The Athletics' last offseason was a risky one, with the team committing over $17MM to Ben Sheets, Coco Crisp, and Justin Duchscherer despite the trio barely playing in 2009. Duchscherer was the least risky of the bunch in that the A's only guaranteed him $1.75MM. The move did not pay off, as Duchscherer provided only 28 innings before undergoing season-ending hip surgery in June.
Duchscherer told MLB.com's Jane Lee he's open to returning to the A's, but let's take a look at his situation as he heads to free agency again.
- Duchscherer told Lee, "When I'm healthy, I've always proven that I can pitch." The 32-year-old righty made only 27 starts from 2008-10, but he posted a 2.60 ERA in those 169.6 innings.
- The price will be right - after two lost seasons in a row, Duchscherer should be looking at a smaller guarantee or even a minor league deal this offseason.
- Both of Duchscherer's hips and his pitching elbow have already been fixed, so as he says, "I can't imagine what else could go wrong."
- Clearly Duchscherer can't be counted on for innings; you just have to hope for a year with minimal DL time.
- These upside pitching signings have a high failure rate - of the $36.35MM guaranteed this year to Duchscherer, Erik Bedard, Rich Harden, Brett Myers, Scott Olsen, Brad Penny, Ben Sheets, and Chien-Ming Wang, only Myers was worth it.
Duchscherer will still find a big league deal, but his base salary will be closer to $1MM this time. A few weeks ago, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith listed 14 teams that might be interested in this type of starter during the offseason.