One of the nice things about having InstaGraphs is that there are some transactions that are maybe worth mentioning in passing, but probably aren’t worth full length write-ups. Now that we have a section dedicated to shorter, quick-hit type pieces, we can justify writing about things like the Cubs trading for Felix Doubront.
On the one hand, there are some things to like about Felix Doubront. He’s 26, left-handed, and has a career FIP- and xFIP- of 103, which are essentially league average for a starting pitcher. He’s also under team control through 2017, so unlike a lot of guys getting moved today, he’s not going to be a free agent for a while.
Of course, there are a lot of things to not like about Doubront as well. His career ERA- is 116, as he’s never been able to get his results to match his peripherals. And even those underlying numbers have gone the wrong way this year, as both his K% and GB% have gotten much worse. His 2014 xFIP- is 127, so for the last 60 innings or so, Doubront has been basically a replacement level arm. And while he’s under control for three more years, those are his arbitration years, so he’s going to cost some really money, especially if the Red Sox figure out how to him.
In some ways, Doubront is not that different from what Jake Arrieta was when the Cubs got him from the Orioles last year. The Cubs struck gold with Arrieta, and it’s understandable that they’d want to take another shot at grabbing a young pitcher from the scrap heap and seeing if they can turn him into something useful.
It probably doesn’t hurt that Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod were all part of the Red Sox when Doubront was acquired and developed, so they all saw him as the promising young pitcher he once looked like, rather than the going-the-wrong-way guy headed for a non-tender this off-season.
Not every Jake Arrieta works out, though, and Doubront probably won’t. For every 10 of these guys you throw at a wall, maybe one or two stick. But if you’re the Cubs, there’s little harm in trying.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.
He’ll probably do way better in Chicago than the AL East, but I think that potential everyone used to love about him is greatly diminished with a ~4 mph decrease in his fastball.
His pouting in Boston basically forced them to sell him at his lowest value.