Minor league free agent Jeremy McBryde will be wearing a Halo in 2015. He was signed to a major league contract with the Angels on Friday. At age 28, after eight seasons in the minors, McBryde joined a 40-Man roster for the first time in his career.
Why would the Angels make such a big stab - guaranteeing McBryde the major league minimum salary of over a half-million dollars for 2015 - for a kid who has never set foot on a major league mound? In this action, Jerry Dipoto reveals his long game. The gamble of a roster spot and a major league minimum salary is peanuts in the ongoing quest for bullpen depth. Considering that free agent Jason Grilli is ten years older than McBryde and will cost at least $3 Million to sign, the gamble here is an intelligent one.
Add into this thinking more than just the money. McBryde pitched in the pitching-rich Padres organization for seven seasons and was converted to a reliever after four of them. The A's had him last year and tried him out as the fifth starter for the Sacramento RiverCats in April before hurling him back to the pen in a hurry. The Athletics had one of the deepest organizational bullpens in all of baseball. It is not a stretch to assert that had McBryde pitched any one of perhaps twenty organizations in baseball, he would have already carved a niche of some sort in a major league pen. Is this not the practice of finding underutilized competitive resource and hoarding it to be used to gain a small advantage ever the rest of the sport? I believe that is called Moneyball in some places.
Consider what Dipoto has done - A's GM Billy Beane and his scouts are great at spotting talent. They sign a talented player BUT they are so good at spotting talent that this particular player never gets the call. Dipoto got the A's to do all the work and he just swooped by with a little extra dough and the glamor a baseball lifer was waiting for. If luck is when preparedness meets opportunity, the Halos just got lucky!
McBryde has lots of potential beyond just assuming the Grilli role. His numbers against right handed batters are jaw-dropping:
McBryde was dominant vs RH batters in 2014 135 Batters faced, 46K, 3BB, .154/.178/.223 against #Angels— Eric Kay (@EKayAngels) November 8, 2014
Is he a ROOGY (Righty One-Out GuY) who can come in to sit down one tough slugger in the far side of the batter's box or is he a good late-innings guy? McBryde was converted into the closer for the AAA RiverCats, where A's AAA pitching coach Rick Rodriguez compared him to much-vaunted relief prospect Evan Scribner in an informative interview with the Athletics Farm Site:
McBryde has come a long way. Starting the year off, we really didn’t know where he was going to pitch. He kind of did a little bit of long relief, in the middle, some other stuff. And lately, he’s kind of been in a closing role with Scribner. And he’s excelled, he’s done very well, especially against right-handed hitters, and even against left-handed hitters. But he’s a guy who definitely can close a game just as well as (Evan) Scribner can
Which definitely puts McBryde into the conversation about closing for the Halos in the future. This is a conversation we will want to be having as Jerry Dipoto's cherry-picking seems to have yielded something that is potentially as sweet as they get. From the depths of other organizations, greatness may lie. It was time to scoop it up and Dipoto Riseth.