Dylan Bundy‘s major league debut in September ended up being a minor footnote in the 2012 season. In any of the last 15 seasons it would have probably been “the story” (along with the debut of Manny Machado), however a trip to the MLB postseason will do that for you! I said at the time that I didn’t feel the organization was making the right move in bringing Bundy up. There’s no question that Bundy is a major league talent, and in fact one might even be able to argue that statistically he was ready to come up. However was it the right move in retrospect?
I’m thinking of one thing; his major league clock. That clock has now started, which will make him eligible for arbitration earlier. Had the Orioles waited until next May to bring Bundy up to “the show,” that would have been deferred a year. A lot of people with whom I speak feel that’s somewhat petty. Maybe it is for all I know. However I feel that in this age of free agency and so forth, it behooves teams to keep that in mind. And it’s not just the Orioles in this case; the same argument could be made for the Washington Nationals with Bryce Harper or even the Anaheim Angels (in 2011 that is) with Mike Trout.
The difference with the two above-mentioned players is that they turned into superstars. However that doesn’t address the issue of being arbitration-eligible. How those arbitration hearings go with each franchise is something that won’t be addressed for a few years, however I would also point out Bundy’s stats with the Orioles. Bundy’s 2012/career line: 1.2 IP (in relief over two games), 1 H, 1 BB. First off, those aren’t poor stats. Secondly, Bundy looked impressive in his two appearances overall. However I would ask if it was worth bringing Bundy up to pitch 1.2 innings over two games in relief?
In fairness, I don’t believe that the Orioles’ plan was to bring Bundy up when they did. I believe that he was probably a contingency plan for the Orioles if they absolutely needed another bullpen arm. Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened; the Orioles played an 18-inning game on September 18th at Seattle which bled their bullpen dry. They called Bundy up on the 19th to act as an emergency reliever, and he made his big league debut on September 23rd in Boston. The ironic thing is that had the Orioles not been in contention at the time they probably wouldn’t have called Bundy up. Odds are they would have hoped their starter could go deep into the next night’s game and then spent another reliever if need be. Funny how things can work out when you’re in contention!
Again, I don’t feel that the plan was to bring Bundy to the big leagues this year. However now it really behooves Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette to start Bundy in the major leagues in 2013. For all we know that was the plan to begin with, however as I said the whole arbitration thing is something that teams need to concern themselves with these days. That ultimately means that the player can hit the open market a year earlier, which puts the onus back on the Orioles to lock up their players early. Luckily, the O’s proved that they were willing to ante up in signing the likes of Adam Jones this year.