Remaining Free Agent LHP Relievers
Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Josh Outman (30):
I was first introduced to Josh Outman when I traded for him in MLB 2k-something. Intrigued, I checked out his career stats, which even then (a few years ago) implied strongly that he should be a LOOGY. His 4.43 career ERA is very indicative of this issue, and the teams he played for.
After success in short years as a starter from ’08 to ’11, the Rockies traded for Outman prior to 2012 and realized he was not a starter, but still threw him in against righties out of the bullpen. As a result, he never put up very good overall stats in those years.
Finally, after being traded to the Indians for Drew Stubbs prior to the 2014 season, he was relegated to the much better suited lefty-specialist role. Outman excelled while playing this part, as one could have expected given the elite .537 OPS allowed against lefties in his career.
He will undoubtedly be the most sought-after LOOGY in the free agent market, meaning the Brewers likely have only an outside chance at bringing him in. Plenty of teams will be looking for these lefty shut-down guys, and most teams will have more money to spend.
EDIT: 1/7/15 Outman has signed a one-year, $925,000 deal with the Braves.
Andrew Miller (30):
Andrew Miller began his career as a struggling starting pitcher, and three teams attempted to use him in that capacity from 2006-2011. After the usual from Miller in 2011, the Red Sox wised up and moved the southpaw to their bullpen full time beginning in 2012.
Since moving to the ‘pen, Miller has posted ERA’s of 3.35, 2.64, and 2.02 from 2012-’14. He has also struck out a stunning 202 batters in those 133 1/3 innings. Over those seasons, Miller has been similarly good against both righties and lefties, including sub-.500 OPS’s allowed against both in 2014.
Because of his increasing successes since 2012, Miller will almost certainly sign as a late-inning guy for a team with plenty of payroll, for 3 or more years and $20 or more million.
With uncharacteristically high payments already being doled out to bullpen help in Jonathan Broxton, I find it very unlikely that the Crew would be in talks with Miller.
EDIT: 12/5/14 Miller signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Yankees.
Franklin Morales (29):
Franklin Morales is quite young for the free agent market, with the vast majority of free agent options being at least 30 years old. That said, Morales has never had consistent success in the Bigs, and becoming a lefty-specialist could definitely be in his future.
Morales played for the Rockies from 2007-’11, then was purchased from Colorado by the Red Sox, who eventually traded Morales back to the Rockies for the 2014 season. Over this time, Morales proved he wasn’t much of a starter, posting a 4.87 ERA over 47 starts.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t been very good as a reliever either, posting a 4.51 ERA over 181 2/3 innings out of the Sox and Rockies bullpens. The bright spot here –and indeed what could save his career– is his success against lefties.
While righties have feasted on Morales over his career, slashing .284/.376/.469, lefties have struggled, slashing just .213/.296/.328. These numbers are very good, and if Morales follows Outman’s example, he could go through a similar career renaissance.
This of course depends on how the team that signs him decides to use the southpaw, but the smart money is on making him a LOOGY for the long term. Should Morales (and his agent) take this option to heart, I think he would be a very good — if not relatively cheap– pick up for any team needed lefty help out of their bullpen.
EDIT: 2/19/15 Morales has signed with the Royals on a minor league deal.