Vance Worley was non-tendered by the Baltimore Orioles last week, putting him on the open market as a Free Agent. Last season, Worley appeared in 35 games, 4 of them starts. He worked a respectable 86.2 innings, going 2-2 with a save and a 3.53 ERA.
Those numbers are fine for a long reliever/spot starter, and make it surprising that the Orioles would think that about $3.3 mil would be an overpay for a durable, effective arm. What would cause a contending team to turn their back on a relatively young (29), specific role player?
Several possible explanations are presented over on Camden Chat. They appear to have several much cheaper options available, and still appear to be active in trying to land several more important Free Agents - like every team in baseball, apparently, their fans find Tyson Ross intriguing, and non-tendered catcher Wellington Castillo might be an attractive option to replace Matt Wieters. Money is needed to sign those players, and the Orioles also have some players that are going to command significant long term deals in the near future. Three million can come in handy.
For Milwaukee, $3 mil might not be too much for a durable long man/spot starter. It can be helpful to not have to go to Colorado Springs every time an extra start is needed, and effective multiple innings from the pen are crucial in saving the “late inning” guys for when it matters.
But wait! There’s more! Let’s look at Worley’s career a bit more closely.
Since his debut with the Phillies in 2010, Worley’s K% has steadily declined. His BB% has steadily increased. In 2016, he was below his career K% (15.3% to 17.4%), over his career BB% (9.6% to 7.4%). His WHIP held steady (1.37 to career 1.39), but his HR/9 was at 1.14 with a career rate of 0.88. His 2016 FIP of 4.82 is considerably at odds with his 2016 ERA (3.53). And his second half FIP was at 5.81 with only a 1.2% K/BB ratio.
The Brewers have acquired Steve Geltz on waivers this season, then outrighted him to AAA (a fine spot for him; emergency depth would perhaps be his best position), and Blake Parker, also off of the waiver wire. Neither is exceptionally exciting, but perhaps will provide depth at AAA so that arms the Brewers are interested in can work in AA instead of at Colorado Springs. They have Brent Suter, Rob Scahill, Jhan Martinez, Corey Knebel, Tyler Cravy, Michael Blazek, and Jacob Barnes available (along with Carlos Torres and Tyler Thornburg) to build a viable bullpen. Then there is Josh Hader, who could land the exact spot that Worley would fill for the Brewers in 2017. Other young arms might force themselves into consideration as well.
That amount of depth says that the Brewers do not need to spend in excess of league minimum to round out any holes they see in their system. Vance will have to find employment elsewhere.