In regard to the thin free agent market this year, many teams did not wait for the Winter Meetings to roll around before pouncing on their desired free agents. In fact, this week will see more in the way of trades, with few notable names left on the market. Those that are in search of free agent help will have to turn to more secondary options.
One of those secondary options includes Joba Chamberlain, formerly of the New York Yankees. Chamberlain burst onto the scene back in 2007 with the Yanks, and that’s probably understating it. Hitting triple digits and bringing incredible movement to the mix, Chamberlain looked to be the next great reliever, potentially the eventual replacement for Mariano Rivera.
That didn’t happen for a couple of reasons. For one, the Yankees experimented with Joba as a starter, which blew up in their faces. The other reason is, of course, the injury woes that he’s deal with over his career. He had Tommy John Surgery back in 2011 and also suffered an ankle injury the following year. While he has yet to completely regain that form, the 2013 season did help him get back near where he once was.
For Chamberlain, the velocity was back up, though the control was an issue. His WHIP for the 2013 season was over 1.73 and he walked over five hitters per nine innings. He’ll likely have to settle for a short term deal as a free agent this winter, but there at least appears to be significant interest in the 28-year-old.
Two teams that likely have interest here early in the offseason are the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals. Each team presents Chamberlain with a different option, though the contract would likely be similar. With the Cubs, he gets an opportunity to completely bounce back in a low pressure environment. He could be given an opportunity to compete for the closer’s spot as well, and perhaps be spun off to a contender at the trade deadline.
The Royals are obviously in more of a win-now mode, and there’s a chance that Chamberlain could see time at the back end of ball games, but with how well Greg Holland fared as their closer last year, he’d likely be more of a depth addition. Of course, there are other teams interested in Joba Chamberlain, given his big upside and his age, and he could very well come away with new paper by the time the Winter Meetings come to a close.