It is fair to say that the Los Angeles Angels need pitching help. It is also fair to say that the pitching market is very thin at the moment and teams have to get whatever they can out there.
With that being said, the Angels have reached an agreement on a minor league contract with left-handed pitcher Mark Mulder that includes an invitation to the team’s big league spring training camp.
The 36-year-old is attempting a comeback to baseball after not having pitched since 2008 because of shoulder issues and has spent the past two years as an analyst with ESPN, beginning in 2011.
Mulder began his comeback attempt in November as he auditioned for the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks and numerous other clubs in Arizona, including the Angels, before agreeing with the club.
Mulder is 103-60 with a 4.18 ERA in nine seasons which started in Oakland as part as their young pitching corps which featured Barry Zito, Dan Haren and Joe Blanton. Mulder then joined the National League as he went to the St. Louis Cardinals, the team he last pitched for in 2008.
Mulder’s agent, Brian Charles of Big League Management Company, said in a statement, “Mark Chose the Angels because he has an opportunity to compete for a spot in the starting rotation. Along with the Angels being a championship-caliber club, that made it a good fit.”
The Angels currently have ace Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson manning the top of the rotation with Blanton, Garret Richards and recently acquired lefties Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago vying for the remaining three spots in the rotation.
Weaver had a down year last season after going down with injuries but he still managed to go 11-8 with a 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 117 strikeouts in 24 games pitched.
Wilson was the Angels’ workhorse last season as he won a career high 17 games with a 3.39 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 188 strikeouts in 33 games pitched, earning the contract he signed two seasons ago.
Blanton was just horrible last season as he went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA while Richards served as a reliever for the most part but was 7-8 with a 4.16 ERA and even earned a save.
Skaggs is a former Angels’ first round pick who was traded to Arizona for Dan Haren. He has had his production decrease but is still very young and a change in his delivery can make him the pitcher he was envisioned to become, but he’s still a work in progress. Santiago was a serviceable pitcher for the White Sox but is also very young and we don’t know what LA will get from him as well.
Mulder comes in on a $1 million contract if he makes the team and can go as high as $6 million with incentives reached. Mulder is said to be open to the possibility of starting the year in the minors if he doesn’t make the club out of Spring Training.
After two shoulder surgeries that derailed his career and ultimately led to his retirement in 2009, Mulder, who has not won a major league game since 2006, is looking to come back stronger than ever, he may never reach his highest point which came in 2001 when he went 21-8 with a 3.45 ERA but he may serve as a mentor for the young lefties who are coming, Skaggs and Santiago, while being a serviceable arm that the Angels desperately need.
The signing doesn’t take the Angels out of the running for another arm needed in the rotation as the Angels are in the bidding for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and are also keeping tabs on right-hander Matt Garza if they fail to land Tanaka.
A deterrent last season, the starting rotation might be one of the Angels’ biggest strengthens next season if everything pans out.
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