The Minnesota Twins decided to take a flier on right-handed starter Jason Marquis, and Terry Ryan has handed the former Rockie a one-year deal worth $3 million. He will jockey for a spot in the back of the rotation, and he is currently listed as the No. 5 starter ahead of Scott Baker on Yahoo! Sports’s depth chart.
I mention that he used to play for the Rockies, even though he only spent one season with the team, because he enjoyed the best season of his career while in Coors. It was the only season in which Marquis was better than league-average, as he was worth 4 WAR and had a season that he would- and will- never achieve again. Heck, he may never have an above-average season, but the Twins aren’t asking him to be anywhere near league-average.
If we assume that $5 million is a win, it’s pretty obvious that the Twins don’t think he’ll be worth a win; they think he’s worth three-fifths of a win (0.6 WAR for those too tired to do the math). Last year, Marquis was worth 1.4 WAR, which is exactly his career average when looking only at his full seasons. He pitched for both the Nationals and Diamondbacks last season, and he had a 4.05 FIP and a 4.15 SIERA in what was a subpar season. His xFIP- of 104 was actually slightly better than his career average of 107, and it was certainly much better than his 2010 mark of 122.
If his career average is any indication, Jason Marquis just can’t strike hitters out. He usually strikes out just 5.23 hitters per nine, and his 5.18 K/9 in 2011 was in-line with his career average. However, he walked under three batters per nine for the first time in his career, and Marquis continues to rack up the grounders with a 55.1 GB%. It’s the reason why he wasn’t affected much by the high altitude in Colorado, and it’s what keeps him from being a replacement-level player with his strikeout rate being so low and all.
There is no point in using a Marcel projection system for the 33-year-old starter, because his 2009 season was a definite outlier. However, good ol’ Bill James really doesn’t like Marquis’s future. So much so that he has him achieving a poor 4.50 FIP with a 4.96 K/9 and a 3.13 BB/9, which really seems like too much hate being dished out by our favorite statistician.
But really, the Twins are basically expecting Marquis to put up these underwhelming numbers. They see him as a 0.6 WAR player, and he’s probably a bit better than that. The Twins made a decent, quiet signing by bringing in a cheap, no-risk rotation filler. Marquis is a solid depth pitcher, and the rest of the guys he is competing with for a spot in the rotation aren’t exactly sure things either. It was definitely a quiet move made by Minnesota, but, all the same, it was a pretty good one.
Be sure to check out all of Call to the Pen’s transaction breakdowns for the 2011-12 offseason.