Adding to a run on bounceback pitching candidates, the Diamondbacks have struck a minors deal with lefty Antonio Bastardo, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter links). He’ll earn at a $1.5MM rate if he can make the team out of camp and can also accrue up to $4MM in incentives, though that is seemingly tied to games finished — a stat mostly accrued by closers. The deal also includes a March 25th opt-out chance, per the report.
Bastardo, 32, has at times been a high-quality setup man. But he stumbled in 2016 and, in particular, 2017. Over his last 76 2/3 MLB innings, Bastardo has been tagged for 16 home runs and 49 earned runs. He received only nine frames at the game’s highest level last year, struggling on both sides of a lengthy DL stint for a quad injury and ultimately being designated for assignment.
Clearly, something was off for Bastardo in his most recent MLB showing. He exhibited a loss of about 1.5 mph of average fastball velocity, doled out a walk per inning, and only managed to induce swinging strikes at about half his usually excellent rate (13.3% career).
That said, Bastardo turned in more promising results at Triple-A, where he allowed just four earned runs on 11 hits and nine walks while picking up twenty strikeouts in 18 1/3 frames. And there’s a deeper history to be considered, too. Between 2011 and 2015, Bastardo ran a 3.28 ERA with 11.3 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 in over three hundred major league appearances.