For teams looking to keep their payroll tight yet somehow improve their starting pitching situation, Justin Masterson could end up being a good solution, with the Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins looking into the option of signing him.
Masterson, 31, hasn’t played in the majors since 2015. He spent last season playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates triple-A team, posting an unimpressive 4.97 ERA through 54.1 innings, coming off another injury, something of a callsign of his during his career. He had an alarming 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings compared to 4.31 walks, which means he’s not just struggling producing speed, he’s not in complete control of his pitches, or wasn’t last season.
Now Masterson claims he’s healthy now, rid of his shoulder and knee injuries that have derailed his career. An All-Star in 2013 with the Cleveland Indians, Masterson struggled in the seasons that followed, moving from the Indians to the St. Louis Cardinals and then the Boston Red Sox, the last team he played for in 2015. In 2014-2015 he posted a 5.79 ERA through 188 innings, with a 1.622 WHIP and only 1.79 SO/BB ratio.
What Masterson provides is experience and coming in cheap. He made $9.5 million in his final year with the Red Sox, but considering how things have gone from him since peaking in 2013, he has 0 leverage heading into negotiations, and probably is only looking for a chance to play. Whether or not he can be a fifth or sixth starter on a team remains to be seen. It won’t be surprising to see him sign a minor league deal with someone, having the option of getting bounced up, including some incentives. Masterson could still have something to give, even on a team aiming to make the postseason, but his recent past suggests it might be too late for him to become a legitimate pitcher in the majors again.