According to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, the Indians are working to sign former Detroit RHP Jeremy Bonderman to a deal that would add a veteran arm to the Spring mix. Once a highly-regarded young arm (who made his MLB debut as a 20-year-old), Bonderman has lost the last few seasons to various injuries and has not been effective since the 2006 season. Since the beginning of 2007 season (and, to be fair, he’s been battling injuries for the last 3 years), he’s posted a 5.19 ERA (85 ERA+) over 427 IP in 78 games. His 2006 season (4.08 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) looks like a distant memory, although it is still stunning to realize that Bonderman was only 23 in 2006.
While the top 4 spots in the rotation look to be spoken for with Carmona, Masterson, Carrasco, and Talbot, Bonderman (if signed) would enter into the 5th starter “competition” with the likes of Gomez, Tomlin, Huff, and perhaps Reyes and even Laffey.
The Indians have had success in the past with veteran, incentive-laden deals for pitchers that were lightly regarded on the FA market (see Pavano, Hot Carl) and it remains to be seen if they can continue to catch lightning in a bottle if Bonderman is, in fact added and whether he can win that 5th starter spot and thrive.
With the current group of 5th starter candidates underwhelming and the layer beneath them (most notably Al White, but also Kluber and McAllister, among others) looking like they’ll need some time in AAA (like Gomez and Tomlin may as well), Bonderman would look to have a leg up and perhaps offers the Indians an arm to eat innings and buy time until some longer-term answers arrive from the farm.
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