Time was up for former Chicago White Sox starter Gavin Floyd. During this past offseason, the team had a decision to make: cut ties with Floyd or pick up his option that hovered around $9 million.
After a year cut short by an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, the Sox gave Floyd his walking papers. A once promising starter from 2008-12, Floyd’s recent performance did not live up to the money he was being paid.
For a five year stretch, one could pencil Floyd down for 10 to 12 wins per year with an ERA between 4.00-4.30. The Sox knew what they were getting from him year in and year out. As the pitching staff was constantly being altered, the 31-year-old was a stable force in the middle of the rotation.
Floyd ended his tenure with the White Sox with a record of 63-65 and an ERA of 4.22. His numbers scream “average” pitcher. That was all the Sox needed Floyd to continue to be.
Entering into the 2013 season, the Sox brought back both Floyd and Jake Peavy. With John Danks expected to be healthy, and the emergence of Chris Sale as an ace, all Floyd needed to do was continue to rack up double digit wins and stay healthy. Without a history of arm problems, both appeared to be achievable goals.
After early struggles resulted in a 0-4 record and an ERA of 5.18, Floyd was shut down for the season due to the injury he sustained. Discussions took place throughout the year over whether the Sox would re-sign the righty after his current contract was over at the end of the year. The team went in another direction, turning to a whole host of guys with less experience, but more upside than Floyd.
One and a half months into the season, the White Sox starting rotation continues to be a question mark. Three out of the five guys who made up the starting rotation on Opening Day are not with the big club at the moment. Two games into his comeback season, Floyd has impressed striking out 13 in 13 1/3 innings while allowing four runs.
It is easy for one to speculate if having a healthy Floyd at a much cheaper price tag (the Atlanta Braves gave him a $4 million deal) would have been a better route to take. Would Floyd have come back and been a stable force in the rotation just like the old days?
Even if Floyd returns to form this season, the Sox should not second guess their decision. Their goal for 2014 was to kick start their rebuilding movement. Having Floyd eat up innings instead of giving a guy like Erik Johnson or Andre Rienzo an opportunity would not have followed Hahn’s plan. While Floyd would have been an upgrade over Felipe Paulino or 29-year-old Scott Carroll, saving close to $3 million by having them instead could be beneficial in the long run.
Floyd and Paulino were in similar situations entering 2014. Both pitchers were coming off Tommy John surgery and needed to prove to people that they regained their form. Even if Floyd’s numbers are better than Paulino in 2014, general manager Rick Hahn should not lose sleep for letting the starter walk away.
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