How Would Luke Hochevar Fit in the Big A?


The Angels are searching for starting pitching depth this offseason, and here at Halo Hangout we have proposed several possibilities. However, the need that is often overlooked is the Halos bullpen. Luke Hochevar is an intriguing candidate to join the Angels after staring as a reliever for the Kansas City Royals in 2013. Hochevar may come at a discounted price after having to miss the entirety of the 2014 season following elbow surgery.

Luke Hochevar’s market has been sluggish so far this winter, and his time as a free agent will likely drag on into the New Year. The 31-year-old has not been officially connected to any teams so far this offseason, but interest should increase after the top relievers sign. Hochevar is a former No.1 overall pick for the Royals, and if healthy could represent a significant upgrade in the Angels pen.

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The Good

There are not many pitchers available with Luke Hochevar’s pedigree. After being selected first overall by the Royals in 2006, Hochevar raced through the minors and debuted with the big club in September of 2007. Hochevar struggled early in his career as a starter, but blossomed after transitioning to the bullpen.

2013 was Hochevar’s first season as a reliever, and he put on a show that summer in Kansas City. He went 5-2, with a 1.92 ERA, 82 strikeouts, and 17 walks across 70.1 innings. Hochevar’s strikeout to walk ratio was a phenomenal 4.82. He allowed just 15 earned runs all season, and gave up just 5.2 hits per 9 innings. His 0.83 WHIP set a new low water mark for the Denver, Co., native. In 2013, Hochevar notched an impressive 10.5 strikeouts per 9 innings against just 2.2 walks.

Hochevar is a very versatile pitcher, and the Angels could utilize his powerful right arm him in a number of different ways. Since 2007 he has made 128 starts at the Major League level, including 63 combined outings between ’11 and ‘12. Hochevar proved in 2013 he is much more adept at entering the game via the bullpen, but still he could be used as a starter in the event of an injury. When healthy, Hochevar is one of the best set-up men in all of baseball. In Anaheim he could excel in a similar capacity, or as the Halos seventh inning guy.

The Bad

Health is the biggest concern teams have when it comes to Luke Hochevar, who underwent Tommy John surgery last spring. Reports suggest that Hochevar is progressing in his recovery, but still the concern from interested clubs is understandable. Working in Hochevar’s favor is the fact he has stayed relatively injury free for the rest of his career. Over the last three seasons leading up to Hochevar’s injury he hurled 453.2 innings, which speaks to his durability.

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Hochevar never lived up to the hype of being a No.1 overall pick in Kansas City. While he managed to salvage in career by shifting to the bullpen, that was never the plan when the Royals called his name in June of 2006. Hochevar was slated to become one of the top starting pitchers in the big leagues before he floundered for much of his first five seasons. As a starter, Hochevar posted a career record of 38-59, with a 5.39 ERA. Of course, Hochevar’s fortunes changed dramatically after becoming a reliever in 2013.

Perhaps the biggest concern any interested team will have in signing Hochevar is negotiating with his agent, Scott Boras. The super agent is famous for his ability to ink big money deals for his clients. Boras is one of the few people in the world who might come out on top in a standoff with Rick Harrison from the television show Pawn Stars. Boras is notorious for dragging negotiations out well into the winter months in order to manipulate the market in the most advantageous way. Plenty of teams will steer clear of dealing with Boras and his clients.

Projected Contract

As mentioned above, it is extremely hard to predict what kind of deal Boras will finagle for Hochevar. It would make a lot of sense for Hochevar’s value to be down after missing all of last season with a major elbow injury. Hochevar is unlikely to see starting pitcher money, as he has shown himself to be much more effective as a relief pitcher. I would anticipate the Angels could sign Hochevar to a two-year contract worth $3-$5 million dollars per year.


The Angels are cash strapped this offseason because of the luxury tax. General manager, Jerry Dipoto, is believed to have less than $10 million dollars to spend this winter. In my opinion, you will be hard pressed to find better value on the open market than Hochevar. If you look around the web you will find numerous baseball writers calling for the team they cover to sign Hochevar, they cannot all be wrong.

Luke Hochevar is perhaps the best value free agent available this offseason, and would make for a great addition to the Halos inexperienced bullpen. He could slot in nicely as a seventh inning man, or share the set-up role with, Joe Smith. Hochevar missed out on the Royals magical postseason run in 2014, and you can bet he is hungry for a taste of the postseason. Successful teams like the Angels might be a more attractive landing spot to a guy like Hochevar. Some might argue signing Hochevar would be redundant with, Mike Morin, already on the staff, but as the Kansas City Royals proved this past October, you can never have enough quality arms out in the ‘pen.