Gavin Floyd

Cleveland Indians create depth with Gavin Floyd signing

On the day the White Sox announced Jeff Samardzija, the Indians stole a little of that thunder away by grabbing up former Chicago starting pitcher Gavin Floyd. Signing a starting pitcher had been a top priority of the Indians in this off-season, despite the rotation being the team’s greatest strength in 2014. In addition, by adding Floyd the Indians have essentially cemented their starting rotation with four of the five starters officially announced. Relief pitcher Nick Maronde was designated for assignment in order to make room for Floyd on the 40 man roster.

Ed note: this post comes courtesy of Bloguin’s Cleveland Indians site, Burning River Baseball.

For those unfamiliar with the story of Gavin Floyd, his stats are listed here:

2004 21 PHI NL 2 0 3.49 6 28.1 25 11 1 16 24 4.04 1.447 7.6
2005 22 PHI NL 1 2 10.04 7 26.0 30 29 5 16 17 6.40 1.769 5.9
2006 23 PHI NL 4 3 7.29 11 54.1 70 44 14 32 34 7.18 1.877 5.6
2007 24 CHW AL 1 5 5.27 16 70.0 85 41 17 19 49 6.07 1.486 6.3
2008 25 CHW AL 17 8 3.84 33 206.1 190 88 30 70 145 4.77 1.260 6.3
2009 26 CHW AL 11 11 4.06 30 193.0 178 87 21 59 163 3.77 1.228 7.6
2010 27 CHW AL 10 13 4.08 31 187.1 199 85 14 58 151 3.46 1.372 7.3
2011 28 CHW AL 12 13 4.37 31 193.2 180 94 22 45 151 3.81 1.162 7.0
2012 29 CHW AL 12 11 4.29 29 168.0 166 80 22 63 144 4.46 1.363 7.7
2013 30 CHW AL 0 4 5.18 5 24.1 27 14 4 12 25 4.61 1.603 9.2
2014 31 ATL NL 2 2 2.65 9 54.1 55 16 6 13 45 3.79 1.252 7.5
11 Yrs 72 72 4.40 208 1,205.2 1,205 589 156 403 948 4.36 1.334 7.1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/16/2014.

Floyd was originally a first round draft pick of the Phillies back in 2001 (the fourth overall) and was part of the Freddy Garcia trade that brought the veteran pitcher from Chicago to Philadelphia. For the next six seasons, Floyd was a steady force in the White Sox rotation, making at least 30 starts in each season from 2008 through 2011 with an ERA almost always near 4.00. At the age of 29 in 2013, Floyd hurt his elbow after just five starts and ultimately had Tommy John surgery, ending his season. After a successful (and relatively quick) rehab, Floyd was signed by the Braves and got off to the best start of his career only to be derailed by another injury. While throwing a pitch, Floyd broke his elbow this time, ending his year at 54.1 innings with a 2.65 ERA.

Now, Floyd has rehabbed again and has been given a clean bill of health by the Indians doctors. While still an injury risk, the Indians are taking the chance that his start to 2014 was not a fluke with a one year deal worth a guaranteed $4M with up to two million in incentives. This is almost identical to the deal he received from the Braves and honestly, $4M for 0.7 WAR (which he had in 2015) is far below market value considering Brandon McCarthy was just given a four year, $48M deal after a season with a 1.6 WAR and a career average of 1.1 wins above replacement. Given this, Floyd’s deal could end up being an incredible steal for the Indians if he were to actually pitch an entire season at anywhere near a 3.00 ERA. Even with the incentives bringing the deal to $6M, this will be one of the cheapest free agent signings this off-season for a pitcher with Major League talent.

For the Indians, there are other ramifications as well. First, the starting rotation has been named as Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Gavin Floyd, Trevor Bauer and one from the group of Danny Salazar, T.J. House, Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin. Important to note are the facts that Floyd’s contract is guaranteed, so he is ensured a spot and that only House and Salazar, of the pitchers listed above, have minor league options remaining. This means that almost certainly House will begin the season in AAA and either McAllister or Tomlin will be used in the bullpen. The fifth starter should and will likely be Salazar based on current and future talent.

This situation opens up another place for the Indians to trade from. Bauer, Carrasco, McAllister, Tomlin and Salazar are all young (ish) pitchers who are under team control for at least two more seasons, but all have massive issues. Bauer and Carrasco have been listed as head cases, McAllister and Tomlin have issues with the long ball and are already low velocity pitchers and Salazar has command issues. Each of these pitchers have incredible potential and great risks to go along with it and it may be time for the Indians to make a gamble. Young, cheap, controllable pitchers are a valuable asset and if the Indians don’t believe in these pitchers enough to keep them in the rotation (like House, McAllister and Tomlin), it may be time to move them to a team that values them more. While they may not return immediate Major League talent in return, the minor league system is weak at first and catcher and is almost completely devoid of power, so there are still places they could improve. They could also be used as part of a bundle to make a Nick Swisher or David Murphy deal more attractive. One thing is for sure, however, that this conversation was made possible by the signing of Gavin Floyd.

While not the same as bringing in Max Scherzer, the Indians have thrown their lot in with Floyd in hopes he can be a dependable veteran presence in the rotation. While he is an unknown, he is less of an unknown than Bauer, Carrasco or House who’s output looks impossible to predict going into 2015. As far as Floyd’s output, that may be difficult to predict as well, but based on his career numbers, an ERA of near 3.50 while averaging at least six innings per start seems to be obtainable. If he can avoid further injury, Floyd could easily be the Indians number three starter for the duration of the 2015 season.

One final bonus with the signing is that it is a one year deal. While this means that Floyd can leave to break the bank if he has a great year (as Scott Kazmir did after the 2013 season), it also gives the Indians a lot of freedom. If, in June, Floyd isn’t working out, they can release him and only lose a couple million dollars instead of the haul they would lose for releasing someone like Nick Swisher. If he is pitching well, but so is the rest of the rotation while House is dominating in AAA, he could be traded to another contender for a different piece. If he is great and a necessary part of the team, he could even be offered a qualifying offer at the end of the season, likely leading to another first round draft pick in 2016. No, Floyd is not a superstar, but with a team friendly, low risk deal, he is the best the Indians could hope for.

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of and has been since its inception in 2011. He also writes for The Outside Corner and the Comeback and hosts the Tribe Time Now podcast. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians. Follow on twitter @BurningRiverBB