We have no 3b on the roster to take your job.  We have no 3b prospect in the minors to take your job.  And if you DO hit, we will get you on a playoff contender come fall.  So, relax about the fielding, and start hacking away.”  Whether Pedro can let the defense go or not, I have no idea, but on a non-contending team, with no other reasonable 3b options, he would be in about as comfortable and pressure free a position as he could hope.
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Finally, there is some speculation that Pedro is not, shall we say, a maximum effort person, and that while not clubhouse cancer in the nature of Jonathan Papelbon(oma), is on the more difficult side of the harmony spectrum.  Fortunately for the Brewers, unlike the Royals, or Oakland, or Houston, or any number of other historically scrappy overachievers, clubhouse chemistry is neither key to the Brewers continuing success, nor near the top of the 2015-16 concerns list for the front office.
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Between his likely modest short term price, and the possibility he could magically turn into reasonable prospects come August to help Milwaukee in its rebuilding effort if his bat cooperates, Pedro seems like a worthwhile and palatable risk for Milwaukee to undertake.

About tongonation

Weapons Grade Curmudgeon
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