In Part 1 of the Post-Tanakalyptic Wasteland, I examined the top three position players remaining in the MLB free agent pool. Here are the top three remaining pitchers—who needs them, who wants them, and where they might end up.
Top Remaining MLB Free Agents - Pitchers
Santana had a very nice year with the Royals in 2013, although his 9-10 record may not have shown it—he was a victim of poor run support, as most Kansas City starters are. He finished with an ERA of 3.24, the best of his career, and his second-best WHIP at 1.142. Unfortunately for him, Santana thought he could cash in on his success, seeking a $100 million deal in the early offseason.
Sorry fella, that’s a bit too ambitious. Nobody has bitten, and he is now without a team in late January, which most likely means he’s going to have to settle for a much more modest deal. With Tanaka off the board though, he may yet receive a very nice deal considering the lack of free agent pitching remaining. Santana does come with a compensatory draft pick though, making him even less enticing.
The Rangers lost Derek Holland to a freak injury, and while they still have arms in waiting (most notably Nick Tepesch), it would not surprise me to see them make a run at Santana for a three- or four-year deal.
Toronto is still in dire need of solid pitching. Though they have plenty of arms available (Drew Hutchison, Esmil Rogers, and Todd Redmond) to fill the fifth spot in the rotation after Dickey, Morrow, Buerhle and Happ, I would not consider any of their starters to be an “ace”. Should Santana live up to last year’s performance and receive some run support from the Blue Jay boppers, he could provide stability to a very shaky rotation. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they have two protected first-round picks, meaning at worst they’d only need to give up a second-rounder.
Let’s not count out the Yankees either, as they, along with the Orioles and Twins, recently requested medicals on Santana. I would say it’s pretty clear they’re not concerned about the luxury tax anymore, and their rotation is still shaky despite the addition of Tanaka. Ervin Santana would make a better 4-5 starter than either an inconsistent Ivan Nova or an inexperienced David Phelps, but let’s not forget that he’s a fly ball pitcher, which is a dangerous occupation in Yankee Stadium.
Ubaldo is an anomaly. Remember in early 2010, when he won like 75 games in the first half with an ERA of -40 or so? He finished the year at 19-8 with an ERA of 2.88. For those not keeping track, he finished the next two seasons at a combined 19-30 with an ERA just a shade over 5.00. Then he finished out an average 2013 with a ridiculous 4-0 record and 1.09 ERA in the final month of the season. He also has a draft pick attached to him, and given his history, any deal that he could be offered, particularly a long-term one, is quite literally a roll of the dice.
So who’s that desperate? Honestly, very few teams. Earlier this winter Jimenez was looking for $17-$20 million a year, which most certainly is not going to happen now. The Royals made a qualifying offer to Jimenez, and they could certainly use another solid arm in their rotation. They may be unwilling to deal a draft pick away though, and they certainly will not pay what Jimenez is asking.
The Orioles are in desperate need of a starter, as they only have four seasoned starters at the moment. They could be willing to offer Jimenez a smaller deal should he become desperate and lower his price considerably. Kevin Gausman is waiting in the wings, but for the right price they could bite on Jimenez until Gausman solidifies his position as a veritable starter.
The Mariners may very well continue to spend this offseason, and it most certainly could be on starting pitching. After King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma, there are quite a few question marks in the Mariners rotation. Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker both should end up in the starting five, but after that you’re looking at Brad Maurer and James Paxton, neither of which are certain to be effective. Jimenez could make a nice addition to back up Hernandez and Iwakuma.
With Matt Garza recently signing with the Brewers and A.J. Burnett uncertain whether he will even come back to pitch in 2014, the only real option remaining is the wily veteran who will turn 37 in February. Arroyo is clearly a fourth or fifth starter regardless of what team he lands on, but he is a consistently solid option for such spots. He has started 32 or more games in each of the last 10 seasons, which shows rare durability for one so seasoned. His ERA will drift between the 3.80-4.50 range, and he’ll most likely still win 10 or 12 games. He will command a low price for a small amount of years, so he will end up somewhere relatively soon.
The Phillies have shows some interest in Arroyo, although whether or not they are willing to pay for him remains to be seen. It would not surprise me to see Ruben Amaro Jr. overpay for Arroyo, as he has shown a penchant for adding aging arms of late. Arroyo doesn’t have a draft pick attached to him, so it wouldn’t surprise me.
The Dodgers, having lost out on Masahiro Tanaka, are still looking for arms. Arroyo is an attractive option due to his durability and consistency (however unimpressive it may be), and he could prove to be a better option than the current members of the back end of the Dodgers rotation (Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley). They’ve got the money to spend, although whether they’re willing to offer the three-year deal that Arroyo is seeking is far from certain.
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