Brandon McCarthy used to be one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Even now, he’s only 27 years old.
He spent the 2010 season in the minor leagues and/or on the disabled list, so his salary demands aren’t high. But he has thrown very well in the Dominican Winter League: 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in four starts.
Combine those factors, and you have a buy-low frenzy for teams in need of rotation help.
McCarthy has been scouted heavily in recent weeks, with the Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Oakland A's and Detroit Tigers among the teams having interest, according to a major-league source.
When healthy, McCarthy was effective this season at Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Texas organization (4-2, 3.36 ERA). But a stress fracture in his right shoulder limited him to just 56 1/3 innings. That is the same injury that hampered his throwing arm in the past.
Clubs may view McCarthy as being similar to another recent Rangers discard: right-hander Rich Harden. With both pitchers, the output can be very good, but the quantity of innings is a major question.
One consideration in McCarthy’s favor: He isn’t scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2012 season, so the team that signs him this winter theoretically will have two years of control.
-Jon Paul Morosi