Hey, the wounds are still fresh, so it seems like a fine time to do some evaluating. This is the Exit Music (For A Player) series. Check out other Exit Music (For A Player) posts here.
Acquired: Signed as free agent, December 2013.
Age: 32. Feldman will be 33 in February.
Contract Status: 3rd and final year of a $30m contract in which Feldman will make $8m.
Absolutely massive at 6'7", Feldman was actually drafted by the Astros in the 41st Round of the 2002 draft, but elected to return to the College of San Mateo for another season. Selected by the Rangers in the 30th Round of the 2003 draft, 2016 will be Feldman's 12th season in the Majors, though he didn't become a full-time Major Leaguer until 2008. Feldman was an "every other year" type of pitcher. He posted a 5.29 ERA in 2008, a 4.08 ERA in 2009. Then a 5.48 ERA in 2010, and a 3.94 ERA in 2011. The Rangers had him starting some, and relieving other times, which may have led to some discomfort, and a mutual parting of ways following the 2012 season, after an eight-year stint in which Feldman posted a 4.81 ERA/1.42 WHIP.
At the end of 2012, Feldman signed a one-year deal with the Cubs. In 15 starts, Feldman had a 3.46 ERA/1.14 WHIP for the Cubs and was traded on July 2, 2013 (with the Cubs 35-46, 15.5 GB) with Steve Clevenger to Baltimore for Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and cash. Let this be a referendum on Arrieta's career improvement.
On the day Baltimore traded for Feldman, the Orioles were 47-36, just 3.5 back in the division, and coming off their 2012 Wild Card season. They faded in August and September and finished 3rd in the AL East, so Scott Feldman hit free agency again. The Phillies thought they had Feldman signed for 2yrs/$15m, and then the Astros came in with a 3yr/$30m offer that was interesting in the right way: it was front-loaded. The Astros would pay Feldman $12m in 2014, $10m in 2015, and will pay him $8m in 2016.
The Astros signed a perfectly average pitcher in Scott Feldman, which was an upgrade over Erik Bedard and Jordan Lyles, and Feldman has had flashes of above-averageness. Feldman was 8-12 in 2014 for the Astros, with a 3.74 ERA/1.30 WHIP. In the 2nd half of the 2014 season, Feldman was 4-9 with a 3.16 ERA, including an outing at Fenway Park on August 14 where he gave up 9H/7ER in 5.1IP.
Feldman was slotted in as the SP2 to open 2015 and he took it to Cleveland, throwing 6.2IP, 5H/1ER, 5K:0BB in a 2-0 loss. Next time out, he gave up 10H/7ER in 5IP in an 8-1 loss to Oakland, which proved to be a season-high in earned runs. But overall, Feldman was a pretty good pitcher. He averaged 6IP/start, and held opponents to three or fewer earned runs in 14 of his 18 starts. In seven of his 18 starts, the Astros were held to two runs or fewer.
The problem for Feldman in 2015 were the injuries. In May, he needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus, which paved the way for the promotion and subsequent excellence of Lance McCullers. Feldman was shut down in September with a sprained right shoulder, causing him to miss the postseason, like the bullpen (zing!). But otherwise, Feldman did exactly what he was supposed to do: pitch to contact and let the defense get outs. He's not going to blow a fastball by you, but he'll get you to pop up. He's been a solid addition to the Astros' increasingly-crowded rotation.
*Feldman's 2.89 BB/9 is the 50th-best ratio in baseball among active pitchers.
*Feldman's 13.3% HR/FB rate in 2015 was the 12th-highest in Astros' franchise history.
I mean, what can you say? Feldman is the elder statesman of the rotation and has a deep playoff run on his resume (Ramgers, 2011). He's in the final year of a three-year contract and will be coming off shoulder issues that should be healed up in time for Spring Training. Challengers? Feldman will either be in the SP5 spot or the long man in the bullpen, should guys like Velasquez and Appel step up in Spring Training.
Defending the Scott Feldman deal (February 2014)