MLB rumors: Tribe interested in relief pitcher Edward Mujica

Dilip Vishwanat

Could the Tribe be headed for a reunion with the pitcher they first signed back in 2001?

The Indians are said to be one of at least four teams interested in relief pitcher Edward Mujica (along with the Cubs, Orioles, and Phillies), who spent much of last season as closer for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mujica is a right-hander, and posted a 2.78 ERA (131 ERA+) in 64.2 innings in 2013. His strikeout rate was nothing special (6.40 per 9 innings), but he walked only 5 hitters all season, giving him an MLB-leading .70 walks per 9 innings. His career figure is obviously not as strong as that, but is quite good (1.4 BB per 9 IP). Despite so few walks, the lack of strikeouts and his allowing 1.25 HR per 9 innings combined to give Mujica a 3.71 FIP (a better predictor of one's following season than ERA). That's nothing special.

Mujica (who was originally signed as an international free agent by the Indians in 2001 and pitched 70 innings for the Tribe between 2006 and 2008) also collected 37 saves last season, which may give him an air of 'proven closer,' but he's more likely to be paid as a setup man, which is what he'd been prior to 2013. Still, setup men get paid pretty well these days, and most expect Mujica to land a deal in the same ballpark as Joe Smith, who signed with the Angels earlier this week for 3 years, $15.75 million.

I was happy the Indians weren't the team to hand Smith that contract, because I don't think they should be committing to a pitcher like Smith (good, not great) for three years. I also ranked Smith three spots ahead of Mujica on my list of the top free agent relievers, so I certainly don't want to see the Indians give Mujica that kind of contract.

I took a closer look at the Indians bullpen a few days ago, and while I think they could use another arm, I'd rather gamble on finding it in the minors than on a deal worth $15 million. There's nothing wrong with making phone calls and kicking tires, but I hope the Indians aren't the team that lands Mujica.

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