Free Agent Stock Watch: Jake Westbrook

Jake Westbrook has found the National League to his liking since being acquired by the Cardinals on July 31st.  He's provided them with 67.3 innings of 3.48 ball, improving his strikeout and groundball rates.  Westbrook would be open to returning to the Indians next year, and the Cardinals could try to extend him next month, but let's analyze his situation assuming he heads to free agency for the first time.

The Pros

  • Westbrook has always been a groundball monster, but his 62.8% National League rate harkens back to his best years and would rank second in the league behind Tim Hudson.  Teams in homer-happy ballparks figure to target Westbrook.
  • He won't cost a draft pick.  In fact, he's not even close to Type B status, so the Cardinals have no reason to offer arbitration.
  • Westbrook tallied fewer than 190 innings from 2007-09 due to Tommy John and hip surgery and an oblique strain; the missed time could suppress his price.

The Cons

  • Some teams may be concerned that Westbrook's improved National League performance wouldn't hold up if he left Dave Duncan's tutelage.  That might be unfair; Joel Pineiro was no worse for the wear this year.
  • Perhaps Westbrook's asking price will be significant – he's finishing a three-year, $33MM contract and should be one of maybe seven free agent starters coming off a 200 inning season.  Hudson received a three-year, $28MM extension from the Braves in November of last year with a much smaller post-Tommy John innings sample.
  • Westbrook is not a dominant pitcher.  His career K/9 is 5.0 and he's allowed 9.6 hits per nine innings.

The Verdict

Westbrook might be able to find a two-year, $15MM deal in the mold of the contracts signed by Pineiro and Jason Marquis last winter.  He'd be wise to jump on an offer guaranteeing multiple years, as GMs figure to remain cautious this winter in general.


14 Responses to Free Agent Stock Watch: Jake Westbrook Leave a Reply

  1. I’m going to guess D’Backs for him. He won’t be too expensive and is a groundball pitcher, that fits their needs perfectly.

  2. progmatinee 5 years ago

    Link to Elias isn’t working. anyone remember if he is a type B free agent or not?

    If he is not type B this might be a good signing for the Rockies who may lose De La Rosa. In essence a trade of DLR for Westbrook plus 2 picks seems like a good trade.

    • bjsguess 5 years ago

      He’s not a Type B. Even if he was the signing team does not surround a draft pick for a Type B. His former team would receive a supplemental 1st/2nd sandwich pick if offered arbitration and he declined.

  3. Hermie13 5 years ago

    Going to be interesting indeed to see what offers he gets. Penny only got a 1 year deal after struggling in the AL then going to the NL and finishing the year very strong. Pavano chose to accept a 1 year $7M arby offer from the Twins….

    Tribe would be foolish to give Westbrook more than 1 year (and still say even that is too much) with the guys they have coming up.

    Lots of NL teams though could use him.

  4. basemonkey 5 years ago

    Westbrook is an interesting candidate. I remember when he was a very highly regarded guy in the Sally League in the Yankees system. I bet he may be a pretty shrewd investment for a National league team in a pitchers’ park

  5. Think Kevin Correia is a cheaper, but comparable, alternative? I know he’s statistically worse than Westbrook this year, but he’s also 2 years younger. He strikes out a lot more and seems to have improved his control recently (22:5 K:B ratio in September).

    I guess I just feel like we’ve seen the best of Westbrook, but Correia is still improving. Correia doesn’t induce as many ground balls, but his 48.9% GB% is still respectable.

  6. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

    Westbrook doesn’t need to be with Duncan to have a good performance. He just needed to be farther away from the TJ surgery. He looks close to the same pitcher he’s always been. He’d be a good fit for Cincinnati and there’s always been rumors around Cleveland that they are bringing him back for 2011.

    • motiger68 5 years ago

      I hope Westbrook stays in St. Louis because I don’t want him to go to Cincinnati since they already have enough pitchers. In all seriousness, I bet he returns to Cleveland with a multiple year contract. I am hoping the Cardinals go after Cliff Lee or some other but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen anytime soon but I could be wrong.

      • They can’t afford Cliff Lee.

      • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

        Cleveland won’t bring him back at his former price (3/33), but 2/15 would buy them a lot of development time for some of the promising pitchers at the lower level of their minors. It’s no secret that Westbrook and the Indians have had a mutual deep respect for each other.

        • Hermie13 5 years ago

          I simply do not see the fit in Cleveland.

          Tribe may have to cut a starter as they are just way, way, way too deep. Again, don’t confuse “deep” with way too much talent…

          But Carmona, Masterson, Talbot, Carrasco, and Tomlin in Cleveland (the first 4 are locks barring injury).

          Then in AAA? Huff, Gomez, McAllister, Kluber, and Pino.

          Then in AA? White, Hagadone, Barnes, De La Cruz, and Berger.

          Then in high-A? House, Pomeranz, Gardner, Haley, and Soto (among others).

          I’m not even counting Anthony Reyes who I think they cut. Or Matt Packer who has pitched at A, AA, and AAA as a starter. Or Rondon who is out with an injury (though likely missing all of 2011).

          Also not counting the promotions of White (who will be in AAA very quickly) and Pomeranz throughout the year.

          There simply is zero room for Westbrook in Cleveland unless they start dealing starting pitchers.

          • I don’t know if it holds any weight, but in an interview following one of Masterson’s gems against the Sox this year Acta said Masteron may end up being a reliever still. I don’t think they’re 100% sold on him starting just yet, although it seems like they’re willing to give him another shot next year.

            I’m still bummed about the Sox giving up Hagadone, though. If he can keep his arm healthy, he should be a premier lefty one day.

          • Hermie13 5 years ago

            Actually, Acta was asked just last week and he said Masterson is 100% a starter for 2011. He’s been the Indians BEST starting pitcher this year.

            His FIP is top 25 in the AL and his xFIP is top 20 (better than Cahill and Bucholtz).

            Hagadone is the one guy that probably will move to the pen, but the Tribe has said he’ll be in the rotation at least at the outset of the year. Ran out of gas this year, hopefully his stamina (and control) improve. Worst case I think he’s a Billy Wagner type guy.

            LOVE that Victor trade for Cleveland by the way. Price is going too be a solid 7th inning reliever. Masterson is at worst a #3 starter in the mold of Westbrook (another reason Jake makes no sense for Cleveland). Then Hagadone who at worst is a great lefty reliver in the Matt Thornton mold, at best he’s a solid SP or closer.

            Consider Santana is already a better all-around catcher than Martinez….and a great trade for Cleveland.

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