When the Cincinnati Reds signed Scott Feldman back in February, it seemed a predictable, ho-hum move for a team looking for some stability on their pitching staff. For a shade over $2 million bucks, he'd be cast as the veteran lump-taker in a rotation full of hard throwing youngsters, the salt and pepper stubble surrounded by first iteration chin beards.
He was never signed to anchor the pitching staff, to be Opening Day Starter™ Scott Feldman. If anything, he was merely picked up to fill the void left by the trade of Dan Straily to the Miami Marlins, which happened just before Feldman was signed. In fact, I remarked at the time that the similarities between what Feldman had always been and projected to be and what Straily projected to be going forward - not who he was in a breakout 2016 - might well have prompted the Reds to deal Straily in the first place, since Feldman at the time was sitting on the sidelines without a team.
What's funny, though, is that it's hard to imagine what Feldman has given the Reds in 2017 looking any more like what Straily gave them in 2016, at least through the first six weeks of the season.
|Scott Feldman (2017)||3.76||116||1.23||7.5||3.5||7.1|
|Dan Straily (2016)||3.76||113||1.19||7.2||3.4||7.6|
That chart took an incredibly long time to finish, mind you, since I had to check, double check, and quintuple check each column twice to make sure I'd pulled the numbers from the right player's page. That's some spot-on duality right there.
Of course, Feldman has another 150 or so innings of consistency to reach the quantity Straily gave the Reds last year. But in a way quite similar to how Straily was unexpectedly thrust into the anchor role in the 2016 rotation because of injuries and ineffectiveness around him, Feldman has already seemed to flourish in that exact role to date, his complete game shutout of the San Francisco Giants coming sandwiched by the optioning of fellow starters Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, and Rookie Davis around him. (Think of it as an odd Big Mac sandwich maybe, with just one patty and still the three buns. Or just don't think about it at all anymore and move on to the next paragraph.)
The Reds didn't ask Feldman to pick up the slack for the three additional years of team control that Straily would've been able to provide for them - that much rides on the shoulders of Luis Castillo and Austin Brice. So far, what Castillo alone has done with his 100 mph fastball at AA Pensacola should allay any fears of how this trade will shake out beyond what Feldman gives in 2017.
All Feldman needed to do was give the Reds in 2017 something akin to what they'd have hoped to get from Straily this year, which was chewed up innings from a guile-fused slowball and a half-rested bullpen once every five days. Instead, they're getting a replica season from a guy who was valuable enough three months ago to net the likes of Castillo, Brice, and Isaiah White after a 4.3 bWAR year.
Straily, by the way, owns a 102 ERA+ and a FIP 0.38 higher than Feldman's in 2017, though that's not exactly the specified topic here.
If you're the type to keep a ledger of front office moves to know precisely when to start printing your FIRE ___ bumper stickers, it may be almost time to chalk up the signing of Feldman as a positive entry already, without even getting into a $ per free agent WAR statistical analysis. And if the signing of Feldman becomes a net positive, that adds that much more weight to the idea that the Straily deal with Miami was one of the more shrewd moves we've seen from a Cincinnati front office in the last few years.