Biggest Bonehead of the 2009-2010 Off-Season?

Tom DubberkeCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2010

As players go, that just might be Jarrod Washburn.  He turned down a $5 million offer from the Twins this off-season, in spite of the fact that the Twins are obvious play-off contenders heading into the 2010 season and Washburn has stated a desire to play near his Wisconsin home.

Last time I looked, the only major league teams anywhere near Wisconsin are the Brewers, Twins, and the two Chicago teams.  Last time I heard, the Twins were the only one of those four teams rumored to have any interest in Washburn.

Maybe Washburn’s real desire was to return to Seattle all along.  I kind of doubt it, though.  Instead, I tend to think he’s another badly advised Scott Boras-represented player who thought he had more of a market in a down year than he had any right to think.

Washburn’s chances of signing with any major league team for 2010 have to be shrinking by the day, at least in terms of what they will pay him to do so.  The Mariners are reported to have some interest, and the Twins are probably still interested, particularly in light of Joe Nathan’s injury and the possibility that the Twinkies will trade a young starter for bullpen help.

However, Washburn has now missed all of Spring Training.  In spite of his quip in mid-February that he never liked Spring Training anyway, it’s the 35 year old pitchers who really need to Spring Training to whip their old bodies and tired arms back into shape. This is particularly true for a 35 year old pitcher who went from leading the league in ERA to throwing up a 7.33 ERA in eight starts after his trade to  the Tigers and whose season ended on September 15 with a knee surgery.

If you sign Washburn now, you have to send him to the minor leagues for at least six starts to prove he’s ready to face major league hitters.  Remember, this isn’t Pedro Martinez, a former multiple Cy Young winner, we’re talking about, it’s Jarrod “Only One Really Good Season to His Name” Washburn.  Even Pedro had to settle for a pro-rated $5 million per season contract when he signed well into the 2009 season.

In fact, if I had to choose between the two at this moment, I would rather have Chad Gaudin than Washburn heading into the 2010 season.  At least Gaudin pitched this Spring, even if he didn’t do it well.

Gaudin signed for $700,000.  As a proven commodity, the Twins or Mariners might be willing to give Washburn somewhere between $1 and $2 million, but it’s hard to see any team paying Washburn more than that when the teams already have their 2010 salary structures set.

I also don’t buy the claim that Washburn really just wants to retire.  If that were the case, he wouldn’t have been hanging around looking for a deal all off-season.

You only get to pitch so many seasons in the major leagues, and 35 really isn’t that old in the greater scheme of life.  Washburn should have taken the Twins’ $5 million dollar offer when it was on the table.  If Washburn is forced into retirement a year early, he’ll have no one but Scott Boras and himself to blame.