Free Agent Target: Scott Feldman

I eat jerseys, too - Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

He’s a guy who is unimpressive and eats innings. The A’s could do worse, like ending up not re-signing Colon and have a big hole in the rotation. But is he just a right-handed Tom Milone?

First, let me remind you how the A's rotation currently stacks up:

Gray

Anderson

Parker

Griffin

Straily

Milone

Leon?  Werner?

Colon re-signing with the A's is by no means a foregone conclusion, and Brett Anderson's erector set body could come loose at any time.  There is a need for someone who can pitch 200 or so major league innings, and Scott Feldman could be that guy.

What to like

As I referenced above, Feldman eats innings.  Yum!  In 30 starts last year with the Cubs and Orioles, he threw 181.2 innings, just over 6 innings a start.  Plus, even though he threw in two relatively home-run friendly environments, he still kept his home run rate under 1.00 HR/9, something that should show improvement in Oakland and pitching in the AL West in general.  As a control guy, he maintains an above-average walk rate of 2.67 BB/9 for his career.  He has a below-average strikeout rate for his career of 6.80 K/9, but that's not really the name of his game.

Finally, and perhaps most attractively, is his price.  He's likely to come at a price that the A's could afford, perhaps something like 2 years/$14M.  If he signs with Oakland and has a couple good years with a deal like that, he could parlay it out to a slightly bigger contract before the 2016 season provided he stays healthy.  At 2.1 WAR last season, he would have been more valuable than any pitcher on the team not named Bartolo Colon, and with $7M per win as the going market rate, getting him for something like half of that seems like a good plan

What not to like

Scott Feldman is just a guy.  He doesn't do anything spectacularly well, like have a Colon-esque low walk rate, nor does he strike anyone out.  He posted a .258 BABIP last year, so that will probably regress some (though he had an arguably better year in 2012 with a .318 BABIP, so that may not affect his results overall).  He's mostly a groundball guy, and even with Punto shoring up the infield defense off the bench, the A's outfield defense remains much stronger.  His fastball velocity has decreased every year since 2011.  Again, his statistics do not reflect that since then, but it is something to keep in mind, as he will be 31 on Opening Day 2014.

He's a league average starter, and with the team being all about depth, having league average starters isn't the worst idea.  But who else is a league average starter who is already in the organization?  Right, Tom Milone!

Milone had a really inconsistent 2013 season.  After sticking in the rotation despite his troubles into August, Sonny Gray's emergence effectively moved Milone out of the rotation and back to AAA for awhile.  Let's just say, though, for kicks, that Milone re-emerges and becomes the solid starter he was back in 2012 and now let's compare him to Feldman:

Name

Year

ERA-

FIP-

WAR

Tom Milone

2012

94

98

2.8

Scott Feldman

2013

97

101

2.1

So, the A's may already have a pitcher on staff who was better - at one point - than Feldman, is younger, and costs them nothing.  Indeed, despite Milone's poor results last year, both his career walk and strikeout rates are better than Feldman's, he's a flyball pitcher, and he also has a solid health history.  Not coincidentally, of course, it is the home runs that really killed Milone's value in 2013.  It's a risk when a pitcher is mostly a flyball guy.

It is an interesting conundrum to have for the A's, who like myself, are wondering what Milone's best use is over the period of this contention window they have.  Can they afford to bet that he will return to his 2012 form and be a staff anchor, or are his 2013 results more indicative that his stuff is just not suitable for a contender's rotation?

What do you think?  Should the A's sign someone like Feldman, or take their chances with Anderson's health, Milone's stuff, re-signing Colon, etc.?

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