Washington Nationals: Homer Bailey would be worth a low-cost flier
By Blake Finney
After the Cincinnati Reds traded Homer Bailey to the LA Dodgers, he was instantly cut loose. He could be a worthwhile pickup for the Washington Nationals.
Despite their two starting pitcher signings already, the Washington Nationals could look to add another arm to the rotation. The recently released Homer Bailey would appear to be a worthwhile flier for the team.
Bailey was part of the massive salary swap between the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers that saw Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood, among others, head to Ohio. The Dodgers immediately released Bailey though as they were only trying to clear money to stay under the luxury tax threshold.
He still gets final $23 million guaranteed for 2019 this season, meaning he can sign elsewhere for the major league minimum, similar to Greg Holland during last season. That’s where the Nats should step in and consider taking a flier.
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After spending $140 million on Patrick Corbin, and $19 million on Anibal Sanchez, the team needs to be careful how much they spend on more pitching. Therefore, adding Bailey on a cheap deal would be a perfect way to add depth, and take the pressure off of Joe Ross as the final starter.
While Bailey has struggled over the last three seasons, posting an ERA over six in each year, he has had some great seasons. In the three years before those woeful seasons, he posted a combined 3.61 ERA and excellent 1.194 WHIP as he limited baserunners well. After all, he didn’t earn that big $105 million deal for nothing.
There are no glaringly obvious signs that explain the drastic regression in the last few seasons. His velocity stayed roughly the same, his command was still roughly the same level as before, but yet his HR/FB% has spiked drastically, meaning his xFIP has sat in the mid-fours range the whole time.
If it is just a random increase in home runs that is causing Bailey to struggle, then perhaps just a change of scenery could help right the ship. The Reds’ ballpark is notably one of the more hitter-friendly parks in baseball, while Nationals Park plays fairly neutral now, so could be a potentially remedy and make Bailey a medium-upside play.
Even if it doesn’t end up working out, it doesn’t then cost the Nats much to cut ties given the league minimum salary. The same applies if Ross or Erick Fedde impresses enough to hold down a permenant rotation spot at any point in the year. That gives the Nats the flexibility they want.
Homer Bailey wouldn’t be a marquee signing for the Washington Nationals by any means. However, he could turn out to be excellent value and add some good starting pitching depth for a team that seriously lacks that quantity.