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Where Does Jarrod Washburn's Value Go From Here?

Mar 26, 2010 – 1:00 AM
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Paul Bourdett

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Jarrod WashburnWith Cliff Lee (abdominal strain) a good bet to start the season on the DL (he'll also serve a five-game suspension for intentionally throwing at Chris Snyder's noggin once he's activated), Doug Fister and Garrett Olson nursing injuries, and Erik Bedard's status perpetually in limbo, Seattle sure could use some rotation help.

According to SI.com's Jon Heyman, it appears that help could come in the form of ex-Mariner Jarrod Washburn.

FanHouse's John Hickey reports that Washburn has been on a throwing program in recent weeks and is sitting by the phone waiting for the Mariners to call, but Washburn's agent, Scott Boras, hasn't talked to the Mariners in weeks. The 12-year veteran just recently turned down a $5 million deal with the Twins.

For now, it sounds like nothing more than a rumor. If Seattle and Washburn do come to an agreement within the next few days, though, what are the fantasy implications? Let's take a look at Washburn's performance from last season for some insight.

Armed with a new cutter, Washburn pitched some of the best baseball of his career with Seattle in 2009, posting a 2.64 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 20 starts. Some of that production could be attributed to luck (22.5 percent hit rate w/SEA), but it couldn't have hurt that perhaps the best outfield defense in all of baseball (tip of the cap to Fra-Gu and Ichiro) had the extreme flyballer's back. Safeco Field also lent him a hand as the third-least homer-friendly ballpark in the AL, according to ESPN.com's park factors.



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When Washburn was traded to Detroit in late-July, his luck, defensive help, and health all took a dive. In eight starts and 43 innings with the Tigers, he put up an Dontrelle Willis-like 7.33 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. On the surface, it didn't appear as if bad fortune played a role in his demise (29.6 percent hit rate was right around the league average), but the number of long balls he allowed was quite literally astronomical. Over 18 percent of flyballs soared over the fence on Washburn's watch, almost an eight percent difference from his previous worst as a pro, and about 10 percent higher than his career norm. He did himself no favors by striking out around four batters per inning nor did it help that he issued more walks per nine frames as a Tiger than he had in nearly a decade.

To be fair, Washburn pitched through left knee inflammation in the second half, an injury that kept him off the mound the final three weeks of the season. He had arthroscopic surgery on the knee in late October.

Washburn will be 36 in August, but if he's tossing the pill at Safeco behind the same world-class D he did last season, I'm inclined to believe he'll be worth that last-round pick (ADP: 343) in 12-team mixed leagues (or the buck/reserve pick in AL-only affairs). It would be foolish to expect similar ratios to the ones he put up in Seattle in '09, but a 4.25 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and double-digit wins aren't out of the question. Just don't expect him to start striking people out all of a sudden. With a career 5.33 K/9, that's clearly not his forte.

For those in holds leagues that designate SP/RP roster spots, consider this: assuming Bedard returns at some point this year, the Mariners could squeeze value out of Washburn as a reliever (hat tip to Dave Cameron of Fangraphs and U.S.S Mariner for the splits):

WHIP BB/9 K/9 GB% FIP
vs. LHB 1.12 2.22 7.31 40.6 3.80
vs. RHB 1.36 2.77 4.55 34.9 4.78

Keep in mind, if Washburn does sign with the Mariners, his fake-game cost will significantly rise. If he doesn't? I just wasted 600-plus words on a rumor.
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