Five FA Pitchers Who Could Benefit From The NL

While the relative strength of the National League compared to the American League is debatable, it's hard to deny that the Senior Circuit is more appealing to pitchers. Replacing the pitcher in the lineup with a designated hitter makes AL lineups more potent, as this year's offensive statistics showed – five of baseball's top six run-scoring teams in 2010 play in the Junior Circuit.

The difference may be negligible for certain players, but each year there are usually a few pitchers who switch leagues and immediately see their numbers rise or fall accordingly. After being dealt from the Indians to the Cardinals this season, for instance, Jake Westbrook posted a 3.48 ERA and 6.6 K/9, compared to his Cleveland marks of 4.65 and 5.1.

So although there's no guarantee that starting pitchers will enjoy more success playing in the National League, here are five potential free agents who may benefit from signing with an NL club:

  • Javier Vazquez: Of all the pitchers who switched to the American League last offseason, Vazquez suffered perhaps the most drastic setback. After finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2009, the 34-year-old pitched so poorly this season that he lost his spot in the Yankees' starting rotation. Even taking into account his first two up-and-down years with the Expos, Vazquez's career NL numbers (4.02 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.3 BB/9) are better across the board than his AL totals (4.65, 7.9, 2.7). Vazquez won't be back in the Bronx, and his best shot at decreasing his 2010 longball rate (1.8 HR/9) and returning to form might come in the NL.
  • Kevin Millwood: We heard earlier this year that Millwood could seek a pitcher-friendly environment for 2011, after years of pitching in Baltimore and Texas. The move makes sense for the right-hander; he still has some value as a veteran innings eater, but could potentially be much more than that in a park like Petco in San Diego. We don't know what kind of contract the 35-year-old will be seeking, so it's possible he could be too expensive for a team like the Padres. For what it's worth though, San Diego was thought to have interest in Milwood in August.
  • Jeremy Bonderman: One of the youngest arms on the open market, Bonderman could be an interesting fourth or fifth starter for a team willing to take a flier on him. Though his 4.89 career ERA is uninspiring, he's a former first-round pick and will turn 28 next week. His career peripherals suggest that he still has potential, and he strikes me as the type of pitcher who would benefit from the tutelage of a pitching coach like the Cardinals' Dave Duncan. The Cards may re-sign Jake Westbrook or look elsewhere for starting pitching, but St. Louis isn't the only possible landing spot for the long-time Tiger, who could benefit from a change of scenery.
  • Bruce Chen: The 33-year-old journeyman has experienced an unusual major league career, playing for six National League teams before arriving in Boston in 2003. Since then, he has played for four different American League clubs. Chen's career numbers are relatively similar in both leagues, but coming off a successful season in Kansas City, perhaps a return to the NL could be in the cards. While the left-hander has lost some velocity on his fastball since he last played in the Senior Circuit, he's gotten by relying more on flyball outs and less on strikeouts. For a team in a pitcher's park, Chen could be a worthwhile back-of-the-rotation addition.
  • Rich Harden: Although a healthy season would help Harden's stock more than changing leagues would, moving to the National League certainly wouldn't hurt. While the right-hander excelled in Oakland when he was healthy, his second stint in the AL wasn't as impressive; his 5.58 ERA for the Rangers this year was by far a career-worst. Still, like Bonderman, Harden is relatively young, turning just 29 next month. He also had stretches of dominance in his time with the Cubs in 2008 and 2009, striking out 11 batters per nine innings and posting a 3.31 ERA in 212 innings over the two years. Again, health is the big concern with Harden, but an NL team may feel more comfortable taking the risk than an AL one would.


47 Responses to Five FA Pitchers Who Could Benefit From The NL Leave a Reply

  1. Im gonna go out on a limb and say Harden ends up with Milwaukee.

    • Ian_Smell 5 years ago

      I could totally see that happening.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      I say Marlins. And Bruce Chen who dominated MLB this season (for Bruce Chen that is) stays in KC.

    • coolstorybro222 5 years ago

      or The Reds could pick him up

    • Moflo 5 years ago

      I could see that happening but, at the same time, Milwaukee has stated that they will not sign many free agents. Considering the fact that Washburn is pretty much a definite signing for Melvin, I don’t see any other free agent pitchers coming to the Brewers…I also have high expectations of a Greinke trade happening though but that’s simply a wish.

  2. Ian_Smell 5 years ago

    I really want Bruce Chen to come to the Pirates. And who knows, maybe he could be a player/manager. But seriously, he’s the coolest guy in baseball and I want him on the Pirates.

    • truthlemonade 5 years ago

      Are you being serious? I do find his background interesting. Panamanian of Chinese descent.

      • Ian_Smell 5 years ago

        I really do want him to come to the Pirates. He’s pretty much better than anything they’ve got right now except for McDonald.

        • TheLastPirateFan 5 years ago

          That’s true, but if they got him, I have a feeling that it’s goin to be an Aki Iwamura repeat. I think that it is more likely that they will go after Bonderman, it would be a classic NH move, and they wouldn’t have to deal with Scott Boras, who is Chens agent.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      I really hate to say what I’m about to say because of the incredible cornyness to it, but here we go…

      If Bruce had his own TV show, it would be called “I Love Brucey”…Ricky Romero would be in it as well.

      Sorry guys I just had to.

      • Ian_Smell 5 years ago

        If he wrote a book it would be called “Bruce’d” and it’s sequel would be “Chen-dicated.”

        • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

          Bruce Chen can win connect 4 in three moves.

  3. TheLastPirateFan 5 years ago

    These are exactly the kind of pitchers the the Pirates should take a chance on.

  4. How about Harden taking Correia’s spot in rotation for the Padres? He would have to be cheap, but after two straight injury plagued season, he shouldn’t be asking for much.

  5. dilbert719 5 years ago

    Jeremy Bonderman would make a good deal of sense as Philly’s 5th starter next year, given the questions we’ve been trotting out (Moyer’s not in great health, Worley’s not experienced, Kendrick’s frightening every time he steps on the mound.)

  6. bigpat 5 years ago

    I don’t understand why Harden doesn’t just try and become a short reliever? His season this year was just horrible, he lost a lot of his trademark stuff and had one or two good starts but followed them up with terrible ones. He taxes the bullpen and goes on the DL every month with a sprained vagina, give it up already.

  7. bigpat 5 years ago

    I don’t understand why Harden doesn’t just try and become a short reliever? His season this year was just horrible, he lost a lot of his trademark stuff and had one or two good starts but followed them up with terrible ones. He taxes the bullpen and goes on the DL every month with a sprained vagina, give it up already.

  8. Eric 5 years ago

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Millwood sign a 1YR/5M deal with the Mariners. Safeco field is spacious and with Gutierrez and Ichiro running down balls in the gap, a deal in Seattle could be intriguing for the veteran pitcher.

    • cubfan4life 5 years ago

      That actually makes a lot of sense if he would take a deal like that. I dont know if a veteran starter is their highest priority but they need at least 2 starters this offseason along with a middle of the order bat. Millwood would be an intriguing option as a 3rd or 4th starter. And then perhaps a deal for one of Tampa’s pitchers to fit into the 2 spot. Cause they do have some prospects to pull off a deal but they just need too much to get everything done in one offseason.
      2011=another 90+ loss season, last place, and a top 5 draft pick.

      • Eric 5 years ago

        In 2011 the Mariners will likely struggle to play .500 ball. It will be a season about the kids (C Moore, 1B Smoak, 2B Ackley, LF Saunders, SP Pineda, and RP Cortes). There will be growing pains for sure, but hopefully they will find their stride.

        The M’s don’t have a significant amount of money to spend; smart moves will mean everything. I’m expecting to see the M’s renegotiate a deal with Branyan as a bat to compliment Bradley and provide insurance for Smoak at 1B, I’d also expect to see the M’s sign a veteran innings eater, like Millwood or Garland, to shore up the rotation (Felix, Millwood/Garland, Vargas, Fister, and Pineda). Lastly, the Mariners will likely pursue a middle infield type to man 2B (Ryan Theriot/Christian Guzman) until Ackley forces his way onto the 25-man roster mid-season, after Ackley’s emergence the acquisition need to have the ability to back-up to often injured SS Jack Wilson.

        • cubfan4life 5 years ago

          I agree wih everything you mentioned. Garland i think has been a very underrated pitcher the past few years. Putting him in Safeco could make both sides very happy. I like the idea of Theriot going there too. More than Guzman. Theriot can still play a solid if unspectacular SS and could overtake Wilson as the starter if/when Ackley arrives regardless of Wilsons health.

          I think Branyan will return unless a contending team sees him as a DH/1B option for them such as the White Sox, Detroit, or possibly even Tampa.

          Speaking of Tampa. What do you think the odds are of Seattle maybe inquiring about Shields? They have some movable prospects. Shields has a fairly team friendly contract. He would benefit from moving to a pitchers park and the money saved could be used for Tampa to extend Garza. What do you think?
          Maybe Saunders and Fister for Shields?

          • Eric 5 years ago

            James Shields is a very good pitcher on a very reasonable contract. Don’t buy into his 5.18ERA for 2010, his FIP was just 4.24. According to WAR, Shields is the Rays ace. I just don’t see the Rays moving him. Rays fans will enjoy a top three of Shields, Garza, and Price through at least 2012.

          • cubfan4life 5 years ago

            Idk that he would get moved either. Im just saying that I expect them to move one of their starters. I just think that Garza or Shields would be traded. Given those 2 options if you can get Garza to agree to a contract in the same style of the one Shields signed. 3 or 4 guaranteed years with 2 or 3 option years even at a higher starting salary then you trade Shields.
            While i think Shields is a much better pitcher than his numbers this year i think Garza still has a much higher upside. He is a couple years younger and has better stuff for pitching in a park like the trop.
            If Shields ends up in a pitcher friendly park I see no reason why he cant be a #2 or 3 guy depending on the team.
            If i was Seattle and i could add a guy like him for say a Saunders, Fister, and Carp package I jump at it. Put him and Felix at the top of that rotation in Safeco against the AL west it almost makes too much sense.
            Then on the TB side you get a young OF, 1B and a swingman who can start or relieve and you keep Garza long term with Price, Davis, Niemann and Hellickson.

          • cubfan4life 5 years ago

            Idk that he would get moved either. Im just saying that I expect them to move one of their starters. I just think that Garza or Shields would be traded. Given those 2 options if you can get Garza to agree to a contract in the same style of the one Shields signed. 3 or 4 guaranteed years with 2 or 3 option years even at a higher starting salary then you trade Shields.
            While i think Shields is a much better pitcher than his numbers this year i think Garza still has a much higher upside. He is a couple years younger and has better stuff for pitching in a park like the trop.
            If Shields ends up in a pitcher friendly park I see no reason why he cant be a #2 or 3 guy depending on the team.
            If i was Seattle and i could add a guy like him for say a Saunders, Fister, and Carp package I jump at it. Put him and Felix at the top of that rotation in Safeco against the AL west it almost makes too much sense.
            Then on the TB side you get a young OF, 1B and a swingman who can start or relieve and you keep Garza long term with Price, Davis, Niemann and Hellickson.

          • Eric 5 years ago

            James Shields is a very good pitcher on a very reasonable contract. Don’t buy into his 5.18ERA for 2010, his FIP was just 4.24. According to WAR, Shields is the Rays ace. I just don’t see the Rays moving him. Rays fans will enjoy a top three of Shields, Garza, and Price through at least 2012.

        • cubfan4life 5 years ago

          I agree wih everything you mentioned. Garland i think has been a very underrated pitcher the past few years. Putting him in Safeco could make both sides very happy. I like the idea of Theriot going there too. More than Guzman. Theriot can still play a solid if unspectacular SS and could overtake Wilson as the starter if/when Ackley arrives regardless of Wilsons health.

          I think Branyan will return unless a contending team sees him as a DH/1B option for them such as the White Sox, Detroit, or possibly even Tampa.

          Speaking of Tampa. What do you think the odds are of Seattle maybe inquiring about Shields? They have some movable prospects. Shields has a fairly team friendly contract. He would benefit from moving to a pitchers park and the money saved could be used for Tampa to extend Garza. What do you think?
          Maybe Saunders and Fister for Shields?

      • Eric 5 years ago

        In 2011 the Mariners will likely struggle to play .500 ball. It will be a season about the kids (C Moore, 1B Smoak, 2B Ackley, LF Saunders, SP Pineda, and RP Cortes). There will be growing pains for sure, but hopefully they will find their stride.

        The M’s don’t have a significant amount of money to spend; smart moves will mean everything. I’m expecting to see the M’s renegotiate a deal with Branyan as a bat to compliment Bradley and provide insurance for Smoak at 1B, I’d also expect to see the M’s sign a veteran innings eater, like Millwood or Garland, to shore up the rotation (Felix, Millwood/Garland, Vargas, Fister, and Pineda). Lastly, the Mariners will likely pursue a middle infield type to man 2B (Ryan Theriot/Christian Guzman) until Ackley forces his way onto the 25-man roster mid-season, after Ackley’s emergence the acquisition need to have the ability to back-up to often injured SS Jack Wilson.

    • cubfan4life 5 years ago

      That actually makes a lot of sense if he would take a deal like that. I dont know if a veteran starter is their highest priority but they need at least 2 starters this offseason along with a middle of the order bat. Millwood would be an intriguing option as a 3rd or 4th starter. And then perhaps a deal for one of Tampa’s pitchers to fit into the 2 spot. Cause they do have some prospects to pull off a deal but they just need too much to get everything done in one offseason.
      2011=another 90+ loss season, last place, and a top 5 draft pick.

  9. Eric 5 years ago

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge M’s fan and would love to see the M’s acquire James Shields. Acquiring him would be a move that works now and the future, but a package of Saunders, Fister, and Carp won’t get it done.

    While Saunders is promising, Fister is a back of the rotation starter, and Carp probably will not find success at the major league level. If I had to put a package together it would look something like this: INF Matt Tuiasosopo, OF Greg Halman (If they buy into his 2010 AAA 33HR total), RP Josh Lueke, and C Rob Johnson. Honestly, the only guy in the package I would want to hold onto is the controversial Lueke (He has closer potential).

    • cubfan4life 5 years ago

      Right now idk if anyone would touch Lueke. And with Jaso idk that Johnson is a fit either. Maybe a Tui, Halman, Triunfel type package

      • Eric 5 years ago

        The M’s would probably jump on that deal, and I would think less of the Rays for agreeing to it. Triunfel is still a good prospect, but the Mariners have a kid SS named Nick Franklin who might skip high A ball in 2011 in a promotion to AA.

        As for Lueke, I really hope they don’t or can’t trade him and decide to bite the bullet. He is a talented reliever with a high 90’s fastball and reasonable control. It would be fun to watch Josh and Dan Cortes compete for the closers role based on their 2011 seasons.

        • cubfan4life 5 years ago

          I think that the M’s are stuck with Lueke and that may be a very good thing. Hopefully he can move past his past and continue to be a very nice prospect.
          And i had forgotten about Franklin. Swap him in for Triunfel and that might be the more attractive package. But it would still hinge on being about to lock up Garza to a long term deal.

          • Eric 5 years ago

            The M’s have a few recently drafted/traded for prospects that I don’t think they will part with (2B Ackley, SS Franklin, and 1B Smoak). Feel free to pick from C Moore, LF Saunders, and RP Lueke in the right deal.

            A few years ago, directly after the M’s acquired Bedard, they had one of the worst farm systems. With the help of Jack Zduriencik, the M’s have done a very job of adding talent to the farm system. If everything goes well, the Mariners have a great core of players that should result in success by 2012-2013. These include: 1B Smoak, 2B Ackley, SP Pineda, and RP Cortes. Other probables include: C Moore, SS Franklin, SS Triunfel (If he ever beats AA), LF Saunders, and SP Robles.

        • cubfan4life 5 years ago

          I think that the M’s are stuck with Lueke and that may be a very good thing. Hopefully he can move past his past and continue to be a very nice prospect.
          And i had forgotten about Franklin. Swap him in for Triunfel and that might be the more attractive package. But it would still hinge on being about to lock up Garza to a long term deal.

      • Eric 5 years ago

        The M’s would probably jump on that deal, and I would think less of the Rays for agreeing to it. Triunfel is still a good prospect, but the Mariners have a kid SS named Nick Franklin who might skip high A ball in 2011 in a promotion to AA.

        As for Lueke, I really hope they don’t or can’t trade him and decide to bite the bullet. He is a talented reliever with a high 90’s fastball and reasonable control. It would be fun to watch Josh and Dan Cortes compete for the closers role based on their 2011 seasons.

    • cubfan4life 5 years ago

      Right now idk if anyone would touch Lueke. And with Jaso idk that Johnson is a fit either. Maybe a Tui, Halman, Triunfel type package

    • I still think they should flip Carp to the Angels. Just on the off chance that he became a fan favorite.

      Couple Carp with Salmon and Trout, and the Angels legends would all be fish.

      • Eric 5 years ago

        I have serious doubts that Carp will ever be productive at the MLB level, let alone a legend, but I like your enthusiasm.

        • The enthusiasm only exists so that when I’m old, I can look back on Angels teams led by fish.

  10. Interesting that 3 out of these 5 formerly pitched for the Braves. What that tells us, I don’t know.

  11. Interesting that 3 out of these 5 formerly pitched for the Braves. What that tells us, I don’t know.

  12. Lanidrac 5 years ago

    I think Dave Duncan had more to do with Westbrook’s improvement than switching leagues did.

  13. myname_989 5 years ago

    The name Freddy Garcia still makes me cringe.

  14. rapt00r 5 years ago

    While I don’t disagree with you, I have to believe Garcia stays a member of the White Sox. He was too valuable to the team this year and with Peavy’s status for 2011 still unclear, it makes sense for the Sox to try to retain him in the offseason.

  15. Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

    No one has a better name than his teammate…

    Micah Kilakila Ka’Aihue…And Kila’s brother, Kala Ka’Aihue. Come on…Thats pretty awes!ome as well.

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