While most of the desirable free agents have signed for the 2013 season, a few continue to wander about the major league baseball landscape.
At this point, Diamondbacks’ general manager Kevin Towers apparently has no interest in signing any one of the four, high profile names still without a team for next season. Still out there are pitchers Shaun Marcum (Milwaukee last season) and Kyle Lohse (St. Louis), outfielder Michael Bourn (Atlanta) and former Diamondbacks Adam LaRoche (Washington).
After the Diamondbacks went after and signed third baseman Eric Chavez and pitcher Brandon McCarthy as free agents, Towers’ work appears complete. Establishing a specific criteria, Towers addressed the need to upgrade the left side of the infield, add depth to the outfield and first base, acquire a veteran starting pitcher and provide an adequate back-up for catcher Miguel Montero.
A look at some of the high profile free agents, in compassion to the acquisitions of McCarthy and Chavez, may gain insight into the value of Towers’ targets.
Regarding the price, Chavez signed one year for $3 million, and McCarthy inked a two year deal for $15 million. McCarthy is coming off an 8-6 season with Oakland last season with a 3.24 ERA in 18 starts. In his deal with the Diamondbacks, McCarthy received a $2.5 million signing bonus and will earn $4 million in 2013 and $9 million in 2014.
Among pitchers who signed as free agents in 2013, Anibal Sanchez resigned with Detroit, five years, $80 million, former D-backs Dan Haren, one year, $13 million with Washington, former D-backs Edwin Jackson, four years, $52 million with the Cubs, and Colby Lewis, one year, $2 million to resign with the Rangers.
The biggest cost involved free agent right-hander Zach Greinke, who inked with the Dodgers, six years and $147 million.
Averaging just over $7 million a year, McCarthy appears to be a bargain against the some of the money flipped to these other pitchers.
The issue with McCarthy could be his health.
Last September, the 29 year-old was hit in the face with a line drive off the bat of Angels’ Erick Aybar. McCarthy suffered an epidural hemorrhage, a brain contusion and a skull fracture from the hit, and underwent two hours of emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. He did not pitch again during the regular season or the postseason, and in mid-November, was cleared to resume baseball activities by Dr. Mickey Collins of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
If healthy and productive for 2013, McCarthy has the ability to win perhaps 14 to 18 games and provide important numbers in the absence of Daniel Hudson, out while recovering from Tommy John surgery until at least the All-Star game and perhaps longer.
The value for Chavez may be greater.
Among the recently signed free agents, a good comparison may be outfielder Torii Hunter.
Chavez just turned 35 and Hunter is 37 years old. Last season with the Yankees, Chavez hit .281 in 113 games with 12 doubles, 16 home runs and 37 RBIs. The home run production was the most since Chavez popped 15 homers in 2007 with Oakland. From 2000 to 2006, Chavez hit 20 or more home runs in each season, and the Diamondbacks hope he can retain a similar pop in his bat.
Hunter signed a two deal with Detroit valued at $26 million. His is coming off a .313 season with the Angels, 16 home runs and 91 RBIs. Hunter is a career .277 hitter while Chavez is a .267 career hitter.
To be fair, Chavez was plagued with injuries in recent years. Between 2007 and 2011, he appeared in 202 games over this five year period, but played in 113 games for the Yankees last season.
If he can stay healthy and productive, Chavez may prove as valuable to the Diamondbacks, for the price, as Hunter could be to the Tigers. As well, Chavez will likely yield playing time to Chris Johnson, especially against left-handed pitching.
At this point, Towers and the front office would be prudent to pencil in Chavez as the everyday third baseman. For 2013, and if the stars are aligned, Chavez could provide considerable value for the $3 million committed by the Diamondbacks.