James McDonald Elects Free Agency

James McDonald
James McDonald has elected free agency. Photo by Mark Olson.

According to the MLB.com transactions page (h/t to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish), James McDonald has elected free agency after being outrighted to Indianapolis. The Pirates designated him for assignment last week, and he cleared waivers in the process. He’s now eligible to sign with any team for the remainder of the season.

It was about 14 months ago that McDonald started his downward trend that led to this move. He had a 2.37 ERA heading into the All-Star break. Then on July 13th he gave up five runs, four earned, in 4.2 innings. That started a second half slide where he put up a 7.52 ERA in 61 innings of work.

McDonald didn’t start well this season. He gave up one run in seven innings in his first start of the year, which came against the Cubs. From there he struggled, ending up with a 5.76 ERA in 29.2 innings in April. His velocity was also down, raising concerns of an injury. He eventually went on the disabled list. A few weeks ago McDonald told me that he originally thought he had dead arm, and then went on the DL after having problems staying loose between innings.

McDonald would be an interesting guy for any team to pick up over the off-season on a minor league deal. He has been horrible since July 2012, but he looked good in the 2010-2011 seasons, and looked great in the first half of 2012. He’d be worth a flier on a minor league deal, hoping he could return to his previous performance.

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I wish JMac all the best. He was a building block for the organization. Injuries happen, and rehab can be difficult. He needs to sign on with a team that has an established starter with a killer change, sort of like AJ the Johnny Appleseed of the knuckle curve. In his case, the two biggest factors in where he should go are probably finding a team with the right guy and with an opportunity for him to pitch as a 5th starter or swing guy while he rebuilds his confidence.

Brian Bernard

A team that could get him to develop, trust, and use that nasty nasty change-up could see a nice rebound from J-Mac. Time simply ran out on him here as the prospects like Cole started to arrive and roster spots for development simply aren’t available anymore.

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