As we clamored for the team to do something more this offseason, Dave Dombrowski heard you, dove into the free agent pool and came up with....Kolby Allard?
The Phillies signed lefty Kolby Allard to a one-year deal. It's worth $1 million with another potential $125k in incentives. He'll be rotation depth; he has a minor-league option remaining, which was a big factor in signing.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) January 23, 2024
Ok, I understand the whole thing about the minor league option being a big factor since they have a fondness for pitchers with them, but still, giving Allard a major leag—
To clarify: Allard's deal is a split contract, which guarantees him $375,000. He can earn $1 million in the majors plus another $125k in incentives. Phillies need the optionable depth and had money/space to do MLB deal.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) January 23, 2024
Now it makes some sense.
Those of you with long memories might remember Allard as a touted high schooler the Braves drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft. He moved rather quickly through the team’s system to debut in 2018 as a 21 year-old...that promptly got shellacked. He was used as trade bait in 2019 to help the Braves acquire Chris Martin from the Rangers, who let him get his feet wet a bit to finish out that season. While in Texas, he never really re-established himself along the pedigree lines he came with, being used as an up and down starter/reliever that they eventually sent back to Atlanta last offseason for Jake Odorizzi.
Last season in Atlanta, he pitched in only four games, starting three of them, throwing 12 1⁄3 innings where he allowed 16 hits, nine runs, four walks and striking out 13. It’s almost as nondescript a season that a pitcher can have.
Digging in a bit, there isn’t a whole lot to get excited with when looking at the peripherals surrounding his time on the mound. Baseball Savant’s percentile rankings are quite blue no matter what the year is you look at, which is a bit alarming. His repertoire is something the team must feel they can work with since he uses two pitches - curveball, cutter - outside of his four-seam fastball that they have had success tweaking to make different pitchers more effective.
When honing in on those two pitches, there are at least two things that are interesting. From 2022 to 2023, Allard was able to add almost six inches of drop to his curveball (61.8 in. to 67.1 in.), which in turn led to his almost quadrupling his usage of it in the major leagues 5.4% in 2022 to 23.6% in 2023). It’s an extremely small sample size of pitches, but if he were to have enough qualified pitches thrown, that amount of vertical movement would have put him sixth overall in the game at that very specific statistic. It’s mildly interesting.
Looking at his cutter, he’s been slowly adding a bit more horizontal break to the pitch, climbing from 2.4 inches in 2021 to 3.7 inches in 2022 to 4.5 inches last year. Last year’s number would have placed him near the top twenty pitchers in, again, this very specific statistic. It’s possible, with as obsessed this team can be with pitchers adding and refining a cutter to their arsenal, that they see something with what Allard has been doing that causes them to believe maybe they can do a bit more. It’s also mildly interesting.
Listen, this isn’t a huge signing. It’s adding depth to a position that they are actually quite thin at at the top of the minor league chain. It is nice to see that there are a few interesting things about Allard that help make this signing make more sense.