Dotel the Pirate?

Jose Valverde’s nearly blasphemous contract with Detroit likely developed too lately to help Octavio Dotel out. The 36-year-old was reportedly nearing an agreement with the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday afternoon in what should be a relatively low-cost maneuver assuming Neal Huntington is as smart as he appears to be.

Dotel last closed games on a routine basis with the Royals in 2007, spending time with the Braves and White Sox, both endowed with solid end-gamers themselves. Given that the Pirates non-tendered their closer, Matt Capps, earlier in the off-season, it would seem that Dotel will become their designated harbinger of finality, a job which could endear him to some team in need of pen help come July.

No matter the role, Dotel is an asset to any bullpen. Over the past three seasons Dotel has posted xFIP of 4.13, 3.38, and 3.73 while pitching mostly in the American League. Dotel’s fastball no longer zips across the plate at speeds routinely above 95 miles per hour, but he still misses enough wood while catching bats late enough to turn into harmless fouls to be a useful pitch. His contact rates have steadily been below 75% since 2007 and a move to the N.L. should help.

This is still the Pirates, though, which suggests there is a chance this deal could be the illegitimate cousin of Brandon Lyon’s ill-forsaken contract. Maybe it’s a leap of faith, but while he may save games for them, I doubt the Pirates have any illusions as to how much he is worth to their team. In five months’ time the clubhouse attendant won’t find the receipt of Dotel’s fake halo in Huntington’s trash can. Their concern right now is not about making the playoffs, but instead building a brand through player identity and by showing signs of competitiveness.

Dotel is not a bevel without a flaw, as he’s allowed at least one home run per nine in every season since 2004 and 23 total the past three seasons. PNC Park is tough on righties which will aid Doc Oct since 13 of those blasts were hit by right-handers (despite otherwise solid platoon splits). The majority of Dotel’s balls in play are put into the air – which explains the homer bug and also makes for some dramatic plays at the warning track.

I now fully expect Dotel to be paid equal to Rafael Soriano only to post a 6.50 ERA so everyone can resume mocking the Pirates.

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9 Responses to “Dotel the Pirate?”

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  1. NEPP says:

    Perhaps Huntington’s strategy is to stockpile relievers and then trade them at the deadline to contenders, thus this is just another way to restock their farm system…

    …its just crazy enough to work!

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    • John Franco says:

      It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard, but assuming that Dotel gets a deal worth around 4.5mil, then the Pirates pay about 3mil to keep him up to the deadline and then get a B-level prospect for him. For that same cash, they could go over slot on 3 late picks and they should end up with at least one B-level prospect. Of course it would take longer that way.

      Hopefully the money isn’t that high, though.

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  2. Matt Klaassen says:

    “Harbinger of Finality?”

    Love it.

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  3. Pat says:

    I’m guessing the contract is worth no more than 3M, maybe it will be 2M with incentives for games finished. I like the move, the Pirates really need work on their bullpen and if they can shape it up with one year committments for now it would be great.

    I’m just getting tired of every time the Pirates sign a player the talk is already about flipping him at the deadline. I don’t think this team is that bad, and I’m hoping they will stick with what they got this year and see where it takes them. Hopefully Alvarez can come up mid-season and make a Garrett Jones-like impact on the team.

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  4. Julius says:

    “This is still the Pirates, though, which suggests there is a chance this deal could be the illegitimate cousin of Brandon Lyon’s ill-forsaken contract.”

    That’s unfair. Huntington been very dollar to value conscious since taking over the buccos. He clearly knows the relative value of relief pitching given the Capps non-tender and the minor league contract briggade pulling into spring training this year.

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  5. Seven_Patch says:

    I agree with Pat and Julius. As a long time Pirate fan I can see signifigant progress towards a winning ball club (finally), Pirates will compete in a few years. I can’t see the Pirates spending too much money on Dotel if they weren’t willing to pay Capps.

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  6. CircleChange11 says:

    I think if the Pirates make a run at a winning season(something like 17 or 18 straight losing seasons), the stadium will be sold out for August and September.

    I think signing established and effective closers goes some measure to ensuring that late game leads don’t get lost … which is going to be key for a team that is going to heavily value every win over 70. The difference between 25 team blown saves and 15 blown saves could be all the difference in them “turning the corner” from abysmal to “hey, these guys might be worth watching once in a while”.

    If it doesn’t work out, and Dotel is pitching well, then they can “Marte” him to a playoff contender, and no harm – no foul.

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