Arizona Diamondbacks Free Agent Target: Justin Masterson


The Diamondbacks could target RHP Justin Masterson this winter. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into this winter, the Arizona Diamondbacks biggest need is starting pitching. The Diamondbacks will not sacrifice their front system and tons of cash to pay guys like Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, and James Shields.

However, there are some middle of the road options on the market that the Diamondbacks could take a look at. We have already profiled Jason Hammel, Francisco Liriano, and Ervin Santana. One other guy the Dbacks might take a look at is Justin Masterson.

Background: The 29 year old right hander was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the second round of the 2006 Amateur Draft. Masterson had a great 2013 season pitching for the Indians.

He finished with a 3.45 era and a 9.1 K/BB ratio. He earned an All Star Game nod, and most people believed he would get a huge contract. Instead he signed a one year deal with Cleveland avoiding arbitration. Rival executives and scouts expected big things from him in 2014.

Masterson owns a lifetime mark of 60-72 and a 4.24 era in his career. He pitched for Boston in 2008, and then pitched for the Blue Jays in 2009, before being traded back to the Red Sox. He then pitched five full seasons for the Indians from 2009-2013.

2014 Season: He started out the season with the Indians, but was dealt at the July trading deadline to the Cardinals. Simply put his 2014 season just wasn’t the same as 2013. He finished with a 5.88 era in 128.2 innings pitched. Injuries dominated his season.

A troublesome right knee bothered him all year, but that seems to be behind him. However, a shoulder impingement and a left oblique injury altered his mechanics and the results weren’t there. Clubs will certainly be cautious about signing him, and will conduct a medical test before they think about signing him.

The other concern with Masterson is his velocity. When I looked at his 14 season that is what stuck out to me. His fastball, power sinker, and his slider all lost velocity in 2014.

His fastball went from about 92 mph in 2013 to about 90 mph in 2014. His power sinker which is critical pitch for him went from 90+ to 88 mph, and his slider went from about 83 mph to 82 mph. That led to a lot of contact against him. Opposing hitters had a .348 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) in 2014, compared with .307 career BABIP.

Should the Diamondbacks sign him? If all the medicals check out and that is the key for him, then a team could get one of the bargains of the winter. A mechanical adjustment is needed, but if he can gain his velocity back, then he could return to his 2013 form.

The question is should the Diamondbacks sign him. To me, he should be last on the list given the other options. I think Santana, and Liriano are much better options.

The Dbacks are looking for starters that are reliable and durable. Given his injury history especially last year, I don’t know if he is reliable. His loss in velocity also has to be a concern.

Masterson will probably get a one year contract in the 12 million dollar range. He will try to prove to teams that he deserves a long term deal in the winter of 2015.

At this point, if I were the Diamondbacks I wouldn’t sign him. The team has already experienced to many injury issues with guys like Bronson Arroyo and Patrick Corbin. They don’t need another injury prone starter on their roster.