Red Sox: 5 free agent pitchers who can replace Eduardo Rodriguez
Kevin Gausman’s resurgence puts him on the Red Sox radar
Speaking of former AL East pitchers who bet on themselves by accepting a qualifying offer last winter, Kevin Gausman is ready to cash in on his All-Star campaign.
Gausman was selected by the Orioles with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft put never lived up to that pedigree during six solid yet unspectacular seasons in Baltimore. He finished 2018 strong following a midseason trade to Atlanta but the Braves waived him midway through the 2019 season after he produced a 6.19 ERA through 16 starts. He was scooped up by the Cincinnati Reds and spent most of the remaining season in their bullpen.
Moving to San Francisco revitalized his career. Their pitcher-friendly park certainly helped but the Giants unlocked his potential by urging him to lean more on his split-finger fastball while relying less on other ineffective secondary pitches. Gausman held opposing hitters to a .133 batting average with his splitter, which he threw 35.3% of the time this season, per Baseball Savant. He became primarily a four-seam fastball/splitter pitcher. The slider that had been pounded by opposing hitters earlier in his career was more effective (.250 BAA) when used sparingly.
Gausman went 14-6 with a 2.81 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 10.5 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. His career-best 145 ERA+, which is adjusted for the player’s ballpark, proves his success wasn’t merely a product of pitching half his games in Oracle Park. Gausman actually fared better on the road (2.33 ERA) than he did at home (3.44 ERA).
The six-year, $138 million deal predicted by MLB Trade Rumors is the highest in terms of total dollars for any free agent pitcher on their list. That’s due to several of the top pitchers expecting shorter deals due to age or injury concerns. Six years is fair for a 30-year-old and the $23 million average annual value isn’t outrageous as long as teams are confident that their coaching staff can replicate what the Giants did to turn his career around.