The Athletics guaranteed $10MM to Ben Sheets in January even though he'd missed the entire 2009 season due to elbow surgery. The signing was not a success, but Sheets' upside must have been tantalizing for the A's. This winter, free agent Brandon Webb presents a more exaggerated risk/reward scenario for teams. Webb is two years removed from the Majors due to shoulder surgery, but his agent Jonathan Maurer still considers Sheets' deal a "conversation starter." Webb missed more time than Sheets, but Maurer's client finished first or second in the Cy Young voting each year from 2006 to '08.
Today Maurer provided MLBTR details about Webb's September/October instructional games, and also said he expects 30+ starts from his client in 2011:
Brandon pitched for the first time competitively (in 17 months) in September and October in three instructional games. The first game, Webb threw 80% and was 78-80 mph. The second game Webb was closer to 90% and was 81-83, and the third game, Webb, still laying back a bit, was 81-85. The reality is that Brandon showed good pitchability (he had strong movement on his signature sinker, plus plus change, and plus breaking ball). What he also had was some rust on location. Brandon's velocity is of very little concern to those that watch a lot of games. His arm strength is indeed coming back, and honestly, he pitched at 87-90 all of 2008 (when he won 22 games) and that is only 2-5 mph off where he was in October.
Brandon's surgeon, Dr. Keith Meister, fully expects him to prepare at a normal pace to be ready when camp opens in February, for whomever signs him. Brandon is hungry, excited, and ready to start 30 plus times in 2011. There is nothing to indicate he won't, with all the work he has put in and his consistent offseason workout program.
So far reports indicate that the Dodgers and Nationals have checked in on Webb, though surely many more clubs have kicked the tires. Back in October, John Tomase of the Boston Herald reported that 21 teams watched Webb throw at Chase Field. Will Webb reach the $7.5-10MM guarantee his agent seeks? I think he may fall a bit short, but $5-6MM would not be surprising. Incentives should allow the righty to top $10MM. Webb's first bout with free agency comes at an inopportune time in his career, but a vintage 2011 season would result in a huge contract.
wouldn’t it be weird to see webb in LA? gibson, AZ’s manager see webb pitch against his team. gibson, the former dodger…. man what a sight, huh?
Ahem, paging Jed Hoyer. Thanks-
Totes. Maybe run him by Dr. Andrews first to see if he is more Drew Brees or more Mark Prior after surgery.
Underpaid his entire career? He made $15M over the past two years, without pitching a game. That makes up for the $12M or so he got during 3 Cy-caliber years.
You’re right, there was a better way to say what I was trying to and I changed that sentence.
No worries. Just had the whole notion of “paying a pitcher to sit on the DL” bouncing through my mind, as we debate resigning Pavano here in Minny…
Hmmm, a sinker baller who’s had his glory days a couple years ago and is trying to return back to form…sounds like a job for Dave Duncan and the Cards to me!
That’s his agent talking. He’ll get paid once he shows something on the mound.
“There is nothing to indicate he won’t, with all the work he has put in and his consistent offseason workout program.”
Except for the fact that he hasn’t pitched in two years (aside from that one disastrous start).
I’d love to ask his agent to name one pitcher who has come back to throw 30 starts after missing two years due to injury.
I’ll guess that Webby signs with an NL team for $6M + incentives and that he hits a setback in Spring Training, makes his first start in May and throws eight mediocre starts before he hits the DL.
He could be a good fit for texas if they couldnt manage to resign Lee,They could trade for Greinke with their deep farm system and sign Webb as a backup.Webb if healthy could win a lot of games for texas and if grienke could keep on his feet he would do well also
He should not even consider signing with Texas and their ballpark. I think it’s better if he signs with an NL team.
I wouldn’t doubt Cincinnati has looked into it. Close to Webb’s home, his old pitching coach is in Cincy now and with our talent at pitcher right now he’d be in a low pressure market and could easily be a #1 – #3 starter, depending on which Webb finally emerges. Could also drop to the pen for a bit if needed. Just a thought from a Reds Fan. Not completely likely but not out of the question.
I actually grew up across the river from him, only a year or two behind him, my best friend played Babe Ruth league against him. Side story 🙂
Depending on the contract, I would love for the Cubs to look into Mr. Webb. It is a risk, but also could be a grand reward.
I was wondering about that. Perhaps the Ricketts would be okay with a contract heavily loaded with incentives. If he does well it could put them over their projected payroll but if he does well then it’s probably worth it. Dunno what they’re thinking or what Hendry feels about Webb, but remember Hendry pulled Dempster off the injury pile and he’s turned out pretty well. He tried the same thing with Wade Miller and it didn’t work but Webb is much more talented, if you’re going to take a shot he’d be the guy to do it with. Just check those medicals closely, don’t take the agents word for it.
As an A’s fan, the Sheets signing was a head scratcher at the time and turned out just about as expected. Webb would seem like more of a risk worth taking for a team like the Dodgers, who can afford it, or even the Nationals where he could be part of the veteran leadership for guys like Strasburg.
If the Dodgers bring back Kuroda, there’s no way they spend that kind of money on another starter.
if he doesn’t have any recurring injuries during the season, i think Dave Duncan can make him to an outstanding pitcher. He already has an above average sinker, something Duncan absolutely salivates over. i wonder if he would take a slight discount to be able to work with Duncan and get his career back on track. would make for one hell of a rotation if he came back to even 80% efficiency.
Unless Duncan has the ability to heal shoulders, Webb doesn’t need him to be an “outstanding pitcher.”
Dave Duncan is just a pitching coach, if the guys arm is shot there is nothing to be done. You guys write about Dave Duncan as if we should Bronze his Stool.
I would only sign him for 1yr, because he had that injury, but if he could come back and return to his old form he could be a big threat to hitters.
He’s the kind of guy the Red Sox or Cardinals may take a chance on. I really like Webb and think if he can stay healthy, he’s going to be effective and then some in 2011.
I’m not sure about the Red Sox, but I could definitely see the Cardinals taking a risk on him.
Webb would make for a perfect one year signing at $5-6 million for San Diego. The Padres ballpark would increase Webb’s value as a 2012 Free Agent if he can pitch well. (See Jon Garland)
This is the kind of “reclamation project” that Theo Epstein loves to gamble on. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in Boston, St. Louis, or Tampa Bay, if Garza or Shields gets traded. Although I was hoping that my Yankees kick the tires on Webb. He can’t be any worse than Javier Vazquez…
And what a tangled Webb Agent Maurer and Brandon have woven.