Brandon Webb had a rough outing in an instructional league game yesterday, allowing two runs in two innings, and John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that scouts from 21 teams were on hand to watch the rehabbing right-hander.
As an impending free agent it may have been Webb’s final outing in a Diamondbacks uniform and because the former Cy Young winner hasn’t started a major-league game since Opening Day of 2009 it makes sense that so many teams want to get some looks in before he hits the open market.
What they saw wasn’t very impressive, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Webb’s “fastball sat in the low-80s and topped in the mid-80s” after similarly underwhelming velocity reports in outings last week. Of course, that’s to be expected after missing essentially two full seasons with shoulder problems that required surgery and Webb didn’t seem particularly worried about eventually regaining his old stuff:
I’m not real worried about that. I think my movement and the change-up and curveball is enough to keep the hitters off, and I think with time off the velocity will come back.
There’s a good chance he’s right and Webb’s dominance was never based on overpowering velocity in the first place, as his pre-surgery fastball clocked in at an average of 88 miles per hour. Webb has said that he’d prefer to re-sign with the Diamondbacks, but new general Kevin Towers seemingly hedged his bets a bit about the likelihood of that happening:
I think we have to look at the pool of players that are out there. As we approach the free-agency season, we’ll have to weigh him against the people that will be available in the next month or so. We know what type of pitcher he is when he’s healthy and feeling good. We’ll evaluate our position as we approach the off-season.
Webb earned $15 million during the past two seasons while throwing a grand total of four innings, but his next contract will likely be very heavy on incentives and very light on guaranteed money.