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Potential Under-Radar Free Agents for Cubs

By bullpenbrian at 11.07.2012 Leave a comment.

Interesting article from SI.com on a few below the radar type free-agents.

Some of the players mentioned piqued my interest as possibilities for the Cubs.

For each of those players I’ve included a snippet of the article summary below. To read in its entirety click here.

  • Jason Grilli, RP
    2012: Pittsburgh Pirates, 2.91 ERA, 13.8 SO/9 in 58.2 IP
    2013 age: 36

Since returning from a 2010 season lost to knee surgery, Grilli has improved his control dramatically and missed bats at an alarming rate. With both his fastball and slider netting swings and misses on at least 15 percent of his pitches in 2012, his 36.3 percent strikeout percentage ranked fourth among NL pitchers with at least 50 innings, behind only Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. He can be a setup man for a contender and will get a nice raise from this year’s $1.1 million.

  • Brandon Lyon, RP
    2012: Houston Astros & Toronto Blue Jays, 3.10 ERA, 9.3 SO/9 in 61 IP
    2013 age: 33

Lyon came into the year still recovering from surgery to repair tears in his labrum and rotator cuff and wound up with a new lease on life in the bullpen. Thanks to an increasingly effective curveball, he got the highest swing-and-miss rate of his career (18 percent of all strikes); his rate of strikeouts per nine, a pedestrian 5.8 from 2001-2011, shot up to 9.3.

  • Maicer Izturis, IF
    2012: LA Angels of Anaheim, .256/.320/.315, 2 HR, 17 SB in 319 PA
    2013 age: 32

Izturis isn’t fit for a full-time job, but as a guy who can play second and third competently (and spot at short, briefly) while getting on base at a better-than-league-average clip with virtually no platoon split (.276/.326/.367 versus lefties from 2010-2012, .259/.327/.357 versus righties), he’s a handy bench guy, though he’ll have to take a pay cut from the $3.8 million he made this year.

  • Joe Blanton, SP
    2012: Philadelphia Phillies & LA Dodgers, 4.71 ERA, 7.8 SO/9 in 191 IP
    2013 age: 32

He misses bats and has good control; his walk rate was the league’s third-lowest. Give him better defensive support than the .314 BABIP he suffered through in 2012 (.347 with the Dodgers, making for a bust of a trade), and a big enough ballpark to offset his flyballing ways and trim his inflated homer rate (1.4 per nine last year, 1.1 career), he can provide 180 or so innings of league-average work at the back of a rotation.

  • Scott Feldman, SP
    2012: Texas Rangers, 5.09 ERA, 7.0 SO/9 in 123.2 IP
    2013 age: 30

Thanks in part to the development of an effective changeup, his strikeout rate was the highest of his career — well above his career 5.0 per nine prior — and not simply the product of a ton of short stints out of the bullpen (it was 7.2 in 13 2/3 innings in the latter role). Meanwhile, his walk rate (2.3 per nine) was a career low, so his strikeout-to-walk ratio effectively doubled. His ERA was inflated by a .318 BABIP and a hitter-friendly ballpark; in Arlington, batters tagged him at a .300/.333/.487 clip, compared to .255/.307/.351 on the road. In a more hospitable environment, he can help.

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