Jason Motte: Free Agent Target?
Jason Motte had a brilliant 2012 season as the St. Louis Cardinals closer, making 67 appearances, pitching 72 innings, and closing the door on 42 games. Then, in March of 2013, Motte suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss the entire season. Back for 2014, Motte struggled through back injuries, en route to a 4.68 ERA in 29 appearances.
While adding Jason Motte to the roster would be a risk for any team, it could be a limited risk, with a potential bug reward. The Oakland Athletics could use a solid right-handed reliever out of the bullpen for 2015, and Motte’s sticker price should be relatively low. He made $7.5M last season, but it is highly unlikely that any team would take a chance on him at that price. 2015 will be a used to reestablish himself, and help his market value for next year at this time, so a one-year, $1-2M contract is not out of the question.
2014 saw a drop in velocity from Motte, as well as a less control with his pitches. According to FanGraphs, Motte’s fastball was between 2-3 mph slower than it had been at any point between 2010-2012, with his cutter losing between one and two mph in that time frame as well. It is possible that with time, his arm will regain some strength and some of that velocity will return.
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When he was at his peak, between 2010 and 2012, Jason Motte averaged a 2.43 ERA and 63 appearances a season. Right now, the A’s don’t have a backup plan if Sean Doolittle falters in the closer role. I don’t think he will, but backup plans are always nice.
The A’s could also use a righty in the later innings, with Ryan Cook and Dan Otero being their best options at the moment. Otero has been fantastic the past two seasons, but has flourished taking the ball in many different situations, namely whenever the A’s need a big double play. Cook’s performance in 2014 doesn’t exactly inspire hope in the late innings moving forward, averaging four walks per nine innings last season.
The A’s also have Fernando Abad and Eric O’Flaherty, who would be excellent fits for the seventh and eighth, but they, like Doolittle, are lefties.
Jason Motte could come at a relative bargain, and with bigger names on the free agent reliever market, acting quickly could be in the Athletics best interest to adding depth to their already solid bullpen.