The Orioles took a flier on Jeremy Accardo this off-season, hoping to bolster the back end of the bullpen. I noted that giving (just) over a million dollars to (basically) a replacement level player wasn’t the best idea, but that it wasn’t a significantly terrible move.
Accardo started the year in Baltimore, but struggled and ended up getting sent to the minors in mid-June (he was called back up when rosters expanded in September). In the majors this season, Accardo continued not striking out batters (just 5.4 K/9) while displaying poor control (4.3 BB/9). The 5.73 ERA might be a touch high (5.04 FIP, 4.99 xFIP), but it pretty much told the story – he wasn’t good at all. Slightly below replacement even (-0.2 fWAR in 37.2 IP). In the minors, things were a bit better; 2.16 ERA with a 2.5 K/BB ratio (though he did benefit from allowing only one home run, which seems a little lucky). Another swing and a miss on the free agent reliever front, I guess.
Maybe the scouts saw something in Accardo they thought they could fix and get him back to his old self. His repertoire did look different – fewer change-ups/splitters and a lot more slider and cutters. And his fastball velocity dropped about 1 mph. I’m not sure why he moved away from the split, since it seemed like his best pitch – especially since he faced about as many lefties as righties this season, and the splitter had a whiff rate about 6 times higher than the slider to lefties (but he still threw the breaking-ball to them more).
Giving Jeremy Accardo $1 M to be bad isn’t going to cripple the Orioles’ franchise, but spending half of that on someone who would be equally good and the other half on international prospects or whatever seems like it would have been a better investment.