Brandon McCarthy has had a strange career so far, one that has featured an ascent to relevance, a descent to nothingness, and then a reemergence as a very good starting pitcher. That’s the short description; I didn’t even get into the stuff about him getting hit in the head by a batted ball in terrifying fashion. McCarthy is now a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation, as the 29-year-old right-hander signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal with the team. McCarthy will get $2.5 million up front, $4 million in 2013, and $9 million in 2014.
McCarthy had a great season in 2011, tallying a WAR total of 4.8 thanks to an extremely low walk rate (1.32/9), a 2.86 FIP, and a 3.30 xFIP over the course of 170 2/3 IP. Injuries limited McCarthy to just 111 innings in 2012, though he was certainly effective when he did take the mound. McCarthy pitched to a 3.24 ERA, 3.76 FIP, and 4.23 xFIP in ’12, and his walk rate remained as impressive as virtually any pitcher in the game’s (1.95 BB/9).
There really isn’t anything not to like about this deal. So long as McCarthy can stay healthy and avoid any more freak accidents, he’s going to be worth much more than what the Diamondbacks are giving him. He actually has the potential to miss more bats than he often does (a move to the National League might help him out in that regard), he never walks anyone (I think we pretty much covered that), and he simply knows how to pitch. While the jury will be out until we see how his shoulder holds up, MCarthy has every chance to be worth more than double the amount of this new contract if he pitches like he did when healthy the last two seasons.
I just want to take a moment to praise the Diamondbacks for getting this deal done. With so many teams scrambling to throw money away to the wrong guys, it’s downright impressive to see a signing like this get done. McCarthy is going to be paid less than Brandon League, Jeremy Affeldt, and Jonathan Broxton next season. That’s just mind-boggling, but it’s certainly worth mentioning.