I realize it’s a footnote that the Marlins re-signed Greg Dobbs for $1.7 million earlier today. It probably doesn’t make much of a difference to anyone besides a few Marlins fans who are already so apathetic that it scarcely registered for more than a few minutes.
However, I don’t think this should be overlooked or forgotten. Paying Dobbs $1.2 million more than the minimum is an absurd waste of money, oddly perpetrated by one of the game’s cheapest owners.
The Marlins originally signed Dobbs to a minor league deal after the 2010 season that would pay him $600,000 if he made the club. Which he did, of course. After hitting .275/.311/.389 with eight homers in 411 at-bats in 2011, he was then given a two-year, $3 million extension.
Now Dobbs is finishing up his third year with the club. Overall, he’s hit .267/.310/.366 with 15 homers and 110 RBI in 966 at-bats. He’s best known as a pinch-hitter, but he started 84 games at third base for the Marlins in 2011, 96 games at various positions in 2012 and 47 games at first base this year. His defensive numbers at all of his positions are abysmal, so Baseball-Reference puts him at -2.5 WAR over the three years. The only position players worse during the span are Yuniesky Betancourt (-3.5) and Marlins teammate Chris Coghlan (-3.3).
And this has been Dobbs’ worst year of the three. He’s batting .229/.305/.301 in 236 at-bats. There’s no way any other team would want him on more than a minor league deal this winter. At 35, he’s obviously a worse bet than he was at 32, when the Marlins originally signed him to that non-guaranteed $600,000 deal. Why is there any reason to give him more than that now?
It’s not as though $1.2 million was always inconsequential to the Marlins. Two years ago, they gave away right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop to the Rays rather than pay him $1 million-$1.2 million in arbitration. He’s gone on to post ERAs of 3.03 and 3.48 the last two years. Now the Marlins are just throwing away that kind of money.
I understand why the Marlins want to have someone like Dobbs. Young players shouldn’t waste away on the bench, and Dobbs will take his reserve role without complaint. But that’s hardly a good reason to give him a raise and pay him three times the minimum. So what if he’s good in the clubhouse if that’s all he’s really good at? If they had let the market dictate his worth, then they’d have some more to spend on someone useful.
Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports the Nationals have agreed to terms with free agent reliever Kevin Jepsen.
Think of this as the latest in what will likely be a series of no-risk bullpen additions. The Nats, basically, collecting as many almost free arms they can find in an effort to fix their bullpen woes without having to give up anything valuable at the trade deadline. Just like the K-Rod signing earlier this week or the Edwin Jackson signing two weeks ago.
Jepsen pitched for Tampa Bay and Minnesota last year, posting a 5.68 ERA with the Rays and a 6.16 ERA with the Twins, appearing in 58 games in all. He went unsigned this past offseason.
Eh, it might work. It probably won’t, but it might.
About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.
As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.
The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.
On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.
The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.
If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.