Saturday, December 7, 2013

Astros sign Chad Qualls

Yep. That Chad Qualls.

The Astros signed Chad Qualls - yes, that Chad Qualls - to a two-year deal today worth $6m plus incentives. Qualls - yes, that Chad Qualls - was the Astros' 2nd Round pick (67th overall) in the 2000 draft and has the highest WAR of any player drafted in the 2nd Round. Chad Qualls - yes, that Chad Qualls - played with Houston from 2004-2007, and in 284IP allowed 267H/107ER, 218K:84BB with six saves. In December 2007 Qualls - yes, that Chad Qualls - was traded with Chris Burke to Arizona for Jose Valverde, and has been a part of the Diamondbacks, Padres, Phillies, Yankees, and Marlins organizations.

For Miami in 2013, Qualls - yes, that Chad Qualls - threw 62IP (66 games), allowing 57H/18ER, 49K:19BB with a career-best 2.61 ERA/1.22 WHIP with a 1.8 WAR (via Baseball-Reference; FanGraphs gave him a 0.5 WAR). But to put that in perspective, only Jose Veras had a higher WAR (FanGraphs) as a reliever than Qualls in 2013, and no reliever had a higher B-R version of WAR than Qualls - yes, that Chad Qualls - in 2013.

Qualls - yes, that Chad Qualls - stranded 82.9% of runners and induced a career-high 63.3% groundball rate. His 2.61 ERA slightly outperformed his FIP (3.32) and xFIP (3.25), but both of those would have been perfectly acceptable for the Astros in 2013.

He will be 36 next August, so the Astros are paying for his 36- and 37-year old seasons. Does he provide an upgrade for the bullpen? If you have to ask yourself that question, then clearly you have erased 2013 from your mind and I would like to know your method.