Tampa Bay Signs Kyle Farnsworth

Steve Slowinski of DRaysBay was the first to report that the Tampa Bay Rays and Kyle Farnsworth have agreed to a one year contract that will see The Professor get paid $3.25 million, with a team option for an additional year.

It’s easy to joke about Farnsworth.  Boy, is it easy.  I mean, really easy.  So easy in fact that Jonah Keri tweeted, “The market inefficiency here would be comedy” as a means of matching Farnsworth to the Rays’ usual approach of picking up undervalued players.

Laugh all you want, but there’s something to be said about this pitcher, and it’s not necessarily comedic. We all remember his hilarious burn out with the Yankees a few years ago, but Farnsworth has actually become a much improved pitcher since then.  By adding a two seamer to his arsenal and improving the consistency of his release point, he’s been able to keep the ball on the ground, going from a fly ball rate over 51% in 2007 to 33.6% in 2009 and 36.3% in 2010.  As a result, his home run rate has reduced drastically from 2.24 HR/9 in 2008 to 0.72 in 2009 and 0.56 in 2010.

The changes in his approach have also allowed him to rein in his control, improving his K/BB from 1.78 in 2008 to 3.00 in 2009 and 3.21 in 2010.  Without an astronomically unlucky BABIP in 2009, .387 (.40 higher than his previous career high and .77 higher than his average), Farnsworth might be included in a list of the most valuable relievers over the last two years.

Let’s take a look at his improvement:

2007: 4.80 ERA, 5.04 FIP, 1.45 WHIP.
2008: 4.48 ERA, 5.49 FIP, 1.52 WHIP.
2009: 4.58 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 1.53 WHIP.
2010: 3.34 ERA, 3.06 FIP, 1.14 WHIP.

Over the last two years, Farnsworth ranks in the top twenty in FIP among relievers who’ve pitched at least 100 innings. He’s ahead of such notables as Scott Downs, Frank Francisco, Jason Frasor, K-Rod, Huston Street and even Jonathan Papelbon.

Despite losing several members of their bullpen from last year, the Rays additions this offseason, including Farnsworth and a veritable array of interesting Minor League talent, could very well surprise the rest of the league.  The Tampa Bay Rays never disappoint.

Comments (11)

  1. I was just in the midst of writing a piece about why the Jays were stupid to sign Dotel for $3.5-million if Farnsworth could have come for less. Obviously, Farnsworth may not have wanted to come to the Jays, but I still feel like Dotel is a far worse signing. Once again, the Rays appear to have made a solid signing.

  2. They’re by far the most interesting organization in baseball right now. I’m really looking forward to reading the Jonah Keri book when it comes out. Should be really interesting. This deal and others are the type that you can see what they’re going for, but you never would’ve thought it up.

  3. Stop it with Dotel. Seriously.

    First of all, as of now he’s making 750k less than Farnsworth. Second of all, he’s been more consistent than Farnsworth – it’s a little convenient to just ignore 2007-2008 if you are going to compare them as pitchers. Relievers are extremely volatile, and Farnsworth can just easily revert to his pre-09 form.

    2006-2010 :

    Dotel 12-12 34sv 234ip 4.08era 11.15k/9 4.62bb/9 1.31hr/9 34.1gb% 4.23fip 4.05xfip
    Farnsworth 11-17 7sv 288.1ip 4.28era 8.96k/9 3.43bb/9 1.22hr/9 36.6gb% 4.15fip 4.07xfip

    I appreciate that Farnsworth may be better. But I also appreciate Dotel’s consistency, that TB is much more desirable to pitch for than TOR, and that Dotel cost 20% less as of now. Add that to the facts that Dotel has more recent closing experience, has a higher Elias rating, and the Blue Jays have a manager you’d assume can expertly handle a bullpen, and I continute to see the Dotel signing in a positive light while I’m astounded by the cries derailing it.

    • 1) He’s guaranteed $250,000 more. Does it really matter if it comes at the end of the season or throughout the year?
      2) I’ll take the reliever whose numbers are improving over declining any day. You’re also completely ignoring the splits. Dotel is great against right handed pitching, Farnsworth is very good against both RH and LH. Which one do you think is more valuable?

      What are you talking about with this 20% less business? No one considers the amount of the contract to be without all the guaranteed money?

      Closing experience and Elias rankings? Seriously? If the Jays have a manager that can handle a bullpen, he’s not going to let Dotel close with his splits? You’re negating his worth yourself.

  4. I’m looking forward to the Keri book too but let’s see how TB fills out their roster before calling this one a shrewd move. Rany Jazayerli, the BP Royals fan who should know him as well as anyone, is confused by the move. The Rays still have massive holes in their infield and bullpen and lack a DH, so for me that 3.5m they are giving to Farnsworth could have far graver consequences if he stinks than the 2.75m the Jays are giving to Dotel, especially considering each club’s financial situation.

  5. I’m not saying that it’s not a good signing, I’m just saying farnsworth is better. I don’t mind Dotel as long as he’s used properly, but Farnsworth is much better against lefties and as Dustin says, he’s been improving every year for the past few. Dotel has been declining, quickly.

    Again, if Dotel is essentially used as a ROOGY, then I don’t think it’s the worst signing in the world, but if Farnsworth was available for cheaper…

  6. And yeah, I thought Dotel was guaranteed $3.5-million?

  7. I didn’t ignore his splits – I said I’m trusting Farrell to use him judiciously as of now, hopefully in tandem with a LHP like Purcey or Fuentes.

    I like to consider the possibility the team picks up the option, in which Dotel only cost the Jays 2.75m in 2011. From everything I can see Farnsworth is at least 3.25m before the declined option.

    Draft pick compensation is a big part of these relievers’ value, so yes I think Elias rankings matter – if Dotel is more likely to be a Type B FA he has more value, IMO.

    Again – not saying Farnsworth isn’t better than Dotel. Just bewildered that the same people who cried afoul over his signing think this is a good move for TB!

    • Using Dotel judiciously would mean not letting him face LH batters, ergo not as a typical closer, not one who’s going to collect saves, not one who’s going to improve on his Elias ranking. I think collecting relievers who could act as trade bait or give you a comp draft pick is a good strategy when you’re filling holes, as the Rays are, but I don’t see the benefit in spending $3.5 million on a player that doesn’t do anything that other guys on the roster don’t.

  8. He doesn’t need to collect saves – the 22 he got in 2010 puts him significantly ahead of Farnsworth in that category, and they are neck in neck in all the other ones. I assume the 22 saves is enough that even if he spent all of 2011 as the Jays 8th inning man he’d retain his Type B status provided he doesn’t suck. Farnsworth doesn’t have the benefit of 22 saves in 2010 and while you seem to think he’s been good over the last 2 years, he hasn’t been good enough for Elias Type B compensation – Dotel has been.

    You’re mistaken if you don’t think TB has the same Scott Richmonds, Carlos Villanuevas, Robert Ray, and Brad Mills-es of the world.

    AA & AF did the same thing with these signings – improve their bullpen for a cost that isn’t prohibitive while looking towards the FAs potential compensation for the future. Dotel was signed to fill the same holes Farnsworth is filling for basically the same price. If the Blue Jays overpaid a little bit because FAs don’t normally choose Toronto, that’s more than fine in this case – Toronto can afford 3.5m a lot easier than TB can afford 3.5m, considering they are contenders without a 1B, DH, or bench depth.

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