Earlier this morning the Royals designated Amir Garrett for assignment. This gives the Royals a week to work out a trade, release, or waive Garrett. This may be the perfect project for the Astros to take on to support their bullpen in 2023.
Garrett, 31, is a left-handed reliever who throws a 4-seam fastball, slider, and sinker. Over the past two seasons, Garrett has a 4.39 ERA and a 4.16 FIP. This is a unique identifier for me, as FIP is based on what a pitcher can control from strikeouts, walks, hit-by-pitches, and home runs. It doesn't consider balls hit into play. It’s also interesting to note that Garrett has only allowed 4 home runs through 2022-2023, all on sliders. This means his fastball isn’t used in the hitter portions of at-bats, which is the right approach as he lacks fastball spin. The lack of fastball spins flattens the pitch, making it dangerous.
So, why are we supporting the Astros pursuing Garrett? Well, the obvious reason of supporting a pitching staff working through injuries to their starting rotation and exploring ways to fill innings. Second, we once again find ourselves without a left-handed reliever outside of Parker Mushinski and Matt Gage. Garrett provides a veteran presence with a potential $1.325 million cap hit. This also comes with a low trade value to be sent away to ensure you acquire him. The Astros have many mid-level prospects with a narrow passage to the big leagues, it would make sense to send them Joe Perez and Enoli Paredes to open the 40-man roster and acquire an upgrade to the bullpen.
So, how do we get the most out of Garrett if we get him? First, we focus on his strengths. The Astros’ pitching coaches have been great at leaning into their pitcher’s strengths and helping them home in on what makes them great. Garrett is effective against right-handed hitters compared to left-handed hitters. I’d love to see Garrett exclusively feature sliders against left-handed hitters and ditch the sinker against right-handed hitters. See the chart below to show xWOBA projections.
Garrett used to throw a change-up, specifically in 2017 and 2018. I believe this might be another path to enhance Garrett’s stuff while increasing pitch distribution across the board. I like how a change-up pairs with a slider against left-handed hitters. The other challenge with Garrett is his control, I believe Maldonado would be the wrong catcher to have behind the plate for him, Diaz profiles as a much better match for someone like Garrett.
This would be a low-risk/high-reward transaction for the Astros. It would give them a chance to bolster the bullpen and keep options open when pursuing a starting pitcher as this would not cost them their best resources. Potentially could come without a trade altogether, but the Astros do need to improve their 40-man roster situation.