Bill Brink of the Post Gazette reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in Justin Duchscherer, the former Oakland Athletics pitcher. The same rumors surfaced last year when the Pirates were reportedly interested in Duchscherer in early December, and had further talks with him a week after the original interest was discovered.
Duchscherer is a big injury risk, missing the entire 2009 season, and only making five starts in 2010. When healthy, he’s an excellent starting option, with a 2.60 ERA in 169.2 innings as a starter between 2008 and 2010, including a 2.89 ERA in his five starts last year. Duchscherer made all of his starts in the month of April, was placed on the disabled list on April 30th, and moved to the 60-day DL in June.
His injury history is mostly hip related. He was on the 60-day DL in 2007 with a right hip injury. In 2008 he only made 22 starts due to hip and biceps problems. He did miss the 2009 season after elbow surgery, but seemed fine in his return in 2010. His 2010 injury again was a hip issue, this time with his left hip.
Duchscherer signed a one year, $1.75 M contract with Oakland, which featured the following performance bonuses:
-$250 K each for 60, 90, 120 days on the active roster
-$150 K for 10 games started, $200 K for 15 GS, $250 K for 17 GS, $300 K for 20 GS, $450 K for 25 GS, $150 K each for 27, 28, 29, 30 GS
-$175 K each for 150, 160, 170 innings pitched. $200 K for 180, 190, 200 innings pitched.
-$100 K for comeback player of the year.
With a 32 start/200 inning season, Duchscherer would have earned $5.575 M, plus an additional $100 K if he was named the comback player of the year. His 2008 season would have earned him $3.2 M if he would have had those same incentives. I would think that the Pirates would have to give Duchscherer a $2 M base salary, plus incentives that could give him $5 M for his 2008 season, and $8 M for the max value of the contract.
Duchscherer wouldn’t be a bad one year deal for the Pirates, as he’d be low risk, and if he has a surprise year, he could be flipped at the deadline for a big return. The Boston Red Sox have also expressed interest in him. It’s unlikely that he would sign with an option year, as a one year deal allows him to rebuild his value and re-enter the market next year. It’s also unlikely that the Pirates could get him for the same deal Oakland or Boston could get, considering the Pirates’ record. On the other hand, the Pirates represent an opportunity to start that he might not have in Oakland or Boston, so they might not have to overpay with the potential incentives to get him.