There were rumors of a crazy reliever contract going around today, but the O’s ended up signing a different former Blue Jays’ arm instead as they agreed to a one year $1.1 M deal with Jeremy Accardo. The 31 year-old right-hander had a couple solid seasons back in 2006-07, but things have really gone down hill since then. Accardo’s strike-out rate has fallen from the 7 K/9 neighborhood to just 5.4 K/9 over the past three years, and his walk rate has gone from ~3 BB/9 to almost 5 BB/9. He doesn’t throw as hard as he used to, but he still seems to get decent movement on his fastball and he has a good change-up (or is it a splitter?). He’s not missing bats though (his whiff rate is just 13% over the last three seasons – average is more like 20%), and that isn’t a great recipe when combined with poor control. Overall, Accardo is pretty much a replacement level pitcher (0.0 combined WAR – both f and br – from 2008-10), but he’s being paid more than double the league minimum.
I’m not really a fan of this signing – though I generally much prefer the “bring in lots of cheap arms and see who sticks” method of bullpen construction – since I don’t see any real upside with Accardo. It won’t take much for him to earn his money, but the guy just doesn’t seem like he’s worth giving innings to (and I doubt the O’s offer him arbitration for 2012, though he’ll still technically be under team control). And really, taking this million bucks and throwing it at an international prospect or two would probably make way more sense and pay off better in the long run. I’m not nearly as irritated as I’d be if the O’s signed Kevin Gregg for $12 M though. If that goes down I might start calling for Andy MacPhail’s head (metaphorically speaking, of course).
Edit: In retrospect, it’s not a terrible move. If it was for $0.9 M instead of $1.1 M I would have been fine with it. There’s absolutely no reason why spending this money should stop the team from investing in other areas – it’s their own issues causing that, I think.