Relief pitcher Nick Hagadone signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday; 15 days after the Cleveland Indians opted not to enter arbitration with him. The deal Hagadone signed with the Brewers was a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training--the exact same contract the Tribe offered him, according to Paul Hoynes.
Hagadone was officially DFA’d on December 2 by the Indians when they acquired Collin Cowgill from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for cash, and became a free shortly after when the Indians did not tender him a contract for arbitration. Had the Indians went through arbitration with Hagadone, MLB Trade Rumors estimated that he would have been awarded $600k in court. Alternatively, the Indians could non-tender Hagadone (who is coming off a shoulder injury) and sign him as a minor league free agent to save some money. It appears that is what the Indians were attempting to do before Hagadone chose to head to Milwaukee instead.
The history between Cleveland and Hagadone is rocky, at least from an outsider’s perspective. The lefty-specialist never took off the way the Indians had hoped in his bullpen role, sporting a cumulative 4.72 ERA, a 4.11 FIP, and a 24.1 percent strikeout rate in 118.1 career innings. A mix of injuries and ineffectiveness has cut every one of his professional seasons short, and as a result, he has never pitched in more than 36 games in any given season.
In 2012, his worst season as a starter in the Majors (6.39 ERA, 4.87 FIP, 12.9 K%), Hagadone’s season ended when he punched a wall and injured his throwing hand following a poor outing against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Indians placed him on the disqualified list following the incident, meaning they were not on the hook for his salary while he recovered (although he later filed a grievance and was awarded his service time and payments missed).
The Indians have made a series of moves throughout the offseason to ensure that losing Hagadone would not be a major blow. They traded for Kirby Yates back in November, and just last week they signed Joe Thatcher to a minor league contract with a non-roster invite to Spring Training--likely the same deal they were trying to give Hagadone.
Hagadone may not have panned out in Cleveland, but I still wish him the best in Milwaukee or wherever he heads to next. Most of all, I hope he can stay healthy and compete in the National League.