If Mulder shows that he is healthy and that he can have any impact on the Angels, he'll get rewarded up to the level of $6 million. If he shows that he'll be unable to help the Angels this season, then the deal will cost the Angels nothing, according to the Orange County Register's Jeff Fletcher.
The 36-year-old Mulder will be attempting to come back to baseball after retiring following the 2008 season. Mulder was fighting shoulder issues from 2006 to 2008, pitching only a total of 106 innings in those last three seasons before he decided to retire. It seems like Mulder believes that the time away from the game has allowed him to regain his health.
In this article from Crasnick, Mulder talks about initially trying to emulate Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez's delivery and finding he had no pain in his shoulder while throwing 89-90 mph. All of this brought Mulder to the point of working himself back into shape and starting to work out for teams.
When Mulder was healthy, he was an extremely effective pitcher, posting a career record of 103-60 over the course of nine seasons, with most of the success coming during his first seven. Injuries to his shoulder derailed the end of his career, causing him to throw his last pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals at the age of 30.
Los Angeles general manager Jerry Dipoto has already spent most of the winter trying to add to the team's starting rotation by acquiring pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago to go with established veteran starters Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Both younger pitchers were acquired in a three-team trade first reported by ESPN's Keith Law. The deal caused the Angels to part with slugger Mark Trumbo.
The Angels rotation struggled for most of the 2013 season—one of the main reasons the team failed again to contend for the playoffs. The team let go of Tommy Hanson and Jerome Williams this winter and will likely move veteran starter Joe Blanton before the start of next season.
In light of the offseason's activity, Mulder is the MLB equivalent of a lottery ticket. If it hits, then the Angels look like progressive thinkers willing to look outside the box. If it doesn't work, then it will hardly affect Los Angeles this season.
The Angels are going into the deal with their eyes wide open, hoping the time away from the game will help Mulder regain his old form and give them a surprise boost in the 2014 season. If Mulder resembles anything close to his old form for more than 20 starts, this will be one of the best bargain signings of the winter.
The Angels have failed to make the playoffs in the past four seasons and would be unlikely to be picked to contend in the AL West at this point of the winter. For Los Angeles, there is a need to try anything and everything at this point to change its fortunes—even if it means taking a gamble on a pitcher who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008.
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