Monday, February 3, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Jose Valverde, Rick Ankiel, Laynce Nix

Before getting started, wanted to wish my wife Heather a happy six months since the day we got married :)

As we get past the Super Bowl and inch closer to baseball season, i'm also inching closer to discussing the unsigned free agents out there as this one will have one pitcher & some available hitters that are still available.

Jose Valverde:

Where He's Been:

In the bullpen, serving as designated ninth-inning pitcher for much of his career and doing a good job for the most part (138 Career ERA+), 2013 wasn't as kind to him as he struggled in 20 appearances for the Tigers until getting released in August.

What 2014 Has In Store:

At this point, not very bright prospects. Not to say that he is done but things aren't looking very bright after a down season and his age (35) doesn't help. Still he's not that far away from having a success (185 ERA+ in 2011).

Comparison Analysis:

His closest comparison through age 35 was Troy Percival. After age 35, he pitched three more years (one very strong year and two very medicore ones. This may be overly optimistic for the rest of Valverde's career. While recent success may indicate there is a really good season left in there, my guess is that his best days have come and gone.

Rick Ankiel:

Where He's Been:

He's pretty much seen it all he starting out as a super-promising pitcher before control issues derailed that part of his career. However, he had enough pop in his bat that he was able to continue his career as an outfielder where he even had a couple good seasons (2007 & 2008). Since then, he's bounced from team to team, hit a few home runs but hasn't been a good enough all-around hitter to stick around in one place for an extended period of time.


What 2014 Has In Store:

For 2014, bouncing around from team to team sounds more like a best-case scenario. Before the calendar hit June, he got released by two teams (Astros & Mets) that are not very good. There is a high possibility that we may have seen the last of Ankiel as a player.

Comparison Analysis:

Through age 33, his closest comparable is Greg Norton.  After turning 33, he had a few seasons  of playing part time but wasn't that particularly effective. Even a scenario like this seems a bit optimstic.

Laynce Nix:

Where He's Been:

Primarily serving as a back up outfielder whenever someone needs a backup with a little bit of pop in their bat (most recently in Philly).

What 2014 Has In Store:

His season came to an end early as he was released in August. He's 33, coming off a terrible season (34 OPS+) and couldn't keep a back up role on a team that was well out of contention. There's a good chance his career could be done.

Comparison Analysis:

Ironically, his most comparable player through age 32 is Rick Ankiel. Last year (which saw him get released twice) was his age 33 season. It seems fitting that both of these players careers appeared to have reached their end.