25 November 2013

Buy-Low Opportunity: Gavin Floyd

The Orioles may be looking to sign a back-end starting rotation option this offseason. A few starters have already been signed, though. The Giants signed Tim Hudson for two years and $32 million. Josh Johnson signed a one-year, $8 million deal (with a 2015 option) with the Padres. And the Royals signed Jason Vargas for four years and $32 million. The O's may have been interested in all three of these pitchers, but talks were never reportedly serious (though, in the case of someone like Johnson, maybe the O's should have been more persistent. Then again, a career resurrection is probably a bit easier in Petco Park than Camden Yards). The O's certainly weren't going to hand out four years or $32 million to someone like Vargas, but the free agent market is already turning out to be very expensive.

Gavin Floyd
(Photo via Keith Allison)
The O's are unlikely to offer a pricey contract to any free agent starting pitcher. But one name the team has been linked to is Gavin Floyd, who would not be overly expensive or likely receive a multiyear deal, but does come with some injury risks. Floyd, who turns 31 in January, also has the local ties thing going for him: He was born in Annapolis and went to Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore. The Orioles also looked into acquiring Floyd before, nearly dealing for him in early 2012.

Floyd started his career with the Phillies before being traded to Chicago in 2006, and he pitched in at least 168 innings from 2008 to 2012 with the White Sox. The O's are usually thin in the rotation and are always interested in decent starters who can throw a good amount of innings. That's why it was smart when the Orioles acquired Scott Feldman last year (and, to a much lesser extent, Bud Norris).

Floyd is essentially a league average starter. Take a look:

Floyd career: 7.06 K/9, 3.05 BB/9, 44.7 GB%, 11.9 HR/FB, 4.48 ERA
2013 avg starter: 7.19 K/9, 2.83 BB/9, 44.6 GB%, 10.8 HR/FB, 4.01 ERA

His home run rate and ERA are a little higher, but the rest of his numbers are not far off. Let's compare that to, say, Vargas, who turns 31 in February:

Vargas career: 5.87 K/9, 2.77 BB/9, 37.1 GB%, 9.1 HR/FB, 4.30 ERA

So who would you rather have? It's at least close -- that is, until you factor in Floyd's injury.

Floyd underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2013 to repair his ulnar collateral ligament and torn flexor tendon in his elbow, but, according to Floyd's agent, his rehab appears to be going smoothly and he should be be on track to return around opening day in 2014. Floyd was originally expected to miss between 14 and 19 months, but his timetable appears to have changed.

If not for the injury, Floyd could have been looking to sign a contract similar to Vargas's. But the injury does present a buy-low opportunity for the Orioles or any other interested team, especially on a one-year deal. Floyd for one year and a few million (and the possibility of more in incentives) doesn't seem like such a bad idea.


Mike Bonsiero said...

I'm skeptical of his agents prognosis on his medical condition. Given a 14-19 month timetable originally, being ready by the beginning of April would only be 11 months. Even if he is "ahead of schedule" it seems like early-mid May would make a lot more sense.

Could be his agent is giving his pie-in-the-sky best case scenario in order to better sell him.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Yes, it's certainly reasonable to be skeptical. But even with a physical/evaluation, there's no real way of knowing if he'll be able to stay healthy or how effective he'll be able to pitch. It would be a risky signing, even for a relatively low price.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the medical staff would come to their own conclusions on when he would be ready before signing him. If the price is cheap, it's really a small risk endeavor.

Triple R said...

Why don't they just resign Feldman? He seems like a much lower risk, and his "struggles" (i.e. regression) while with the Orioles will probably drive down his price.

Jon Shepherd said...

When you account for park factors...Feldman pitched better with Baltimore than what Vargas did last year. Vargas has probably changed Feldman's price and length of commitment. The difference in total investment is probably 20 to 30 MM in comparison with Floyd.

Triple R said...

I recognize that Feldman was better than Vargas--that's why I put "struggles" in quotes--but I'm not sure that front offices do, which means that Feldman's price will probably be similar to Floyd's, but will come with less risk of injury.

Realistically, though, they might not be able to afford either; as Camden Chat reported yesterday, the Orioles tendered contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players, which means that their payroll is guaranteed to increase over last year. Unless Angelos is willing to spend even more, they might have to continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel for free agents, and these two might be out of their price range.

Jon Shepherd said...

Players can be dealt to free up salary. You can deal a player who is undergoing arbitration.

With regard to front offices...they are pretty in tune to park factors and things like that. What we used to do used to be cutting edge five years ago. It is not anymore. Every team outside of the Phillies has meaningful statistical groups. Some more meaningful than others. I think the concept of the "dumb front office" is something that is claimed far more often than it is actually true.

Anonymous said...

Yippie another craptastic sp from the retread pile. I am all for taking chances on people as long as you mix in Real players that will make a difference for sure. With the Twins already spending actual money on Nalsco and Hughes. And rumors getting another. But what the heck maybe we can lure someone out of retirement for a more steady club house. Spend some money already....Even if it is Feldman, I dont care as long as it is showing positive effort.