Friday, March 1, 2013

Reds sign former All-Star Mark Prior to minor league deal


On Friday, a slew of Reds minor leaguers reported to the Goodyear complex for the first time this spring. One of them included former All-Star Mark Prior.

According to MLBTR.com, the Reds have inked Prior to a minor league deal.

Prior, 32, was drafted second overall in the 2001 draft by the Chicago Cubs and was once considered one of the most promising young starting pitchers in Major League Baseball. However, a bout with shoulder problems has kept the California native from pitching in the majors since 2006.

“He called me and said asked for a chance,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I talked to Walt (Jocketty). (Prior) says he feels good. He feels like he has some unfinished business."

Baker, who managed Prior when he was with the Cubs, is often blamed for the right-hander's injury. Folks who do blame Baker cite the heavy workload Prior took on during the early part of his career. Prior's case has led to a trend across the league of teams imposing innings limit on young pitchers (i.e. Stephen Strasburg, Joba Chamberlain, Aroldis Chapman?).

Nevertheless, Prior continues to try and regain the form he once had that led to a third place finish in the Cy Young Award voting in 2003. He went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA during that year and earned his one and only trip to the All-Star Game. He owns a 42-29 lifetime record overall.

Prior spent the 2012 campaign pitching for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox where he appeared in 19 games, tossed 25 innings, and tallied a 3.96 ERA.

This signing is an example of a classic "low-risk, high-reward" deal for both the Reds and Prior. Neither have much to lose at this point by helping each other, but both stand to gain a lot if the right-hander somehow manages to experience a resurgence. Is it improbable? Yes. Is it impossible? No.

I like the move. What about you?

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