David Aardsma will Compete for Bullpen Spot
The Indians continued to strengthen their bullpen on Thursday by signing free agent reliever, David Aardsma. The two sides agreed on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training where he will compete with a handful of other non-roster invitees for a spot in the Indians bullpen. It’s not a big impact move, but definitely fits in the low risk high reward territory the Indians tend to frequent in free agency.
At 32 years old, Aardsma is definitely on the back-end of his career. After missing all of 2011 and making only one appearance in 2012 due to injuries, Aardsma caught on in 2013 with the Mets. In 43 appearances as a late inning reliever, he went 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA. It was by no means a dominant year, but it was encouraging to see Aardsma bounce back to a respectable level after missing so much time.
What makes the signing of David Aardsma particularly interesting is his track record as a closer. For two straight seasons, 2009 and 2010, Aardsma served as the closer for the Seattle Mariners. In those two seasons, he piled up 69 saves and a 2.90 ERA. While John Axford figures to start off as the lead candidate for closer, a solid spring from Aardsma could provide a significant challenge. If he does make the big league roster out of spring training, and even if he doesn’t, Aardsma could prove to be valuable insurance for Axford.
For his career, David Aardsma hasn’t been dominant, but he has been a reliable pitcher overall. In eight seasons, he can boast a 4.23 ERA and a strikeout per inning pitched. Whether or not he has enough left in the tank at the age of 32-years-old to make a significant impact for the Indians in 2014 remains to be seen. However, you can’t blame the Indians for taking a chance with a low risk contract.