It’s that time of year; pitchers and catchers are about to report and GM’s are rifling through the bargain bin looking for the final pieces to their rosters. The fine folks at MLBTR are speculating on the Angels interest in RHP Chris Young. It seems a stretch but we can examine the reasons for such a possibility.
Last season Young bounced back from only pitching 235 innings from 2009 until 2012 and didn’t pitch at all in 2013. Injuries have always been an issue for the 6 foot 10 inch 35 year-old. His best season came in 2007 with the Padres. He was named to the All Star team and produced an ERA+ of 128. That year he threw 173 innings which is not far off from his career high. Advanced metrics have never liked his worked but he’s been able to prove that he can be expected to exceed those pessimistic views.
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The Mariners gave him another chance last year, and he was an important part of their success. He compiled a 12-9 record with an ERA of 3.65 while eating 165 innings, his most since 2007. Pitching in Safeco Field was no doubt a big help to the extreme fly ball pitcher. Fly balls are coming off his pitches at a career rate of 54.8%. Compare that to Jered Weaver who has a fly ball rate of 47.7%. Pitching in Anaheim would be nearly as beneficial as Seattle. But, with the two Texas parks in the division too many games would take place in some of the most hitter friendly parks around for a team in contention down the stretch.
The good news is that the sale is on and Young may come much cheaper than most pitchers with his potential. MLBTR surmises that at this point he may have to settle for a minor league deal with a base salary of perhaps only a couple million dollars. Not bad for a pitcher who put up a 1.9 WAR last year. With a season like that he would be a good pickup for any team in need of a fifth or sixth starter. That should not be the Angels however.
This offseason has seen our pitching staff grow much deeper. Even without Tyler Skaggs, we should have at least three good backups (assuming Richards doesn’t miss much time to start). Nick Tropeano, Andrew Heaney and Jose Alvarez should all be capable of producing results at least on par with what Chris Young could bring. They do so at a less significant cost and come with options. All of them also project to have an ERA of at least one run better than Young in 2015 according to Fangraphs Steamer.
It’s a surprise that Young has gone so far into free agency after his strong season in 2014. Some team will bring him on and very likely be happy they did. Just don’t expect it to be the Angels.