Declining Options: Potential Pitching Fits for Baltimore

The offseason is a week old, and one of the very first orders of business for teams (or players) is to do decide whether or not they should pick up their contract options or cut bait and become free agents.  Over the next 2 days we’ll look at all of the options that have been declined and see if there are any potential good fits for the Orioles in the 2014 season.  If I state that I think the team should make an offer, it doesn’t mean that they should do whatever it takes to sign them.  Due to the larger number of players, I’ll try to keep the explanations brief.

First up, the pitchers.

Starting Pitchers

Chris Capuano ($8 million mutual option declined by Dodgers)

In 2013, Capuano only pitched 105.2 innings this past year, due to two separate stints on the DL.  He started 20 of the 24 games in which he appeared.  Capuano shows a pretty heavy platoon split, but hasn’t been terrible as a starter the last 3 years, posting a FIP at 4.03 or under in each season.  He’d be an interesting sign for depth purposes, either as a spot starter or another left handed option out of the pen.

Verdict: Make an offer

Ubaldo Jimenez ($8 million mutual option declined by player)

We covered the topic of Ubaldo Jimenez in Part 2 of Camden Depot’s, “Making the Orioles a Champion in 2014” series.  Check that out for a more in depth look at the reasoning behind the decision.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Johan Santana ($25 million team option declined by Mets)

Santana missed the entire 2013 season due to shoulder injuries, which means he’s now missed 2 of the last 3 seasons.  He’s apparently throwing again, hoping to pitch in 2014.

Verdict: Make a minor league offer and invite to spring training (but ONLY if he can throw a baseball without his arm falling off)

Joe Saunders ($8.3 million mutual option declined by Mariners)

Saunders is someone the Orioles are familiar with after he helped them reached the postseason in 2012, coming over from Arizona in a trade.  Despite pitching in one of the best pitchers parks and getting ground balls more than 50% of the time, Saunders had trouble with the long ball, giving up 25 home runs in 183 innings pitched.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Ryan Vogelsong ($6.5 million team option declined by Giants)

After being a surprisingly effective pitcher in 2011 and 2012, Vogelsong struggled in 2013, posting a 5.73 ERA while seeing his K% drop by 5.5% from his career high in 2012.  He also missed 3 months due to a broken pinkie finger on his pitching hand.  Vogelsong could be an interesting buy low candidate, but the upside isn’t that great.  Ultimately, he’ll end up getting more guaranteed money than the Orioles will want to give.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Jake Westbrook ($9.5 million mutual option declined by Cardinals)

Westbrook only pitched 116.2 innings this due to a combination of 2 DL stints (elbow inflammation and lower back strain) and an army of young, effective pitchers on the roster that took his job.  Westbrook will still get a ton of groundballs, but both his strikeout rates and his walk rates have been heading in the wrong direction.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Barry Zito ($18 million team option declined by Giants)

Remember that “Making the Orioles a Champion in 2014” article on starting pitching I noted above?  Zito was discussed there as well in 3-5 words.  Pop over to check it out.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Relief Pitchers

Joe Nathan ($9 million voided by player)

After finishing 55 games in 2013, Nathan had the chance to void the Rangers option, and that’s exactly what he did.  Nathan has actually been very good the past 2 years, but will be a luxury that the Orioles won’t be able to afford.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Juan Carlos Oviedo ($2 million team option declined by Rays)

Formerly known as Leo Nunez, Oviedo did not pitch at all in 2013 due to Tommy John surgery in 2012.  Over his career, he has a 4.34 ERA and a 4.29 FIP.

VERDICT: Do not make an offer

Chris Perez (released by Indians)

Despite some gaudy save totals and the all-important Closer experience, Perez actually hasn’t been as great of a reliever as you may originally think, with a career FIP of 4.11.  Factor in an absolutely terrible 2013, both on the field and off, and I think it’s best to let someone else take a chance on him.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Matt Thornton ($6 million team option declined by Red Sox)

At this point in his career, Thornton is strictly a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY), but he’s still pretty effective in that role, holding left handed batters to a line of .224/.267/.370 in 2013.  The Orioles already have several left handed relievers under team control, so Thornton doesn’t really fit here.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Jose Veras ($4 million team option declined by Tigers)

Veras performed well as the Astros closer before getting traded to Detroit.  Veras will strikeout 24% of the batters he faces, but will walk 12% of them as well.  Ultimately, there’s no reason for Baltimore to use any of their resources on him.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Tsuyoshi Wada ($5 million team option declined by Orioles)

Wada was signed by Baltimore prior to the 2012 season, but never appeared in a major league game due to needing Tommy John surgery.  Word is the Orioles want him back in 2014 on a minor league deal.  I suppose that’s fine.

Verdict: Make a minor league offer with an invite to spring training

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the hitters.

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