I saw on mlbtraderumors.com that Tim Wakefield is considering retiring in light of the fact that the Red Sox apparently have no interest in bringing him back in 2012. When the team’s new manager is reported stating that he “can’t imagine” Wakefield coming in and competing for a job in Spring Training, it’s a pretty safe to say Wakefield is through as far as the Red Sox are concerned.
The Pirates should consider signing Wakefield. He started his career in Pittsburgh and might be willing to return for a year (or so) rather than hanging up his cleats for good. There’s always something of a feel good story when a veteran player returns to the team on which he started his major league career after years playing elsewhere.
More importantly, I think Wakefield could be a useful player for the Bucs at a reasonable price. Wakefield is finishing a two-year $5 million contract.
His ERAs have been a little over 5.00 each of the last two seasons, but Fenway is tough place to pitch. Fangraphs says his value over the last two seasons was $9.2 million, which is a lot less than what the Red Sox paid him. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Pirates could sign him for 2012 at about $2 million.
The Pirates have enough better, younger starters to fill out their rotation next season, but Wakefield would be a useful low-cost insurance policy. Only James McDonald made even 30 starts for the Bucs last season, none of their starters pitched even 175 innings, and all their starters except McDonald, while posting respectable ERAS, had terrible K/IP ratios.
Those kind of pitcher tend to get hurt more often that strikeout pitchers, so there could be real value to having a veteran around who is virtually a sure thing when it comes to his ability to eat innings. $2 million wouldn’t be much for that kind of certainty.