Name: Scott Feldman
Thanks to a very slow-to-develop MLB free agent period we have a bit more time than originally anticipated to focus on potential Toronto Blue Jays targets this off-season. Our next target is 30-year-old starting pitcher Scott Feldman.
Feldman was traded by the Chicago Cubs to the Baltimore Orioles in July of this year thus was not eligible to receive a qualifying offer from the O’s. Even if he were eligible it’s debatable if Baltimore would have put up the $14.1 million offer for one season despite a respectable 2013 campaign.
Feldman started his career with the Texas Rangers and put up generally mediocre numbers in Arlington before the Chicago Cubs signed him as a free agent last November. He had made improvements his SO/BB ratio the past few seasons and despite a 5.09 ERA in 2012 he posted a very good 3.81 FIP, 3.87 xFIP and 3.95 SIERA.
His strong play continued in Chicago the first half of 2013, evidenced by his 3.93 FIP and 1.14 WHIP, and also had a relatively painless transition to the American League East, which is probably the toughest division in baseball to pitch. He stayed remarkably consistent and put up only slightly higher numbers after moving to Baltimore (4.13 FIP, 1.22 WHIP). Feldman did see a rather noticeable increase to his line-drive rate (16.3% to 21.14%) but made up for it by allowing slightly fewer fly balls (33% to 30.1%) and a better HR/FB rate (11.2% to 10.8%).
Feldman doesn’t throw very hard and uses a sinker/cutter combination, which sits in the 88-90 MPH range to go along with an above average curveball. His ground ball rate was usually in the 42-46% range in the seasons he threw at least 120 innings before improving to 49.6% in 2013.
For what it’s worth, he was also a solid performer for the Texas Rangers during their 2011 World Series run, which was highlighted by a scoreless innings streak of 10.1 innings out of the bullpen.
Feldman signed a one-year deal worth $6 million with the Orioles last November and should be in line to receive a more lucrative deal this time around. We’ve all heard about baseball’s influx of money that could be (and maybe already has started) sending player deals into the stratosphere but according to Jim Duquette at MLB Network Radio Feldman’s agent has heard from as many as “15 teams or so” but admits it’s been a “slow developing market so far.”
MLB Trade Rumors says that Baltimore could look to re-sign Feldman under a two-year deal but the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, and Colorado Rockies could all potentially fit as suitors.
Personally I’m not sure how aggressive I would like the Blue Jays to be with Feldman. His peripherals are promising but he’s also been extremely ineffective at times, which to me raises a red flag that he could be Josh Johnson 2.0 (2013 Edition). He’s also not known as a player that will eat innings and has only tossed more than 180 of them twice since being converted to a starter in 2008.
That being said at the right price and term he could be an intriguing option. His predicted two-year contract lines up nicely with the Blue Jays current competitive window and ground ball tendencies could work in the Rogers Centre. Plus he seems okay with pitching in the brutal AL East circuit.
Despite not having the upside or consistency as some of the other available pitching free agents Scott Feldman remains an interesting case for many MLB teams. If the price is right I wouldn’t have a problem with the Blue Jays picking up Feldman but with so many other suitors I don’t want to see the Jays overpay. He could see offers upwards of $10 million per season over two years and at that price I believe the Blue Jays will pass on Scott Feldman.