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Scott Olsen: Nay Or Nay?

I'm just catching up with the news that the Pirates are interested in Nationals pitcher Scott Olsen:

"The Pirates are one of several teams that have expressed interest in Scott," agent Matt Sosnick said. "It's certainly a compelling opportunity."

That might be agent-speak for "we'll take anything," and with the way things have gone for Olsen the past couple of years, that might not be a terrible idea. Olsen's ERAs the past two years are 6.03 and 5.56, and he missed significant time in both seasons with shoulder problems.

Is there more to Olsen than that? Well, maybe. His xFIPs were significantly lower than his ERAs, at 4.91 and 4.39, respectively, and he's still only 26. But he isn't anywhere near the pitcher he was at the start of his career, when he threw his fastball a bit harder and more frequently, and racked up a lot more strikeouts. He also isn't a particularly nice person.

As someone pointed out in a comment thread recently, Olsen actually has quite a bit in common with Zach Duke (lefty in mid- to late-20s struggling to replicate early-career success while posting better peripheral numbers than ERAs), except Olsen also has a well-documented attitude problem. So if the report of the Pirates' interest is accurate, it probably comes down to a matter of cost - they hope to get Olsen for less than they would have paid Duke. Of course, there's still the problem of the Pirates' defense being unable to catch the numerous balls in play Olsen will allow, and the question of why the Bucs would rather not just have the young lefty who doesn't have shoulder problems or get in fights with his teammates or require the use of a taser. If Olsen's price is low enough, then I guess I can't complain much, but man, it would still be a pretty depressing signing.