Potential Player of Interest: Guillermo Mota | The Process Report

Potential Player of Interest: Guillermo Mota

This winter’s free-agent market features a bevy of talented right-handed relievers, making options like Guillermo Mota easier to overlook. Mota is 39 years old and fresh from a season in which he posted a 5.23 ERA and missed 100 games for failing a second performance-enhancing drug test; in short: he’s the perfect Rays target—so much so that the Rays reportedly pursued Mota before. Will the Rays take the opportunity to rekindle their interest, and should they?

Mota still features good stuff. He works off a low-90s sinker that tickles the mid-90s on occasion. Unfortunately, locating the pitch is a chore for Mota. He seems to have runs where he can’t locate the pitch for a strike, or where he leaves the ball up in the zone too often for comfort. When Mota does get ahead in counts, he’s able to use a pair of mid-80s pitches to kill at-bats: an Eric Gagne-taught circle-changeup against lefties, a slider against righties.

Reading the last paragraph may conjure images of Fernando Rodney. Mota doesn’t have Rodney’s raw stuff, nor his arm strength, but the two could share a common solution; or at least part of one. As the image below shows, Mota stands on the third base side of the rubber, whereabouts Rodney stood until the Rays moved him to the first base side. That was not the only change the Rays made to Rodney’s game, and probably was not the most important, but there are benefits to moving over. For Mota, or any sinkerballer that struggles with arm-side command, a shift on the rubber would mean taking better advantage of the pitch’s run.

I’m just speculating here, but I do wonder if the Rays intended to tweak Mota in the way they tweaked Rodney. It’s not that simple, of course. The player and team have to be willing to go through with the adjustments, otherwise it won’t work. Even if both sides are all-in, these things don’t always work. Mota might improve on his recent pedestrian numbers (a 2.32 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 4.18 ERA since 2010), or he might collapse. It’s hard to say.

In the end, it comes down to the market. There should be plenty of options available to the Rays that don’t carry Mota’s skeletons. For all I know, Mota might not want to pitch on the east coast, and would rather retire than move from the San Francisco area. Regardless, success stories such as the ones belonging to Rodney, Kyle Farnsworth, and Joel Peralta, amongst others, should remind us all to keep an open mind this offseason when it comes to veteran relievers like Mota.

One Comment

  1. It’s certainly worth looking into. However, I wonder how much bullpen help the Rays will actually be looking for. They might get away with adding just one or two names (Cory Wade, please) because Leuke, Gomes, De La Rosa. and Ramos could all be viable options in 2013. Maybe Mota and Wade would be enough?

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