Have you ever picked up a pair of old pants—you know the ones in the corner of the closet with the mustard stain—and found a crisp clean $20 bill? That fortuitous turn of events I like to call pants money. Pants money is great, because it’s something unexpected—something even forgotten—that you turned into something useful. This metaphorically applies to baseball. Consider Miguel Gonzalez for the Orioles. International scout Fred Ferreira found Gonzalez toiling away in the Mexican League, paid him nearly nothing (relative to Baseball of course) to come to the Orioles, the Orioles stretched him out in AAA after early success, and he’s been a solid piece of the Orioles starting staff for a year and half now. That’s finding a crisp clean $20 bill in your dirty old jeans. That’s pants money.
Dan Duquette has a history of scraping the bottom of the barrel in the free agent market searching for that pants money players. I think there are a couple of buy low guys that showed some signs of possible success last year but failed to put together a solid season that the Orioles should target to see if they can find that $20.
Just like my last article of Free Agent Starting Pitching targets, I looked for guys that had a high GB% last year because of the Orioles superb infield defense. Unlike the last article, this time I wanted to focus on a couple of starters that will come in on one year, very cheap, possibly incentive laden deals that the team could get out from under from if the player performs poorly. The idea is to pick up those old pair of pants, shake them around a bit, and see if anything worthwhile falls out.
The first name I came across was Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez. He is 33 years old and coming off a season where he posted a 4.89 ERA. Hernandez gave up an astonishingly high HR/FB of 20.9% good for highest in the league by a full percentage point. However, Hernandez also posted a GB% of 53.2% tied for 17th best in the major leagues. He also posted mediocre K/9 and BB/9 numbers. MLB Trade Rumors predicts a deal around 1 year and $5 million. That’s a little steep for a pants money guy, but he might be worth a shot if you can get him around $3 million with incentives.
The second name I came across was Edinson Volquez. Volquez, 30, posted a 5.71 ERA last season over 170.0 IP. He had a high walk rate and decent strikeout rate. However, he posted an above average GB% of 47.6% and has a recent history of success. Volquez was released by the Padres mid-season and picked up by the dodgers. He could come in on a very cheap deal. I would think a minor league contract with some incentives and maybe a call up deadline would get it done.
There is most likely a laundry list of other cheap candidates out there that the Orioles will try to find and turn into some pants money. I think Hernandez and Volquez are two viable options to be those guys. We’ll just have to wait and see what Duquette and Orioles do.