Trevor Hoffman told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that he’s leaning toward wanting to continue pitching in 2011, but McCalvy writes that “the offers are sparse” for the all-time saves leader after he struggled in 2010.
With a 2-7 record and 5.89 ERA in 47 innings Hoffman’s overall numbers were ugly, but he bounced back from a brutal first two months to post a 2.67 ERA, .218 opponents’ batting average, and 20/9 K/BB ratio in 30 innings over his final 32 appearances. And he’s just one season removed from saving 37 games with a 1.83 ERA.
Hoffman told McCalvy that had some conversations with the Diamondbacks early in the offseason, but that window closed when they signed J.J. Putz:
Arizona got hot there for a little bit, but that closed when J.J. signed. It seemed like a pretty good opportunity. I haven’t come to grips yet whether, if something comes along, I want to pitch. That needs to be cleared up first. I’m kind of enjoying being normal and having an offseason. Usually, after only a few weeks you’re beginning the process again of getting your body in tune. I haven’t really engaged in the continual workouts like I’ve done in previous years, and it’s been a little refreshing. I’m hoping it will bring clarity into the decision.
At this point it seems unlikely that any team will give Hoffman an opportunity to enter 2011 as their closer, so the question is whether he wants to be a middle reliever and perhaps whether he wants to battle for a middle relief job on a minor-league contract. He showed enough in the second half to suggest he can still get big-league hitters out at age 43, but coming back would mean entering a season without ninth-inning duties for the first time since 1993.
Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”
Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”
Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.