Top Free Agent Starters
Its a good thing Bill Stoneman left a strong starting staff to our new GM, Tony Reagins. According to my CHONE projections, which aren't quite done yet but preceeding nicely, there really isn't anyone on this list that should start ahead of any of our 5 guys. Yes, that includes Ervin Santana. In his favor, he has shown some durability and has one of the best arms of any starter on the planet. I have no doubt that were he a free agent now, he'd get paid on potential alone, and command about what Gil Meche got last year. Even in a terrible year he struck out more than twice as many as he walked. If only he can avoid the long ball...
Now, for those unfortunate teams that need pitching, here's what the market will offer, starting from #10:
10. Rodrigo Lopez
Not that good, but kept his ERA under 5 in Colorado, before that he was durable and threw strikes in Baltimore. Sure, a lot of those strikes got hit, but its a weak market.
9. Brett Tomko
He throws strikes. He's able to provide slightly above replacement level pitching as a starter or from the bullpen.
8. Jeff Weaver
Ugh. Weaver the elder can pitch effectively sometimes, like down the stretch and into the playoffs for the 2006 Cardinals. He's also pitches a lot of batting practice. He got 8 million last year after a bad season, so somebody will pay him after this most recent bad season. Expect a bit of a paycut though, like the two guys right behind him, he'll get something in the 6 million range.
7. Kyle Lohse
Last year he might have been the most average pitcher in the National League. If you can do that and pitch 190 innings, you are going to get paid. CHONE doesn't like the quality of his 2006 season, and values him around 7 million, but he'll probably get closer to Jeff Suppan money, 40 million over 4 years.
6. Freddy Garcia
This is one of Bill Stoneman's best non-moves. Remember the stupid rumors of Santana + Figgins for Garcia and Joe Crede? Good thing we passed on that one. Garcia is obviously a health risk as he lost most of 2007 to injury, but was a fine pitcher before that. If your medical reports on him are promising, he'd be a nice guy to take a risk on, maybe in the 7 million range + option + incentives.
5. Bartolo Colon
Pretty much the same story as Garcia, except he's been mostly hurt for two years. I wish Bartolo the best as he attempts to restart his career in another uniform, and I'll always remember his shutout of the A's in his final start in 2004. When healthy last year he was still throwing upper 90's heat with good control, I hope he can stay healthy for more than 2-3 starts at a time.
4. Paul Byrd
Another former Angel. Byrd throws strikes, gives you a decent number of league average innings. He's 37 now, and will be somebody's #4 starter for about 17 million over 2 years.
3. Carlos Silva
Throws strikes, gets grounders, stays healthy. Its enough for a big payday.
2. Greg Maddux
He pitched in the most pitcher friendly place in baseball last year. He'll be 42, but he's a decent bet to keep throwing 200 innings of league average ball until father time finally catches him.
1. Curt Schilling
He's 41, and doesn't have nearly the stuff he once did, but any pitcher who can strike out 4 for every walk still has value, and his stuff is still not bad. He and Maddux are probably both worth 11-12 million, and his age is not a bad thing in that by signing him you should be able to get a 1 year deal, and not risk the chance of an Adam Eaton type albatross.
Others to consider: Jason Jennings, Kenny Rogers, Tom Glavine,