The Kevin Towers Chronicles: The Free Agent Signings


Will Kevin Towers sign more than two free agents for 2014? Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If you read Part One of “The Kevin Towers Chronicles”, you know there was much to discuss regarding the trades that were made by the Arizona Diamondbacks. If you need a quick reminder, skim through it by clicking here. Part Two will now take a look at the free agent signings orchestrated by Mr. Towers. This chapter will be less detailed (but just as fair and honest) as Part One because there were only two significant free agent signings. I do not include picking up the option on J.J. Putz‘s contract as part of this equation. So without further delay, I present to you the two gentlemen who agreed to call Arizona home for 2013 and beyond.

Brandon McCarthy

How did 2013 go for him? – It started off badly with a 7.22 ERA through May 1st. Then, just as he was about to end May with an ERA a full three runs lower, McCarthy got smacked around by the Rangers and shortly after that was put on the disabled list with shoulder issues. He also suffered a seizure related to the brutal line drive he took off his head in September 2012. He came back August 4th and three of the next four starts were very rough; McCarthy did not go six innings in those three games. However, over his last seven starts of the season, he pitched at least six innings in all of them. In those seven games, he threw 49 innings and allowed 17 earned runs (a 3.12 ERA) while allowing 50 hits and walking only three while striking out 21. For the season, McCarthy’s final numbers were 5-11 with a 4.53 ERA in 135 innings pitched.

What is next? – McCarthy is under contract for only one more season and is scheduled to make $10.25 million in 2014 after earning $5.25 million in 2013. His biggest issue is health. McCarthy has been a starting pitcher since 2007 and has never made more than 25 starts in a season. In fact, last season’s 22 games ranks as his third best as a starter and his 135 innings were the second-highest total in his career. In order for the D-Backs to improve above .500, McCarthy has to reach 30 starts and throw as well as he did at the end of 2013.

Was it a good signing? You had to believe that McCarthy would get off to a slow start this past season. One doesn’t bounce back so quickly after a career (and life) threatening injury. Towers knew the pitcher’s history of injury and decided to take a calculated, medium-sized risk. 2014 will be a motivating year for McCarthy. He just turned 30 and he will be in line for a nice payday if he comes up with a big season. Despite the injury factor, this was a good signing.

Cody Ross

How did 2013 go for him? Well, it didn’t end on a very good note. Ross suffered a dislocated hip on August 11th and was lost for the rest of the season. His biggest hit of 2013 came on July 3rd against the Mets. The D-Backs had lost 7 of 8 and were trailing New York 2-0 in the 7th inning with Matt Harvey on the mound. Two runners were aboard when Ross launched a shot into the left field bleachers to help Arizona win 5-3. Ross finished 2013 with 8 home runs and 38 RBI’s and a.278/.331/.413 slash line. It was significantly off the pace of his 22 HR, 81 RBI, .267/.326/.481 campaign with the Red Sox in 2012.

What is next? After making $6 million in 2013, Ross is scheduled to earn $9.5 million in both 2014 and 2015 with an option for that amount in 2016 or a $1 million buyout. Obviously, the hip injury will be a factor from now until February. He had surgery toward the end of August and if you would like to hear him talk about it, click on this link. The doctor told him he should be ready by Spring Training.

Was it good signing? My first thought when I heard the news of the Ross signing was it was unnecessary given how many bodies were in the outfield. Then the rash of injuries struck (even Ross wasn’t spared) and suddenly, it didn’t look so bad.  If the hip is an ongoing problem, there will be many people that say this signing was a bust. To me, you can’t look at it that way. A bust is a guy that grossly underperforms what he is being paid. If you want to put injury in the same category as underperforming, the player has to have a history of hurt. Ross does not. While I like his signing a little bit less than I liked the McCarthy one, I feel there is hope. An outfield of Ross in left, Adam Eaton/A.J. Pollock in center and Gerardo Parra in right is a pretty good one provided you can find one more solid bat. That is something the GM is working on.

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