Octavio Dotel signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers this afternoon. That might not seem like big news, except that as soon as Dotel steps on the mound for the Tigers, they’ll be the 13th team he’s pitched for and that’s a Major League record. Dotel’s been efficient, too, as 2012 will be just his 14th year in the Majors.
It’s not just a novelty act, either. Dotel was a big part of the Cardinals 2012 World Series Championship run after arriving in St. Louis via a trade with Toronto in July. Used mostly as a righty-specialist in Tony La Russa’s revolving door bullpen, Dotel struck out 32 hitters and walked just five in 24 2/3 innings to go with his 3.28 ERA. In the playoffs, he played a huge role in neutralizing NL MVP Ryan Braun during the NLCS.
So how does one end up pitching for 13 different teams? Dotel has been traded a whopping six times: from the Mets to the Astros in 1999, from the Astros to the A’s in 2004, from the Royals to the Braves in 2007, from the Pirates to the Dodgers and then from the Dodgers to the Rockies in 2010, and from the Blue Jays to the Cardinals this past summer. His only World Series is the one he just won with the Cards, but nearly helped propel the Astros there in 2004 when he formed a big part of the trade that brought them Carlos Beltran.
Dotel’s really been in overdrive since 2010, pitching for six of the 13 teams on this list once you count the Tigers. Of the 12 teams he’s pitched for (the Tigers don’t count yet, of course), he’s only pitched more than 100 innings for two of them (the Astros and White Sox). He’s recorded just 66 saves for eight teams (Houston, Oakland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Toronto, the White Sox, and the Dodgers) and 36 wins for ten (he didn’t win a game for the Rockies, Braves, or Yankees, who he barely pitched 20 combined innings for).
Really, Dotel’s a bit of a unique case because he’s a very good right-handed reliever that isn’t seen as being good enough to close, so he very rarely gets more than a one-year deal and he’s always on the trade market. I wouldn’t feel too bad for him, though, because he actually seems exited to have broken the record and after this year, he’d banked more than $34 million over his itinerant career.