Matt Shoemaker is a Great Signing for Toronto…Here’s Why

When I got the notification that Matt Shoemaker signed for the Toronto Blue Jays, I immediately thought that it was one of the best deals of the offseason so far.

Before you abuse me in the comment section, hear me out on this. Shoemaker signed a one-year contract worth $3.5 million, a sum that is next to nothing in today’s MLB. Shoemaker’s former team, the Los Angeles Angels, spent a combined total of $20 million on two starters who are similar to Shoemaker in Matt Harvey ($11 million plus a potential $3 million in incentives) and Trevor Cahill ($9 million base salary plus another $1.5 million in performance incentives).

Let’s take a gander at the numbers for all three pitchers.

Shoemaker

Career record: 40-32
Career ERA: 3.93
Career WHIP: 1.20
Career ERA+: 99
Career FIP: 3.93

The numbers aren’t exactly all that impressive, but his career ERA and FIP are the same which means that most of what Shoemaker is done has not been affected significantly by the defense behind him. However, it also means that Shoemaker is incredibly reliant on the strikeout and susceptible to a high walk and gives up an alarming number of homeruns per year. The other major concern with Shoemaker is health as he has only managed to start 21 games over the past two seasons. This all makes him a buy low candidate with a potentially average ceiling that could fill a back of the rotation need for just about every team in baseball right now. While his breakout 2014 is looking more like an anamoly, his 2015 and 2016 campaigns are better evaluators of the pitcher you’ll receive which is a guy who can log 140 innings, pitch near a .500 record, and record average stats for a starter.

Browse his stats here

Cahill

Trevor Cahill pitching for the A's

Career record: 80-83
Career ERA: 4.08
Career WHIP: 1.36
Career ERA+: 100
Career FIP: 4.27

Cahill is by far the most proven big leaguer of the three pitchers, but he has been average for the duration of his career. Nothing about his stats really screams out anything alarming, and $9 million for an average starter is nothing outrageous, but it is when you look at Shoemaker, albeit Shoemaker has been far less durable. His FIP suggests that Cahill is at least somewhat dependent on a solid defense behind him, but even that is negligible when it comes to the big picture. Given the season that he had last year, Cahill is being overpaid given that his contributions were right around league average, and there is a scarcity of dependable back of the rotation arms on the open market.

Browse his stats here

Harvey

Matt Harvey pitching for the Mets

Career record: 41-44
Career ERA: 3.80
Career WHIP: 1.20
Career ERA+: 102
Career FIP: 3.58

In my opinion, Harvey is living off of the used credit he got from his 2015 campaign, and a resurgent second half with the Cincinnati Reds last season. His numbers are largely average, and his ERA, ERA+ and FIP numbers are all skewed due to the disparity between the Matt Harvey we have seen. Although his nickname was “The Dark Knight” in New York, an homage to Batman, he has pitched more like Harvey Two-Face having great years, and more recently, having years that lead to relegation to the bullpen and a refusal of assignment to the Minor Leagues. His FIP is three-tenths of a point lower due to some of the terrible defense he had behind him (namely the delusion that Wilmer Flores is anything other than a 1B/DH). However, Harvey is no more than a back of the rotation candidate who may pitch to a .500 record and average stats across the board.

Browse his stats here

Conclusion

All three players are fairly average pitchers, but Harvey and Cahill have been durable. Nonetheless, the disparity in salary is unwarranted, and the Angels could have been better off signing Shoemaker and reinvesting the saved $16.5 million in a top of the rotation candidate, or pursued another rotation candidate who is also on the open market.

The Blue Jays have an absolute steal in Shoemaker for one year, and he will likely compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. At $3.5 million, there is very little risk in signing Shoemaker because even if he does not pan out, it has not handicapped the Blue Jays’ ability to pursue other starters like the combined $20 million the Angels committed to Harvey and Cahill. In terms of economy, this is also one of the best deals so far because there is so little money. In the era of big contracts, it is uncommon for small contracts to be taken seriously, but Shoemaker has proven that he can put it together, and if he is healthy, the Blue Jays can prove that to all the doubters.

2 thoughts on “Matt Shoemaker is a Great Signing for Toronto…Here’s Why

  1. I’ve been doing some research on breakout/sleeper candidates for next year. Shoemaker is definitely up there. Only threw 31 innings last year, but stuff looked good. He’s a low walk guy when he’s healthy and that’s always helpful. Like you said, health is the big question. But I love when teams take a shot on guys for a year. Worst case you let him go at the end of the year, otherwise you have help at the back end of the rotation or at least a trade chip.

    Like

    1. CF Muir. I’m glad you liked the article. Shoemaker has always been a guy I’ve had a soft spot for, despite the fact that he played for a rival. Like you said, he has the stuff. I really hope he has a solid year and can make some better money next year as a free agent.

      Liked by 1 person

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