Update (Jan. 3): Mulder is throwing around 87-92 mph with "good sink and change," according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. His fastball averaged around 88-89 mph in his prime, so it sounds like his velocity is back to where it used to be. Rosenthal also reports that the 36-year-old Mulder is "in great shape" and "remains a terrific athlete."
Mark Mulder's new contract might be even more "creative" than he imagined. The 36-year-old lefty will earn $1 million if he breaks camp with the Angels and up to $6 million if he's able to stay in the majors all season, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.
The deal doesn't guarantee Mulder a chance to return to the majors, but a new wrinkle in the league's collective bargaining agreement does guarantee him three automatic contract clauses as an Article XX(B) free agent.
- He must be told five days prior to Opening Day whether or not he will be on the team's 25-man roster
- If he doesn't request his release and starts the season in Triple-A, he will earn a $100,000 "retention bonus"
- If he remains in Triple-A through June 1st, he can opt out of his deal and sign elsewhere
Mulder hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008, and hasn't thrown a significant amount of innings since 2006. It could be a long road back to the majors for the nine-year veteran, but if he's able to channel some the success he had earlier in his career, he might just end up in a major league uniform again. From 2001 to 2005, Mulder went 88-40 for the Athletics and Cardinals with a 3.65 ERA.
The Angels have already added Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago through the Mark Trumbo trade, and are reportedly still interested in other free agent starters. However, if Mulder can stay healthy and pitch well enough to stay at the major league level all season, he will have more than earned the $6 million Los Angeles will pay him.