With the likes of Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields on the free-agent market last offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers passed on each and instead signed Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy to address their starting pitching need.
McCarthy’s four-year, $48 million contract remains the largest doled out by the Dodgers under team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. Kenta Maeda’s eight-year, $25 million deal can eclipse that, should the Japanese right-hander trigger a slew of incentives.
McCarthy managed to make just four starts last season before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery.
While the 32 year old recently began throwing, the lengthy recovery is one McCarthy is ready to put behind him. “It’s coming along slowly, but it’s been resting nicely,” he said at Dodgers FanFest on Saturday.
“So, everything has been very encouraging in that front. I’m mentally bored, ready to kind of do more, but it’s been good.”
Although McCarthy has thrown off a mound — he estimated four or five times — it’s not yet under normal conditions as the catcher has remained standing and McCarthy has thrown at a “controlled speed.” Nonetheless, some benefit is being gained.
“You’re still throwing at a controlled speed, but you are getting your work in,” McCarthy said. “You are starting to get that feel and progressing your arm and working off the mound with a little more intensity, so it’s just a slow buildup.
“Your arm will only let you do so much, so mentally I try to not to gear up so much that everyday is do or die. It’s just do the work that needs to be done today and then get stronger in the weight room.”
McCarthy has progressed without any setbacks and anticipates he’ll begin what resembles “regular mound work” within the next two weeks and increase the intensity of his workouts throughout Spring Training.
He potentially could face live hitters at the end of camp if he doesn’t have any setbacks between now and then. In the end, McCarthy hopes to return near the 14-month mark from the date of his surgery.
“I would like to be back before the All-Star break,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to make a start or two before the All-Star break. If it doesn’t happen that’s fine, I’m mentally prepared for that. I want to use that as our foundation of, ‘This is where I need to get to.’”
McCarthy is also aware of the stage he’s at in his career, his loyalty, and the influence it has on a return to the mound. “I’ve got two and a half years left here. We’re not playing for the long haul, he said.”
“I’m beholden to the Dodgers right now and that’s it. If I don’t play again after the Dodgers because I came back too soon, then it was completely worth it. That’s been my thinking going into this, ‘Let’s get back as soon as we can now, safely, and not sit around and wait for months afterwards and play it safe the way a younger guy would.’”