Dylan Bundy’s recent medical misfortune has to raise questions about his future role with the Orioles. Because he was signed to a ML contract when he was drafted in 2011 his options’ clock started last season. It’s been reported that the Orioles might receive a fourth option for him; however, that would only carry them through the 2015 season.
Considering that Bundy will lose all of the 2013 season and probably most of the 2014 season, the Orioles will probably have to use his 2015 option to begin rebuilding his innings. How many innings do you risk on an arm that has just undergone Tommy John surgery?
Let’s suppose the Orioles allow him to pitch 100 innings in 2015. That would mean he would probably be allowed to go about 130 or 140 innings in 2016; however, those innings would have to be in Baltimore because the team won’t have an option for him that season. If the Orioles want him to be a SP then they would either have to use him out of the bullpen until the beginning of June OR as a SP until the end of July and then put him in the bullpen for the rest of the season, but NOT during the playoffs.
When choosing between one of those options, keep in mind that this is a pitcher that the organization had evaluated as not yet having adequate command of his curve or slider, which means he had only TWO ML pitches that the team was willing to allow him to throw. That profiles as a reliever, not a SP.
So; the reality of the situation is this: for Dylan Bundy
to be a ML SP he would have to 1) rebuild his arm strength; 2) rebuild his endurance; 3) regain (and improve to a ML level) his command and control; and 4) learn to command TWO breaking pitches in about 100 innings while not over stressing a newly surgically repaired arm.
Considering his self-discipline and dedication I have no doubt that Dylan Bundy would do everything he could to make that happen, but IMO it’s unrealistic to expect that and there’s an excellent chance that he would just hurt himself again.
The Orioles have two choices. They could NOT option him next season and allow him to accumulate service time while sitting on the 60 Day DL. He could finish the year on a rehab assignment for whatever innings he was able to pitch. This would give them an option for the 2016 season. Or, they could decide to just convert him to an end of the game reliever.
Allowing him to accumulate service time will ultimately cost this team money and, since virtually ALL of their decisions seem to be based on money, you have to wonder if they would make that choice. IMO the best solution would be for the two sides to renegotiate his contract to cover the next three seasons or so and include reasonable incentives for games started or finished, thus taking the question of service time pretty much out of the decision making process. If the Orioles make such an offer I hope that Dylan will consider it because it would mitigate the ill-advised decision both sides made in giving him a ML contract in the first place.
The other option is to simply convert him to a closer in waiting. If the Orioles do not decide to save an option next season and use his last one in 2015 to rebuild his innings then he would almost certainly not be ready to be a SP for the entire 2016 season. By that time this team should see itself as a perennial contender and almost certainly could not afford to use a spot in their starting rotation for a pitcher that they KNEW was not going to be able to produce for the entire season, much less the playoffs. Even if they wanted to take such a gamble it would be on the unrealistic assumption that he would be ready to BE a productive ML SP at that point.
The conversion process would be the safest way to assure that he would have a productive career during the time period the Orioles control him. If the team decides to do so they could use the 2015 season to allow him to regain the command of his FB and change up as well as allowing him to reintroduce his cutter to his reportage. That approach might make him ML ready by the end of July that year.
Yes, I accept that converting him would make him the THIRD #4 pick since 2008 that we have had to do that with, but the reality is that the ML contract he was given may make this the ONLY viable solution.