Non-Tender Candidate: Dallas Braden

Two years and three months ago, Dallas Braden was on top of the baseball world. He had just thrown 19th perfect game in baseball history on Mother's Day with his grandmother in the stands. The left-hander finished the season with a 3.50 ERA in 30 starts and 192 2/3 innings, further cementing his place in the Athletics' rotation.

Uspw_4690664Braden, now 29, has made just three starts since the end of that season. He allowed seven runs in 18 innings across three starts last April, and has been on the shelf with shoulder problems ever since. Braden had surgery to repair a torn capsule one year and one week after his perfect game, and was expected to be ready in time to return to the team early this season.

Instead, the shoulder continues to give Braden problems and as Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported, he will have another procedure soon. This one will be exploratory but will cost him the rest of the season nonetheless. Fellow starting pitchers like Chien-Ming Wang, Johan Santana, and Brandon Webb have had shoulder capsule surgery in recent years with mixed comeback results.

Unlike those three, Braden is not a power pitcher. Even before the surgery his fastball averaged a little less than 88 mph, the 15th lowest average fastball velocity among the 156 pitchers who threw at least 400 innings from 2007-2011. Braden was a classic finesse left-hander who relied on his fastball and changeup to keep hitters off balance, so perhaps a potential loss of velocity due to the surgeries will have minimal impact on his effectiveness going forward.

Either way, the Athletics have to decide if their 24th round pick in the 2004 draft is worth the investment post-surgery very soon. Braden will earn $3.35MM without throwing a pitch this season, and will be eligible for arbitration for the third and final time this winter. He doesn't figure to get any kind of raise – he didn't a raise from 2011-2012 – however that remains a hefty investment for low-budget A's.

Oakland has enviable rotation depth going forward with Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, and Dan Straily all in their pre-arbitration years, plus Brett Anderson potentially under contract through 2014. They could decide that sinking more money into Braden isn't a wise investment considering the potential for zero return, so a non-tender in December looks like a very real possibility for the southpaw.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

15 Responses to Non-Tender Candidate: Dallas Braden Leave a Reply

  1. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Braden has FA ahead of him in 2013 that could be a motivating factor and regardless. Oakland could just off the same 3.5m salary and probably retain him, hope he pitches average and move him at the deadline next July.

    Looking to FA doesn’t seem to motivate all FA of course, Matsuzaka has laid back on the DL all season and Braden has a more severe injury to recoup from. i would think 3.5m is a solid gamble.

    • Iconoclast17 3 years ago

      They won’t offer $3.5 million to Braden. It’s not clear he will even be able to resume his career. Non-tender is the way to go as others have suggested.
      McCarthy is a better pitcher than Braden, but he’s pretty risky too. I see him leaving (or the A’s letting him leave) for greener pastures elsewhere.

  2. Mike Nicolich 3 years ago

    He should have been non-tendered last year. The A’s are paying him $3.5 million to not pitch this year and that is too much for a small market club.

  3. jb226 3 years ago

    Honestly, the Cubs should be in on pretty much any starting pitcher with some upside who gets non-tendered (Braden? Stauffer?) They have nothing really ready in the minors, they already got rid of Maholm and Dempster and may very well get rid of Garza (though probably midseason unfortunately). Take some risks on guys like this and try to flip them at the deadline for some pitching prospects.

  4. jpkinney7 3 years ago

    He gone.

    2012 A’s Starting Rotation: Anderson, Parker, Straily, Griffin, Milone (very similar to Braden)

    Love Dallas Braden, but use the extra money (and the Suzuki $$$) to Sign Brandon McCarthy to a 3 Year Deal.

    • melonis_rex 3 years ago

      The A’s organizational strength is developing pitchers.

      Signing an injury prone pitcher (he’s had one full season in MLB) to a 3 year deal after missing half the season with injury, is already a questionable move for any team, let alone a team who’s organizational strength is pitcher development and depth.

      Unless the AAV was really low, but McCarthy has no reason to take such a deal (better off going 1 year with a higher AAV, which is reasonable).

  5. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Lot of A’s people here think he is gone, but I can think of 2 GM’s who will be stumbling over themselves to sign him to a incentive laden deal:

    Theo Epstein and Dan Duquette

    both love these types and were never afraid to sign injured pitchers looking to make a comeback. Duquette hit the jackpot with Saberhagen. Sighed him in ’97 after missing all of the ’96 season with yet another shoulder injury and he missed most of that year, but was his superb self again in ’98 and part of ’99 before finally getting hurt yet again.

    I got a feeling the SP starved orioles will smell this one out and if braden wants to win? he will choose the orioles.

    • jpkinney7 3 years ago

      Can you Non-Tender, and re-sign a player? If so, I could actually see the A’s keeping him, and signing him to that “incentive laden” deal you speak of. Braden loves the A’s. A’s Fans love Dallas Braden. The 209 is strong.

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

        Oh yeah. it is done sometimes, especially when a player likes a town and wants to come back and both sides agree the previous salary was high/player finds out the salary was more than can be obtained in the open market.

        • melonis_rex 3 years ago

          yep. and braden’s known to be a great clubhouse presence/leader, and oakland is an awesome place for a pitcher to rebuild his career. And Braden’s from the area anyway.

          I see him being nontendered, but resigning for an incentive laden deal with Oakland.

          • johnsilver 3 years ago

            With you thinking he resigns in Oakland 1st. if he doesn’t? it’s orioles/Duquette and Epstein and the cubs courting him hard I should have said Rex.

            Incentive laden deals for this type work best, not major dollars like unfortunately Harden got and we all admit it was a mistake, Epstein learned his lesson with Smoltz also.

            I think braden has more upside than both with his lesser mileage on his arm altogether, so that incentive laden deal idea we are suggesting could get blown out of the water if one of those 3 (or another outside owner) somehow guaranteed him money.

            I would hope Braden saw the advantages of pitching at Oakland also as you suggested also..

            Excellent post by yourself.. hit every target well.

  6. I was at the Braden perfect game, and have seen many of his starts. He can really keep a team in the game, even when he doesn’t have his best stuff. And his changeup is one of the best in MLB, generating many swings-and-misses. He’s similar, just in terms of his injury and his changeup, to Johan Santana. Obviously Johan has had mixed results this season, but there’s reason to believe Braden, if the forthcoming surgery is just exploratory (them looking for loose cartilage, etc.), WILL rebound and contribute a lot in 2013. Yes, the A’s should non-tender him, though, since there’s like 8 starting pitchers, not even counting Braden or Tyson Ross. (Parker, Milone, Griffin, Anderson, Colon, Straily, McCarthy, Blackley)

    • melonis_rex 3 years ago

      Colon and McCarthy are free agents after the season, although I could see one or both of them back next year (Colon’s age is going to stop him from getting another multi year deal, and McCarthy’s injury history is a wild card).

      Having only six serviceable starters, especially when one will be less than half a season removed from TJS and two have less than half a season of MLB experience is a recipe for disaster (or Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey making lots of starts, which is also bad). The A’s used about 10 different SP this season.

      • Iconoclast17 3 years ago

        Beane always finds some veteran arm(s) in the off-season. I think Colon and McCarthy are both gone. He’ll bring in somebody else, Rex. He always does.

  7. Depending on the internal budget of the A’s…if Braden will be available for spring training, and I were Beane, I’d file for arbitration at the same figure he made this year. However, the Yankees, with a bigger budget, after the 2009 season, chose to not tender Chien-Ming Wang a contract. This could go either way.

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