You could call Jeff Karstens many things. You could call him underwhelming, decidedly average, fragile, or HERP-DERP just to highlight a few options. Our friends at Productive Outs like to call him the River Wizard. That’s my favourite name for Jeff Karstens. You could also call him a Pittsburgh Pirate, again. As Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported, the Pirates have agreed to terms with Karstens on a one-year, $2.5 million deal.
That $2.5 million represents some savings for the Pirates, who had elected to non-tender the right hander after a moderately impressive turn in limited action last season. For what it’s worth, MLB Trade Rumors projected Karstens to command $3.8 million in arbitration. Neal Huntington and co. may have felt some trepidation in going to arbitration with a starting pitcher who has never thrown more than 162.1 innings in a single season. Karstens was held to just 90.2 innings of work in 2012 due to injuries to his hip, groin, and shoulder. Still, Karstens posted some decent totals in the way of a 3.97 ERA, 3.32 FIP, and 3.84 xFIP to go along with a pleasant dip in HR/FB of 7.8%.
With the Pirates’ deal with Francisco Liriano currently in limbo, re-signing Karstens to fill out the back end of the rotation makes a lot of sense. It makes sense because this:
According to ZiPS, Phil Irwin is the Pirates’ fifth best starter. Holy shit, this could get ugly.
— Pat Lackey (@whygavs) January 14, 2013
To try and spin this as a positive, the Pirates bring a guy back into the picture whom they’re familiar with. If Karstens can carry over the performance he briefly displayed last season then the Bucs could be in for a decent return on a frugal investment. Also, Jeff Karstens DERPin’ around the mound just wouldn’t look the same anywhere else.