The Cardinals managed to refrain from giving a ludicrous deal to Sean Burnett, but that didn’t stop them from grabbing fellow left-handed reliever Randy Choate. Choate and our very own Cardinals agreed to a three-year deal worth $7.5 million. By the time this contract is over, Choate will be 40 years old, which we’re told is actually only somewhere around 34 in LOOGY years.
Choate pitched for the Marlins and Dodgers in 2012, and his level of specialization is so severe that he only logged 38 2/3 innings. Over the course of those innings Choate pitched to a 3.03 ERA, 3.25 FIP, and 3.64 xFIP while striking out 8.84/9 and walking 4.19/9. Perhaps more importantly for perceived purposes, Choate held left-handed batters to an impressive .158/.243/.218 line. Obviously Choate knows what he’s doing against his same-handed kind, and he even has a few consecutive seasons of doing so to prove it. Against righties, though, Choate has struggled; don’t expect him to face many of them for Mike Matheny‘s team in 2013. And don’t get me started on the high walk rates that could prove deadly in high-leverage situations.
If you’ve read Spencer’s recent post on the possibility of Sean Burnett becoming a Cardinal, you probably already know how we feel about this contract. It isn’t like Mozeliak dumped a truckload of money in Choate’s lap or anything, it’s that his presence on the roster is not nearly as necessary as everyone believes it to be. The Cardinals already have a core of good young relievers that throw a thousand miles-per-hour and have no problem getting lefties out. The fact that those very same relievers are right-handed should not matter nearly as much as traditional baseball thought seems to insist it does.
In the end this contract looks like one that could easily reek of pointlessness at any point. That could come if Choate falters as many players at any position do when they approach 40, or it could come just as soon as someone in the organization realizes paying $2.5 million for 40 innings is silly when there are other guys up to the task. The monetary value isn’t really so bad, though; it’s keeping him around three years in a non-essential role that bothers me. A move like this could keep a younger, more interesting arm that could be used in many more ways off the roster.