Should the Phillies Go After Kyle Farnsworth?
Reliever Kyle Farnsworth was released by the New York Mets last night, as Wednesday was the deadline on his advance consent agreement, which allowed the Mets to pay him for 45 days as opposed to a full season. The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been nearly as bad as the Phillies’, but it has been in a similar state of flux. That the Mets released him is odd, considering he only would have been paid $1 million for the full season. The situation left Farnsworth with some anger towards the Mets:
Mets release Farnsworth. “Hopefully I’ll find a team where I can play against this one.”
— Danny Knobler (@DannyKnobler) May 15, 2014
Farnsworth would seem like a natural fit for the Phillies, given their need for reliable right-handed relievers plus his newfound hatred of the Mets. What’s wrong with a little motivation?
Farnsworth, however, is 38 and his strikeout rate has been on the decline since 2009, from 25 percent then to 14 percent this season. His walk rate has jumped around but has generally been in the eight to nine percent range lately. Similar to Jonathan Papelbon, Farnsworth once averaged 95 MPH on his fastball but now averages 92.
Left-handed hitters have crushed Farnsworth so far this season, posting a .991 OPS against him compared to the .616 of right-handers. The platoon split isn’t nearly as pronounced over his career, but it has been a characteristic of his in recent years aside from 2013. Additionally, Farnsworth’s ground ball rate, at 35 percent, is also at its lowest since 2008. He was a ground ball machine with the Rays in 2011-12 but perhaps the change has more to his playing in the spacious Citi Field.
To summarize: Farnsworth is old, struggles to miss bats with any real frequency, doesn’t have outstanding control, gets smashed by lefties, and gives up a bunch of fly balls. There are a lot of reasons not to expect Farnsworth to be a replacement-level reliever going forward, but that being said, the Phillies aren’t in the position to be choosy, and the right-hander’s relatively cheap price tag ($1 million or under) makes him worth a gamble.