Injury-prone lefties may be popular this offseason, as Mark Mulder will be looking for employment as well. The Brewers may be near the top of his list of possible destinations, and Milwaukee should have equal interest in the former two-time All-Star.
Mulder hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008 and hasn't pitched a full season since 2005. Any team that signs him to a contract is taking a big gamble as far as possible injury risk.
The upside to a potential suitor for Mulder is his relative inexpensive price tag. Any team that offers him a big league contract will have a decided advantage in obtaining his services. If they are willing to make it an incentive-laden deal with the possibility of a few million dollars provided he stays healthy and pitches well, Mulder will almost certainly sign the deal immediately.
The Brewers will be able to dangle an ace in the hole for Mulder as well. The team recently hired Rick Peterson as their pitching coach. Peterson served as the same role for the Oakland Athletics when Mulder experienced his greatest success in baseball. Ken Macha, the current Brewers' manager, also happened to be the manager in Oakland at the same time.
Peterson also worked with Mulder on his mechanics earlier this season when he was trying to prepare to throw for scouts. He was never able to get to that point, but there's no doubt that he and Peterson are very close.
From 2001-2005, Mulder was one of the best pitchers in baseball. In those five seasons, he averaged just under 18 wins a year.
His ERA only rose above four in 2004, and he only pitched less than 205 innings in 2003, although that was the same season in which he led the league with nine complete games.
Although no one would expect him to put up those type of numbers, he would definitely help a starting rotation that had zero starters pitch 200 innings, and only one (Yovani Gallardo) finish with a sub-four ERA.
The Brewers have had issues with injury-prone pitchers in the past. Unlike Ben Sheets , however, Mulder won't come with the price tag that Sheets did in the past or even for the upcoming season.
The Brewers should lay all their chips on the table and go after Mulder. A one-year deal with incentives totaling up to $3 million should be enough for his services.
The team could then look into a longer deal at the end of the season if he can maintain his health and pitch effectively.
Acquiring as many potential starters as possible should be priority number one for GM Doug Melvin this winter. A pitcher like Mulder could pay enough dividends to help transform the Brewers rotation into a whole new unit next year.
There is very little if any risk for the Brewers to pursue Mulder. If he doesn't pan out or gets injured at any point in 2010, the Brewers will be out less than a couple million dollars.
Should he remain healthy and regain any form from the early part of the decade, the Brewers will have acquired the biggest steal of the offseason.
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