Diamondbacks Sign Mike Hampton

Diamondbacks Sign Mike Hampton

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced that they have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with left-handed pitcher Mike Hampton. That contract runs in stark contrast to the eight-year, $121 million deal Hampton signed after four consecutive seasons having pitched over 200 innings while winning over 60% of his decisions.

Mike Hampton, who has been assigned to Triple-A Reno, owns a 148-115 record and 4.07 ERA during his 15-year big league career.  He started at least 30 games in seven consecutive seasons from 1997-2003, posting a 98-67 record and 4.10 ERA over that span as his 226 starts ranked tied for third and his 1463.0 innings was seventh in the majors. Hampton also won five consecutive NL Silver Slugger Awards from 1997-2003 and is a career .246 hitter with 16 home runs and 79 RBI. In 2003, he became the first pitcher to win a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award in the same season.

After 2003, Hampton's career spiraled downhill.  His strikeout rate, which had been as high as 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings in his stellar 22-4 campaign in 1999, fell to 4.5 in 2004.  It was 3.5 in a dozen starts the following year before he underwent Tommy John surgery.

The southpaw subsequently missed the entire 2006-07 seasons and went 3-4 with a 4.85 ERA in 13 starts after coming off the disabled list mid-season in 2008, giving him just 25 total starts in a four-year stretch. Last season, he went 7-10 with a 5.30 ERA in 21 starts prior to having rotator cuff and labrum surgery that September.

Hampton was signed late Saturday after throwing a 60-pitch bullpen session for the D-backs at Chase Field on Wednesday.  He will turn 38 in September and is scheduled to start and pitch one inning at Triple-A Reno on Monday, as the D-backs intend to groom him as a reliever.  Hampton has not pitched out of the bullpen in a major league game since 1994.

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