Top Available Free Agent Pitchers In 2014
With the 2013 MLB regular season coming to an end and the playoffs about to begin, it is never too early to begin to look toward the next season. For those of us with teams who won’t be playing in the playoffs, the end of the season signifies the start of a new season: the offseason. While this year’s talent pool of free agents doesn’t feature a lot of superstars and may look a little bear compared to most, nevertheless there will always be great finds.
For this piece, we will take a look at this year’s top available free agent pitchers.
Starting Pitchers – (Pitchers with options were not included)
1. Matt Garza – Texas Rangers
Since being traded to the Rangers from the Chicago Cubs, Garza has been inconsistent at times and overall, didn’t live up to the expectations the Rangers had for him. With the Rangers, Garza has a 4-5 W-L record, with a 4.56 ERA, 43 R, 12 HR, 20 BB, 71 SO, and a 1.241 WHIP. While with the Cubs however, Garza had a 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA, 26 R, 8 HR, 20 BB, 62 SO, and a 1.141 WHIP, so the talent is there. He is still only 29 years olds so he will be in the middle of his prime.
2. Ervin Santana – Kansas City Royals
Santana came into the league with much hype surrounding him and for the earlier part of his career he looked like he would live up to that hype. However, after two disappointing seasons (2011 and 2012), the Los Angeles Angels traded him to the Royals for a minor leaguer. With the Royals, Santana has had a revival with a 9-9 W-L record with a 3.16 ERA, 81 R, 25 HR, 47 BB, 159 SO, and a 1.132 WHIP. At age 31, he still has some years left of quality innings in his arm.
3. Ricky Nolasco – Los Angeles Dodgers
Since being traded to the Dodgers from the Miami Marlins for a bag of peanuts and a bucket of Davidson Sunflower seeds, Nolasco has been as good as advertised and more. He has comfortably supplanted himself into the Dodgers rotation, pitching to the tune of an 8-2 W-L record with a 3.14 ERA, 34 R, 5 HR, 20 BB, 67 SO, and a 1.170 WHIP. He too will also be turning 31 years old at the start of next season, and will command a nice contract.
4. Hiroki Kuroda – New York Yankees
He has been the model for consistency the past 4 season, 2 with the Dodgers and 2 with the Yankees. He’ll get you a .500 W-L record with a low-3 ERA, 150 SO’s, in 200+ IP. This season with the Yankees, Kuroda is 11-13 with a 3.31, 79 R, 20 HR, 43 BB, 150 SO, and a 1.162 WHIP. The downside is that he will be 39 years old at the start of next season so teams will have to ask themselves if he will hold up and be worth the 2-3 year contract he may command.
5. Tim Lincecum – San Francisco Giants
Let’s not beat around the bush, Lincecum is not the same pitcher he was when he was winning multiple CY Young’s and World Series rings. But don’t let last year’s and this season’s numbers fool you. He was a much better starting pitcher this season than last and better than his 10-14 W-L record and his 4.44 ERA. His control and command have improved this season, allowing 74 BB compared to 90 last season, and he will still get you 175-180+ SO’s a season.
6. Bartolo Colon – Oakland A’s
Whatever gravy is following through Colon’s veins sure is working out well for him. At age 40, Colon is having one of his best seasons: 17-6 W-L record with a 2.64 ERA (career low), 58 R, 12 HR, 28 BB, 109 SO, and a 1.183 WHIP. It’s pretty remarkable. He hasn’t expressed any desire to retire so we have to assume that he does plan on pitching next season. However, he will be turning 41 years old, so one has to wonder when the regression will finally hit him.
7. A.J. Burnett – Pittsburgh Pirates
After being exiled by the Yankees after 3 sub-par seasons, Burnett has found a home with the Pirates. He has pitched well since joining the team in 2012 and this season, he was a main cog in a starting rotation that guided the Pirates to their first winning season and playoff appearance in 20+ seasons. Burnett is 9-11 W-L, with a 3.39 ERA, 78 R, 10 HR, 66 BB, 203 SO, and a 1.235 WHIP. He says he wants to pitch next season, and at 36, he isn’t slowing down either.
Relief Pitchers – (Pitchers with options were not included)
1. Edward Mujica – St. Louis Cardinals
Mujica was handed the closer duties after the Cardinals lost closer Jason Motte for the season with Tommy John surgery, and Mujica did not disappoint. In his first full season as a closer, Mujica has posted more than adequate numbers: 37 SV with a 2.53 ERA, 18 R, 8 HR, 5 BB, 46 SO, and a 0.969 WHIP. Mujica also made his first All-Star game this season as well. With these types of numbers and at age 29, Mujica will be in for a huge pay day.
2. Grant Balfour – Oakland A’s
No one ever thought of Balfour as a full-time closer, but once giving the job by the A’s in the middle of the 2012 season, he has been very reliable. This season, Balfour has converted 38 SV with a 2.67 ERA, 20 R, 7 HR, 26 BB, 69 SO, and a 1.203 WHIP. Balfour also made his first All-Star team this season as well. Balfour at times can be a bit shaky and loose with his control, but nevertheless he gets the job done. He is 35 years old, so age is not working in his favor.
3. Fernando Rodney – Tampa Bay Rays
After a remarkable 2012 campaign where Rodney was probably the best closer in all of baseball, posting a ridiculous 48 SV with a 0.60 ERA and a 0.777 WHIP, finishing 5th in the CY Young Award final voting, Rodney has been a major disappointment for the Rays this season. He has still converted 36 SV, but his ERA ballooned to 3.44 and his WHIP is 1.301. But, he does have a track record and despite turning 38 next season, some team need his services.