Free agent starting pitchers. 122 comments

This is the deepest market for free-agent pitchers I can ever remember. Last year, it was Max Scherzer and everyone else. This year, there are about a half dozen aces available, and another half dozen pitchers who could turn around a rotation. I would be very surprised if the Rangers don’t take a plunge on a free agent.

Now that Gallardo said no to their qualifying offer, the Rangers’ rotation going into next year is Hamels, Perez, Holland and pray like Hell that Darvish comes back. Even with Hamels, Perez and Holland, you have to pray like Hell that Holland isn’t pitching scared like he did to end 2013 and 2015, in both instances falling apart after getting his head nearly torn off with a line drive. He was never the same either time. So, the Rangers could use one more quality starter. Good thing is, they don’t need a crazy-money starter.

Here is the list of available free agent pitchers and their ages:

Brett Anderson (28)
Chad Billingsley (31)
Joe Blanton (35)
Mark Buehrle (37)
Trevor Cahill (28)
Chris Capuano (37)
Wei-Yin Chen (30)
Bartolo Colon (43)
Johnny Cueto (30)
Marco Estrada (32)
Doug Fister (32)
Yovani Gallardo (30)
Dillon Gee (30)
Jeremy Guthrie (37)
Zack Greinke (32)
J.A. Happ (33)
Aaron Harang (38)
Rich Hill (36)
Hisashi Iwakuma (35)
Scott Kazmir (32)
Kyle Kendrick (31)
Ian Kennedy (31)
John Lackey (37)
Mat Latos (28)
Mike Leake (28)
Colby Lewis (36)
Cliff Lee (37)
Tim Lincecum (32)
Kyle Lohse (37)
Shaun Marcum (34)
Justin Masterson (31)
Brandon Morrow (31)
Hector Noesi (29)
Sean O’Sullivan (28)
Bud Norris (31)
Mike Pelfrey (32)
David Price (30)
Jeff Samardzija (31)
Alfredo Simon (35)
Ryan Vogelsong (38)
Jerome Williams (34)
Chris Young (37)
Jordan Zimmermann (30)

There are so many great names on this list, and so many pitchers who could take the Rangers rotation to the next level, and so many combinations and permutations that it would be impossible to list them all.

I can’t see the Rangers going after the top tier, that being Greinke, Price, Cueto or Zimmerman. I would have never imagined they would have taken the plunge on Choo a couple of years ago, either, though. So you never know. But I doubt it. If they were, though, I’d want Grienke for the next few years. But not the last few you are going to have to take in order to get the first few. There are a lot of Idiot Owners who are going to throw six- and seven-year deals at these guys. And then in two years regret it like a sailor regrets the decisions he makes on shore leave.

The second-tier starters might be more attractive to Daniels. Guys like Wei-Yin Chen, Bartolo Colon, Marco Estrada, Hisashi Iwakuma, Scott Kazmir, John Lackey and Jeff Samardzija could find their markets greatly compromised since there are so many pitchers available like them. Supply might keep up with demand for once.

Then there is a third-tier that holds intrigue. Doug Fister could be a steal. Dillon Gee is someone that the Rangers have reportedly tried to deal for in the future. J.A. Happ revitalized his career in Pittsburgh. Was it fluke? Mike Leake is an intriguing name. He has had flashes of brilliance. Maybe he can put it together.

A few others fall into that I Need To Sign A One Year Deal For Less Money To Prove My Worth Again. You can either find a steal of the season in this pile. Or just a steaming pile in this pile. Mat Latos, Trevor Cahill, and Tim Lincecum come to mind. There are a few other pitchers who could make a nice bottom of the rotation addition as well.

Avoid Joe Blanton. Avoid Justin Masterson. Avoid Jerome Williams. Avoid Chad Billingsley. Jon Daniels loves these innings eaters.

If it were up to me, I would go after Hisashi Iwakuma. In four seasons, he is 47-25, with an ERA of 3.17. In any other rotation without King Felix, he would have been their number one starter. The guy just delivers start after start.

With so many quality arms available at so many different tiers, it will be interesting to see how the market develops. It seems like it might go slow until the first big name signs and establishes what the market will be.

But I think there will be some real steals (relatively speaking, of course) available in the free agent starting pitcher market this off-season. And I think the Rangers are going to go out and get themselves one.

Because one more quality starter can take this rotation up a notch that just very well could make it the best in the American League. Assuming a full Yu Darvish.