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Diamondbacks Free-agent Discussion, #2: Randall Delgado

Another veteran arm will be hitting the market this winter. Though he’s not THAT old.

Arizona Diamondbacks Photo Day Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It’s easy to forget, considering how long he has been around the D-backs, but Randall Delgado is still only aged 28. He’s a child of the nineties and about four months older than, say, Andrew Chafin. But Randall made his MLB debut back in 2011. At that time, he was a starter for the Atlanta Braves, coming to the D-backs in January 2013, as part of the Justin Upton trade. He has completed six seasons with Arizona since. Initially, Delgado was a starter, but moved to the bullpen in 2014, and has bounced back and forth since. He has mostly been a long relieve, but when the team needs a spot-starter, his name has usually been in the mix.

From 2013 through the All-Star break last year, Delgado had been generally reliable, always giving the team at least 60 innings of work. But a series of injuries - first a strained elbow flexor, then a right oblique, and rehab setbacks - caused him to miss almost an entire year. Delgado made his first appearance for Arizona on July 7, and although he got the win in relief, he was struggling. His velocity this year was markedly lower, averaging only 91.8 mph, compared to 94.2 the previous season. Over the seven innings he worked in July, Randall had more walks (3) than strikeouts (2), and he was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks on July 26, apparently ending his tenure.

However, three weeks later, in a surprise move Delgado was re-signed by Arizona to a minor-league contract. He appeared four more times once rosters expanded in September, and at least finished the season on a high note. Randall struck out three of the four batters he faced in San Diego on September 28, getting five swinging strikes in sixteen pitches. [Counterpoint: Padres] Was that his final outing as a Diamondback? He now hits the free-agent market, having thrown 542.2 major-league innings with an ERA+ of exactly 100. He’s also one of five players to have earned both a complete-game shutout and a save for Arizona [Can you name the other four?]

Normally, a 28-year-old pitcher with a career ERA+ of 100 would have no problem finding employment, especially one who had an ERA+ of 131 as recently as 2017. But it’s clear there are concerns about Delgado, shown by the way he made it through the DFA process in August, without any other team claiming him. While it allowed Arizona to re-sign Randall, it is also an indication that those same concerns may limit his employment options for next season. He’ll need to prove his health, first and foremost, and a gain in velocity back to previous levels is likely also going to be required. Otherwise, another minor-league deal, with an invite to spring training, is likely all Delgado will be able to obtain.

Should Arizona look to sign him? The long-relief role seems to have been taken by T.J. McFarland, who had sixteen outings this year of two innings or more. He pitched very well in the role, allowing three earned runs over 43.1 innings, which may render Delgado surplus to requirements. However, McFarland is a left-hander, which may make him better suited for a broader role, especially with his Ziegler-like ability to generate groundballs [The only two pitchers with a GB/FB ratio above two this season, and 70+ IP, were Brad Ziegler and McFarland] If so, then there might still be room for Delgado. However, he’s not likely worth a guaranteed contract - unless we’re definitely getting the first half of 2017 version.

The players to have earned both a complete-game shutout and a save for Arizona are: Patrick Corbin, Randall Delgado, Josh Collmenter, Trevor Cahill and Brian Anderson