The Chicago Cubs have wasted little time this off-season in identifying and attacking the players they want on the free agent market. Earlier this month they signed right hander Scott Baker to a one-year contract and today they have made a similar deal with fellow righty Scott Feldman.
Feldman won 17 games for the Rangers in 2009 but quickly fell out of favor, and out of the rotation, for much of the next two years. With their rotation decimated by injury last season, Texas turned again to Feldman and he made 21 starts while working just over 120 innings. His 6-11 record and 5.09 ERA don’t scream “reliable starter,” but that’s exactly what Dave Cameron of Fangraphs says that Feldman is.
Feldman might not have the reputation of a quality starter yet, but he’s shown the skills necessary to become a perfectly acceptable middle-of-the-rotation innings eater. Last year, he ran a 3/1 K/BB ratio while maintaining an average ground ball rate, putting him in the same xFIP range as guys like Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, and Dan Haren. He doesn’t have the same track record of success as those guys, but he’s also going to cost a fraction of the price, and offers the same low BB/average K/average GB skillset.
Feldman was the victim of some not-so-great run support last season and allowed an unusually high amount of baserunners to score, which is something that typically winds up regressing to the mean. This is a guy that ordinarily gets a good number of groundballs and who posted the best striekout-to-walk ratio of his career in 2012.
He’s not going to win the Cy Young Award or probably even make an all-star team, but Feldman is more than capable of pitching effectively as a middle-of-the-rotation guy.
$6 million is a bargain for pitchers like that.