Two underrated MLB offseason signings
Throughout all of the moves so far, there have been the newsworthy ones—Chris Sale, Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Holliday to name a few. But there have also been a lot of moves that have flown under-the-radar and these players on new teams could make an impact immediately in 2017.
Here are two moves that will help their respective teams this upcoming season….
1. Brewers Sign Tommy Milone
The Brewers announced on Wednesday that they’ve signed left-hander Tommy Milone to a one-year, Major League contract. Milone, 30 in February, was arbitration eligible this offseason but was outrighted by the Twins back in mid-October, thus sending him to the free-agent market earlier than had been forecast.
A soft-tossing lefty (~87.5 mph average fastball), Milone posted solid numbers with the Nats, A’s and Twins through the first four-plus seasons of his career, delivering a 3.97 ERA with 6.5 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 in 619 innings (106 starts, four relief appearances). However, he limped to a 5.71 ERA in 69 1/3 innings with Minnesota last year. Milone’s strikeout and walk rates remained similar to his previous marks, and he actually posted a career-best 45.7 percent ground-ball rate last year, but he also became enormously homer-prone. More than 21 percent of the balls put in the air against Milone turned into home runs, and his hard-contact rate skyrocketed while his infield-fly rate dipped from 15 percent to five percent.
Milone joins an already crowded Brewers rotation picture that currently features Junior Guerra, Matt Garza, Wily Peralta, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and Jimmy Nelson. It’s possible, of course, that one of those names is ultimately moved this offseason — Guerra has drawn trade interest, and the Brewers would undoubtedly love to shed some of Garza’s remaining contract — though the addition of Milone at what figures to be a low-cost rate doesn’t exactly guarantee that such a move is forthcoming.
Milone did spend time in both the bullpen and the rotation with the Twins last season, so perhaps the Brewers simply envision him occupying a swingman role and functioning as somewhat of a safety net if the team either incurs an injury or does find a taker for one of its current rotation options. He also gives the team a left-handed option in the rotation that wasn’t otherwise present, as each of the six aforementioned starters throws right-handed. Brewers general manager David Stearns told reporters, including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter link), that Milone will compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training.
For the little money the Brewers gave up to sign Milone, he could be a nice back-end piece to the rotation, or a heavily used long reliever. Whatever Milwaukee decides, Tommy Milone will come without any fan-fare.
2. White Sox Sign Derek Holland
The White Sox have officially agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent starter Derek Holland that pays him a reported $6MM. The 30-year-old southpaw, a client of Martini Sports Management, can also earn $2MM in incentives, $1MM apiece upon reaching 150 and 200 innings pitched.
Holland hit the open market when the Rangers declined an $11MM club option, preferring instead to pay a $1.5MM buyout when trade talks did not result in a taker. Now, he’ll head to Chicago to function as a near-term rotation piece to step into the opening created when the team dealt ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox.
Certainly, Holland won’t be expected to produce anything like the output of Sale, one of the game’s best starters, but he offers a bit of upside in his own right.
It has been a tough and injury-riddled three-year run for Holland, who has managed to provide only 203 innings since the start of 2014. He hasn’t exactly been dominant when healthy, either, posting a 4.30 ERA with 5.9 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 in that span.
That was certainly not what he or the Rangers hoped for when the sides came together on a five-year, $28.5MM deal in the spring of 2012. After a tough first campaign under the new pact, Holland came through in 2013 with a 213-inning, 3.42 ERA gem of a year in which he compiled 8.0 strikeouts against 2.7 free passes per nine innings pitched.
Given the limited commitment, and Holland’s positive clubhouse reputation, it seems to be a sensible acquisition for a White Sox organization that is hoping to remain somewhat competitive even as it deals away some of its best assets for upper-level prospects. If Holland can stay healthy and restore some of his prior luster on the hill, it’s conceivable that he could turn into a deadline trade piece or even a qualifying-offer candidate next fall.
Dan Schalk covers MLB for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @FFSportsTalk
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