CHICAGO, November 4, 2013 — Free Agency kicks off at 12:01 a.m. EST on Tuesday, and having previously looked at some of the impact hitters on the market, this column will now look at some of the best pitchers on the market.
Matt Garza, TEX, SP - Garza spent time with both the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers last year. He posted a combined 155.1 innings pitched with an ERA+ of 106. Because he was traded mid-year, the Rangers do not have the ability to make a qualifying offer on Garza meaning he will have no compensation attached. Garza could return to Texas, but other suitors could include the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, and San Francisco Giants.
AJ Burnett, PIT, SP - The Pirates opted not to extend a qualifying offer to Burnett as he will be entering his age 37 season. Burnett reemerged in Pittsburgh and threw 191 innings last year with an ERA+ of 107. Burnett will be a shorter term option than Garza and it is likely safe to assume that this is one pitcher the Yankees will not pursue. Potential landing spots for Burnett include the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Angels.
Ubaldo Jimenez, CLE, SP - Jimenez is the first pitcher in the column that received a qualifying offer, meaning that Jimenez will have a week to decide whether or not he wants to accept a one year $14.1 million offer. If Jimenez declines, the team signing him will have to forfeit a high draft pick. Jimenez could return to Cleveland where he seemed to regain some of his form logging 182.2 innings with an ERA+ of 114. Jimenez could return to Cleveland, but could also find a home with the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.
Ricky Nolasco, LAD, SP - Nolasco spent time with both Florida and the Los Angeles Dodgers last year eating 199.1 innings with an ERA+ of 101. Nolasco seems to be this year’s Edwin Jackson, who received a four-year, $52 million dollar deal from the Cubs last year. After being skipped in the postseason and with the Dodgers’ starters returning from injury, it is unlikely he returns. Possible landing spots could include the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, and Houston Astros.
Hiroki Kuroda, NYY, SP - Kuroda was the Yankees best pitcher last year, logging 201.1 innings with an ERA+ of 122. Kuroda will be entering his age 39 season and last year seemed hesitant to sign anywhere except with the Yankees or Dodgers, although Boston had expressed interest. Expect more of the same this year, but given the Dodgers seeming abundance of arms it seems that Kuroda will likely return to the Yankees.
Masahiro Tanaka, Rakuten, SP - Tanaka will likely have the largest overall investment of any pitcher this year. The team that he signs with will have to first make an acceptable posting fee as Tanaka has spent his career in the Japanese League. Tanaka posted video game numbers last year going 24-0 while pitching 212 innings with an ERA of 1.27. While many rush to compare Tanaka with the Rangers’ Yu Darvish, the last highly touted import, others say that, of recent imports, Hiroki Kuroda is a better comparison. It may be easier to list teams unlikely to sign Tanaka, but potential fits for Tanaka could include the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and San Francisco Giants.
Ervin Santana, KC, SP - Santana was one of the better under the radar acquisitions last offseason as he was acquired with cash for Brandon Sisk. Santana threw 211 innings last year with an ERA+ of 127. Santana could not have timed the best season of his career any better and could benefit with a five or six-year deal. Potential destinations for Santana include the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians (if Jimenez departs), Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.
Joe Nathan, TEX, CL - If there was no Mariano Rivera, there would be Joe Nathan. Not really, but Nathan has had a remarkable career. Nathan converted 43 of 46 saves last year while striking out 29.2% of the batters he faced. Although Nathan will be entering his age 39 year and could help the back end of almost any contender’s bullpen. Nathan could find a home with the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, or, if he can be had for a bargain, Tampa Bay Rays.
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