The Royals announced earlier this afternoon that they had signed former Twins lefty Jose Mijares to a one year deal worth $925K. Mijares would have been a first time arbitration eligible for 2012, so the Royals control his rights through 2014. Kansas City will look to Mijares to be the LOOGY for the 2012 bullpen. Entering the off season the Royals were clearly in search of a pitcher to fill this role after watching Tim Collins struggle with control throughout 2011.
The Mijares signing has came with much praise from Royals fans in the twitterverse. He boasts a career 3.16 ERA and through 2010 posted a 7.6 K/9 to a 2.8 BB/9. Also for Twins lefties with 150+ innings Mijares ranks fourth all time in ERA. But all is not necessarily well with Mijares.
It would be unfair to ignore Mijares' 2011 season. He posted a 4.59 ERA, a 4.88 FIP, a 5.80 xFIP, as many walks as strikeouts and a fWAR of -0.3. Make no mistake, these are terrible numbers and because of them I'm hesitant to proclaim Mijares as the late inning lefty.
Interestingly enough part of Mijares problem in 2011 was rumored to be a weight issue. Dayton Moore has already stated that Mijares weight is down and he has looked great in the Venezuelan Winter League where he has posted a 1.29 ERA with 7 Ks and no walks in 8 innings pitched. Dayton Moore also allegedly told ESPN analyst and former GM Jim Bowden that he had saw Mijares a lot last season and the fastball continued to sit between 92-95 mph.
I find this last piece of information a bit interesting considering Fangraphs had Miajres average 2011 fastball velocity at 89.8 mph, a far cry from 92-95. Of course I'm not suggesting that Dayton Moore and his staff don't know how to use a radar gun, because I'm sure this is a talent that the Royals front office is proficient at. But what is also strange is that even prior to 2011, the highest average velocity that Mijares had ever posted was 91.9 mph.
Mijares appears to be a good addition to the bullpen, on the condition that he truly does have his weight down and can return to pre-2011 form. The Royals wanted to add a true weapon against lefties and even including 2011 Mijares has owned lefties to a line of .212/.276/.331. You can always use another bullpen arm and Mijares brings something to the table that the Royals didn't have in 2011. I endorse the move, but considering the cost would've been more excited had the Royals signed George Sherril for a similar contract to the $1.1 million pact he signed with Seattle. Unfortunately, Sherril, having played in Seattle before, has a soft spot for the city and elected to return; what can you do?
With Mijares, a deep Royals bullpen just got deeper. At this point there will likely be multiple quality arms getting ticketed to Omaha for the simple fact that there won't be enough room in the Royals bullpen. There were rumors earlier in the off season that the Royals decided that given the high cost of free agent starters would just build a killer bullpen, at this point the pen definitely looks like it could be deadly in 2012.