Free-agent lefty Antonio Bastardo and his representatives at The Legacy Agency are seeking a contract that is roughly equivalent to fellow left-handed reliever Tony Sipp’s three-year, $18MM contract with the Astros, officials from clubs interested in Bastardo have told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
While that’s a sizable sum for any relief pitcher, the market for free-agent relievers has been strong this offseason, and Bastardo’s production over the past few years is similar to that of Sipp. Bastardo doesn’t have as strong of a two-year platform as Sipp carried into free agency, but he’s been a perhaps quietly excellent reliever over the past three seasons. In that time (split between the Phillies and Pirates), Bastardo has logged a 3.18 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 4.4 BB/9 and a 30.8 percent ground-ball rate. He’s also been effective against both left- and right-handed batters, holding same-handed opponents to a .167/.273/.295 batting line while surrendering just a .204/.310/.314 batting line even when his opponents hold the platoon advantage. Additionally, having just turned 30 in late September, he’s more than two full years younger than Sipp — an element that figures to work in his favor. Bastardo does have his faults, with sub-par control (career 4.3 BB/9 rate) and a previously served 50-game suspension for his ties to the Biogenesis PED clinic chief among them.
Bastardo is one of the top remaining relievers on the market, but his name hasn’t frequented the rumor mill much this winter. He’s been linked to the Twins and Tigers, although Detroit has since acquired Justin Wilson from the Yankees, potentially removing them as a candidate for Bastardo’s services. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted yesterday that a Twins official denied a report stating that the Twins aren’t interested in Bastardo, but Wolfson implied that the asking price could be beyond Minnesota’s comfort zone. Many other clubs, including the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Mariners, D-backs and Cubs have been linked to relief help in the past day or two.