The latest in the left-handed market

With less than three weeks to spring training for pitchers and catchers, most of the top free agents have already been signed with clubs for the upcoming season. One segment of the market that has been oddly quiet, however, is left-handed relief. Andrew Chafin, Matt Moore and Zack Britton Some of the notable southpaws are still untied, but The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers, Angels, Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs and Mets are all interested in their services.

These three helpers are attractive to interested clubs in different ways. Britton, 35, has been arguably the best helper in the league for an extended period, despite coming on a free hand after a couple of seasons through injury. Moore, who turned 34 in June, is in virtually the opposite position of Britton, having a long track record of disappointing results but seeing the open market thrive. Chafin, who turned 33 in June, has been fairly consistent over the past few years save for a minor blip in the truncated 2020 season.

Britton achieved an incredible 1.84 ERA over a seven-year period from 2014 to 2020 thanks to a bowling ball sinker that bordered on unbeatable. He grounded a paltry 76.2% of balls in the game during that time, almost double a typical league average of around 43%. He was limited to just 18 1/3 innings in 2021 before requiring surgery to remove splinters of bone in his elbow. During this procedure, it was determined that he would also need Tommy John surgery, which kept him out of action until the end of 2022. He made it back up the hill last year but his speed was slower and his control was everywhere. He ended the season on the injured list due to shoulder fatigue. He would be a risky acquisition given his uncertain health at this point but he’s recently held a club showcase and will surely tempt one of them to take a chance given his past excellence.

Once one of the best prospects in the game, Moore seemed like a rotational building block for the Rays a decade ago. However, Tommy John’s surgery in 2014 incapacitated him for a considerable stretch and he once fought his way back up the hill. He bounced around various clubs for years, including in Japan, but he never really got things going again. But a full-time move to the bullpen last year has seemingly given him a second act as he posted a 1.95 ERA over 74 innings for the Rangers. His 12.5% ​​walk rate was certainly a concern, but he also knocked out 27.3% of batters faced and got grounders with a healthy 43.9% clip.

Chafin has managed a 3.05 ERA from 2017 to date, even with his rough 2020 campaign. He’s been even better lately, with a 2.29 ERA in the last few seasons, beating 25.7% of the Batters face, only 7.5% of them walked and kept the ball on the floor with a 47.9% clip.

All three pitchers will certainly interest clubs to some degree, but Rosenthal hears from an executive that the Matt Strahm The signing has slowed things down. The Phillies signed him to a two-year, $15 million contract in December despite a somewhat shaky track record. He achieved some good results in his first few seasons, mostly working as a relief but occasionally starting. He had an unusual season with the Padres in 2019 while attempting to become a starter. He made 16 starts that year but posted a 5.29 ERA in that role versus a 3.27 mark in 30 relief appearances. Back in the bullpen in 2020, he recorded a 2.61 ERA in the shortened season but only came in six games in 2021 due to various injuries. He rebounded with the Red Sox in 2022 with a 3.83 ERA, 26.9% strikeout rate, 8.8% walk rate, and 36.8% ground ball rate. Both Moore and Chafin have had stronger 2022 seasons than Strahm, while Britton has had a more impressive career overall. Strahm is younger than the rest of them, but not by much as he recently turned 31. The free agents may be looking to match or exceed the $15 million guarantee Strahm has secured and have yet to convince a team to pull the trigger.

Although it lingers on the market, it doesn’t seem to be lacking in interest. Just about any team aiming to compete could stick another arm in their bullpen, and it seems like they’re all keeping an eye out here. The Rangers’ southpaw contingent has recently taken a hit Brett Martin required shoulder surgery and is likely to miss most of the upcoming campaign. You still have Rock Burke, Taylor Hearn and John King in the mix, but it wouldn’t hurt to strengthen this group. The angels have Aaron Loup and Jose Quijada lined up as their primary southpaw relievers, but Loup is now 35 and Quijada has control issues. The Astros fit quite logically as their only left assists are on the 40-man BlakeTaylor and Parker Muskinskiboth of which have fairly limited track records.

The Red Sox have Joely Rodriguez as their only apparent southpaw Chris Sale or James Paxton could drop out of the rotation at some point as they’ve barely served in each of the past three years. Their various injuries have severely limited their innings lately, and they might struggle to handle a starter’s workload for an entire season. The Jays have Tim Mayza and Matt Gage as left-handed options in their auxiliary corps Yusei Kikuchi spent some time there last year after being knocked off rotation, a situation that could repeat itself this year.

The brewers have Hoby Milner as their most direct left-handed reliever Wade Miley and Aason Ashby could spend some time there if knocked out of a crowded rotation. The cardinals have Genesis Cabrera is supposed to be the right contact, but their other options are optional and have limited experience, including Packy Naughton, Jo Jo Romero and Zack Thompson. The Cubs make a lot of sense adding a left assist as they currently only have Brandon Hughes on the 40 who could be eligible for a closer role as opposed to a situational left job.

The Yankees recently admitted Lucas Lütge go, assign him to an assignment and send him to Atlanta. That stayed Wandy Peralta as the club’s only option from the left in their bullpen. However, adding even a modest contract to their books could be a problem as they are reportedly concerned about going over the final tier of the competitive balance sheet tax. Roster Resource currently puts its CBT number at $292.3 million, just a hair below the last line of $293 million. Making an external complement without making up for this difference will be a challenge. Trade the contract of someone like Josh Donaldson or Aaron Hicks would give them a little more breathing room, but the Americans haven’t been able to find a deal yet.

Mets interest could also be complicated, as Rosenthal reports they are reluctant to add another pitcher with no options to the mix and reduce their roster flexibility. All players with more than five years of service cannot be optioned without their consent, meaning all such veterans fall into this category. None of Edwin Diaz, Adam Ottavino, David Robertson or Brooks Raley can be offered to the minors either optionally.

For clubs missing out on Chafin, Britton and Moore, some of the other left-handers still available are included Will Smith, brad hand and Justin Wilson.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *