Free Agent Profile: Burke Badenhop a Good Fit for Blue Jays
Burke Badenhop is one of the least sexy names on the 2014 reliever market, but his pitching style could be a good match for the Toronto Blue Jays and, more specifically, the Rogers Centre.
Badenhop’s main appeal to the Blue Jays should be his ground-ball tendencies. The tall righty recorded a 61.0% ground ball rate in 2014 with the Boston Red Sox, and his career numbers suggest that he has the ability sustain a rate from 54.0 – 60.0. He offers a career 0.6 HR/9, but allowed just one long ball through 70.2 innings in 2014, which is made even more impressive by the tight confines of Fenway Park.
These numbers could very well be his peak, but they suggest that Badenhop could be valuable pitching in the Rogers Centre, which is one of the most homer-friendly parks in all of baseball.
Burke Badenhop was originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers, and was traded to the Miami Marlins (then Florida Marlins) in 2007 as part of the blockbuster deal for Miguel Cabrera. He has since been traded in each of his past three seasons, landing in Tampa Bay and Milwaukee before his strong season with the Red Sox.
A sinkerballer, Badenhop could be a more financially sensible option for the Blue Jays’ bullpen. His value is limited by the fact he has only collected four career saves, but given the wide-open competition for the closer’s job in Toronto right now, he may have as fair a chance as any.
His ideal role with the Blue Jays may be in the 7th or 8th inning. His numbers against left-handed hitters (career .274 / .361 / .421) leaves me preferring him against right-handers in key situations, with someone like Aaron Loup handling the lefties.
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One knock on Badenhop is his inability to miss bats, though, which may limit his effectiveness and flexibility towards the back of a bullpen. This could also keep him out of the conversation as a “shut-down” reliever or closer. With just 5.1 SO/9 in 2014, Badenhop may not be a pitcher that you want to bring in with runners in scoring position. In that situation, the Blue Jays would be better served to hand the ball to someone like Brett Cecil (12.8 SO/9 in 2014).
The Red Sox still seem to be the most likely landing spot for Badenhop, as they remain interested, but the Blue Jays should do their due diligence. He will likely be seeking a two year deal, offering him some short-term security after being traded all over baseball early in his career.
As always, the price must be right, but Burke Badenhop could be more valuable to the Blue Jays than he would be to some other clubs, and he is a name to watch as the Hot Stove season unfolds.