If you were to say that the Blue Jays are in need of a second baseman this offseason, or that the Blue Jays are in need of a catcher, then you would be correct! If you were however to say that the Blue Jays are in need of starting pitching, that would be a more true statement than the previous true statements, because the Blue Jays are actually in more desperate need of starting pitching than they are in need of second baseman-ing or major league catching.
Here, look at these handy non-edited non-biased stats from Baseball-Reference and see for yourself:
The bullpen was quite good and with luck and good health, will hopefully continue to perform close to how it did in 2013.
The lineup does need an upgrade at second and catcher, but to be honest a pitching rotation of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow coming off injury, Todd Redmond, and Esmil Rogers is a little more worrisome than a mostly above-average lineup with two very weak parts.
So why Scott Feldman? Ranked 27th on MLB Trade Rumors' List of Top 50 Free Agents, Feldman is definitely not a top-tier starting pitcher--he is more of a #4 or #5 who can provide reliable innings with a decent ERA.
From 2008 to 2013, discounting 2011, which he missed most of due to injury, Feldman averaged just under 158 innings per season, the most being 190 in 2009.
Since returning from his injury in 2011, Feldman has posted quality numbers: a 3.86 ERA, 4.03 FIP, and 3.96 xFIP, all of which would be best among Blue Jays starters in 2013. Sigh.
Feldman also has a knack for inducing ground balls - his 49.4% GB rate ranked him fifth among available starters as the offseason began.
The Blue Jays infield defense is up and down, with Brett Lawrie being a plus defender with a plus arm, Jose Reyes being an average defender with a plus arm, and Edwin Encarnacion/Adam Lind being slightly below average. A large factor is which of Ryan Goins or Maicer Izturis is set to play second base, with Goins giving an obvious advantage to ground ball pitchers with his excellent range.
Feldman's flyball rate of 31.5% last year ranked him 53rd out of the 81 qualified starting pitchers. A low fly ball rate is key at the Rogers Centre, which has allowed 119 home runs per 100 home runs across all major league parks over the past three years. That basically means that there are a whole lot of home runs hit at the Rogers Centre. It would be nice to have a ground ball pitcher on this team.
Repertoire and Velocity
Feldman gets guys out with a five-pitch combination of four-seam fastball, cut fastball, changeup, curve, and sinker, with the four seam fastball not appearing all too often.
Feldman is not a power thrower by any means. He gets people out with his strong command and ability to locate pitches. He has posted a BB/9 of 2.9 since 2008 over the course of 811 innings.
His sinker and fastball velocities this year were career lows, but again, this shouldn't be much of a concern as Feldman relies more on command than throwing hard.
Feldman had Tommy John surgery way back in 2003 as a minor leaguer, but has had no arm related health issues since. The injury in early 2011 was to his right knee and was repaired with microfracture surgery prior to the season.
Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors thinks that a three-year $25MM contract, akin to the one Jeremy Guthrie signed last year would be Feldman's ceiling, but predicted a more modest two-year $17MM deal.
Would you be willing to go two years on Feldman at that price?