Detroit Tigers Should Steer Clear of Andrew Bailey in Search of 2013 Closer
In Sunday’s edition of the Boston Globe (subscription required), Nick Cafardo (via MLB Trade Rumors) suggests that the Tigers and the New York Mets could be potential suitors in trying to land the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year.
In just his fourth season, Bailey has missed chunks of the last three due to injury.
Acquired by the Red Sox last winter with outfielder Ryan Sweeney in a trade that sent Josh Reddick and two minor leaguers to the Oakland Athletics, Bailey was injured in spring training last year and never had the chance to be the closer the Red Sox were looking for.
The Tigers plan to replace departed closer José Valverde with rookie Bruce Rondon.
A pure rookie, Rondon pitched in Advanced-A, Double-A and Triple-A last year as he moved up the Tigers' minor-league chain.
If one is to look at the two choices of potential closers, Bailey and Rondon, one would see the difference between the two is not enough to justify the Tigers making a deal.
A look at Rondon’s minor-league stats tells you why there might be reason to worry about him making the jump straight into a major-league closing role.
Rondon does not possess the best command of the strike zone. Through the five seasons of statistics Baseball Reference has collected on him, he has walked 111 batters in 119 innings. This includes his partial season as a starter in the Venezuelan Summer League.
In 2012, combining all three levels where he pitched, he walked 26 in 53 innings. While he is very good at not allowing many hits, that lack of control makes up in a hurry what he gains by striking out hitters.
That is not to say that Rondon is not capable of being a very good closer for the Tigers.
Should Bruce Rondon get the closer job?
But Rondon is only 22 years old and, if he does break camp as the team’s closer, will be under tremendous pressure to actually perform the job.
If things do not go well for Rondon early, there will be heat on general manager Dave Dombrowski to cash in his potential trade chip with Rick Porcello and land a big league closer for the Tigers.
That would be way too high a price to pay for the oft-injured Bailey.
Bailey has not broken the nine strikeouts per nine innings mark since his rookie season. In fact, that number dropped to 8.2 in 2012 coming off his hand injury.
Bailey also comes with a price tag of $4.1 million and only has one more year of arbitration left. Rondon, on the other hand, has yet to see his clock start.
Do not expect the Red Sox to trade Bailey if his outings in spring training are even close to the form that he brought to the major leagues in 2009. If the Red Sox get eager all of a sudden to move him, then the Tigers should just stay clear.
While Rondon may be an unproven commodity starting the 2013 season, Detroit can afford to be patient with him for a little while as he makes the adjustment from Toledo to the Tigers.
*Statistics via Baseball-Reference.com
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