Gaudin catches on with Oakland

Via Ken Rosenthal, Chad Gaudin has reached an agreement with the A’s, just a few days after the Yankees released him. Gaudin enjoyed his greatest amount of big league success in with Oakland, posting a 4.42 ERA (4.69 FIP) in 34 starts back in 2007. It’s a shame the Yanks didn’t keep him for depth, and I’m not surprised he landed a new job before the end of the weekend. Oh well.

email

Chad Gaudin Released

According to The Star Ledger’s Marc Carig, Chad Gaudin has been released. He had been placed on waivers earlier this week. The Yanks only have to pay him 45 days of termination pay (approximately $737,500), so this absolves them of the bulk of Gaudin’s $2.95 million salary for 2010. They could always re-sign him to a minor league contract to keep him in the organization, but I don’t think it’ll be hard for him to find a big league job elsewhere. After all, there are teams out there seriously interested in Jarrod Washburn.

I’m really not sure I get this, Gaudin is a damn useful piece. I guess the team must really have faith in Sergio Mitre now that he’s further away from Tommy John surgery.

Report: Yankees place Gaudin on waivers

The battle for the fifth starter’s spot appeared to lose a candidate overnight, as Ed Price reports that the Yankees have placed righty Chad Gaudin on waivers. Several things can happen now…

  1. Someone claims him. The waivers are irrevocable, so whoever claims Gaudin will get him and his entire $2.95M salary, no questions asked.
  2. He clears, and the Yanks send him to the minors. They’d still owe him his full salary.
  3. He clears, and the Yanks choose to flat out release him. They’d still owe him 45 days termination pay, which would be $737,500 according to Ken Rosenthal.

Considering that he’s bounced around so much (six teams in seven seasons), I’m willing to bet Gaudin’s been outrighted off someone’s 40-man roster before, which is essentially what the Yankees are doing. Under that assumption, Gaudin has the right to refuse a minor league assignment and elect to become a free agent, however he would forfeit his entire salary by doing so. Given the current economic climate, I can’t imagine he’ll find more than $2.95M on the open market, so it seems unlikely that he’ll go this route. If he does, his agent will have given him some bad advice.

For the second straight year, Gaudin had a tough going in Spring Training. Last year the Cubs decided to cut him loose too close to Opening Day, so they had to pay him his full $2M salary. The Padres signed him for the league minimum, then flipped him to the Yanks in August. He’s allowed 16 hits and ten runs with a 5-5 K/BB ratio in 9.1 innings this spring, covering four total outings (two starts), which is obviously pretty bad. However, did the Yankees fall for the trap of Spring Training stats by waiving Gaudin instead of Sergio Mitre?

Sure, Mitre’s had an impressive spring (14 IP, 3.21 ERA, 14-3 K/BB), and with an $850,000 salary it’s less likely that he would have cleared waivers. Maybe the Yanks felt this was the best way to keep both players in the organization, since Gaudin’s hefty salary makes him less attractive than most of the other back-end types floating out there. I hope that’s the case, because there’s nothing in either player’s track record to suggest that Mitre is better option going forward than Gaudin.

In over 460 career innings in the American League, Gaudin has been the definition of league average. His 4.25 ERA equals a 101 ERA+, his .271 batting average against isn’t much worse than the .265-ish league average (basically one extra hit every 142 at-bats), and his 6.5 K/9 is right around the 6.8-ish average as well (one fewer strikeout every 30 IP). His walk rate (4.2 BB/9) is definitely high (~3.4 league average), but he mitigates it somewhat with a strong groundball rate (43.7%). There’s nothing sexy about league average, but it’s very valuable in the role he’s expected to fill.

Mitre, on the other hand, has never been league average at much of anything, even before having Tommy John surgery. Even in his best season (2007), he put up a 4.65 ERA (93 ERA+) and a 4.8 K/9, both below average by any measure. And that came in the NL, in a pitcher’s park. His groundball rate (59.7% career) is spectacular, but missing bats and avoiding contact is the name of the game in the AL East. Oh, and Gaudin’s more than two full years younger.

The move to waive Gaudin all but assures that Mitre will open the season as the long man in the bullpen, yet there’s not much to suggest he’s the right man for the job beyond Spring Training stats. Thankfully, we’re talking about two guys that amount to spare parts, though for all intents and purposes they represent the Yanks’ sixth and seventh starters. Hopefully Gaudin clears and they’re able to stash him away in Triple-A for the time being. It would be a shame to lose him for what amounts to salary relief.

Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar, AP

Winning the battle to get traded

New York Yankees’ Sergio Mitre delivers a warm up pitch in the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, in Port Charlotte, Fla., Friday, March 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

On a spring-like Friday, Joel Sherman dropped the not-so-breaking news that the Yankees will probably trade either Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin before Spring Training is out. Both of these vets have bounced around the league, and neither figures to be too high up on the Yanks’ depth charts. The team can’t send either to AAA, and instead of wasting roster spots, the Yankees will try to turn their surplus into something at all.

But who will go? In writing about it here yesterday, Mike voiced the prevalent opinion that Gaudin will stay. The soon-to-be 27-year-old has a better career track record than Mitre and has posted league-average numbers in the American League over 463 innings. Mitre, meanwhile, is 29 and with no real record of success. He wasn’t a highly-touted prospect while with the Cubs, and he hasn’t been very effective at getting outs as a Major Leaguer.

Yet the allure of Spring Training stats is strong with this one. Last night, in the Yanks’ 6-2 loss to the Rays, Mitre started and was stellar. Facing Major Leaguers who will make up most of Tampa’s Opening Day lineup, he threw 5 innings and gave up two runs on a pair of hits and a walk. He struck out seven. Gaudin relieved him and wasn’t effective. In 2.1 innings, Chad allowed three earned runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out just one and walked away with his third loss on the spring. The appearance effectively ended Gaudin’s hopes of landing the fifth starting spot.

On the spring, these two pitchers spot opposite numbers. Mitre has been the Yanks’ best starter. In 14 innings, he has allowed five runs on nine hits. He has walked three while striking out 14. Gaudin, meanwhile, has thrown 9.1 innings and has given up nine earned runs on 16 hits and five walks. He has struck out just five. Despite Mitre’s tradeability due to his lower salary, one might be tempted to say it is a no-brainer.

But the real question concerns Mitre. With a career K/9 IP of 5.5, he’s never been a strike out pitcher, and he’s having a Spring Training that makes one think of a flash in the pan. It’s true he’s another winter of strengthening away from Tommy John surgery, but nothing in his pre-surgical record suggests he will keep up this pitching success. Gaudin, at least, can rest on his AL laurels.

In the end, the Yanks don’t need to make a decision yet. They don’t need a fifth starter until late April and could juggle the rotation to keep both around until the right offer comes. When it’s time to trade one of them, though, I’d be far less sad to see Mitre vanish into the ether of the NL. He may be the Yanks’ Grapefruit League Cy Young, but history is littered with those pitchers who are Spring Training All Stars and revert to form come the regular season.

Report: Yanks likely to trade Gaudin or Mitre

Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees are “almost certain” to trade either Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre before Opening Day given the team’s depth at the back of the rotation. He mentions that the Diamondbacks – who have Ian Kennedy penciled in as their number three starter at the moment – are looking for rotation help, but I’ll add the Mets and Dodgers to the mix as well. Both Gaudin and Mitre and out of options, so they would have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors, which won’t happen. Trading them is clearly the way to go.

At a $2.95M salary for 2010, Gaudin makes more than three times as much as Mitre. He’ll also be a free agent after the season, while Mitre still has another season of arbitration eligibility coming to him. Mitre has been better this spring and is opening some eyes, but I’d look to deal him over Gaudin without thinking twice. There’s nothing in his track record to suggest he’s a better pitcher, while Gaudin has proven to be a league average AL pitcher (101 ERA+ in 463.2 IP in the AL) with a strikeout rate that has improved three straight years to the point of nearly one per inning. Neither player is going to fetch much in a trade, a Grade-C prospect at best, so I’d certainly keep the guy that would be more useful to the Yankees this season.