Free Agent Market For Right-handed Starters

The free agent market for right-handed starters features an array of mediocrity.  Let's break it down.

The Best Available

Five healthy right-handed starters jump out from this year's free agent class: Carl Pavano, Bronson Arroyo, Jake Westbrook, Jon Garland, and Hiroki Kuroda.  Arroyo is expected to be retained by the Reds, however.  All five pitched 195+ innings, with Pavano actually tallying 227 including the playoffs.  Pavano also leads free agent righties in innings per start by a wide margin at 6.91.  As a Type A free agent, he'll likely carry the added cost of a draft pick.

Out of this group no one posted an ERA above Westbrook's 4.22, but Baseball Prospectus' cool SIERA stat suggests no one deserved one below 4.00 except Kuroda.  Aside from Arroyo, they're all groundballers.  Kuroda is the only thing close to a strikeout pitcher here, and his control and groundball rate were strong too.  Though he turns 36 in February, Kuroda is my pick from this group.  They're all capable innings eaters, though.

Teams willing to spend $8MM+ per year on one of these guys should look at Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma.  He may require a $16MM posting fee plus a contract, but he's only 30 and had pretty good numbers in Japan this year.

Back-End Rotation Types

Rodrigo Lopez, Kevin Millwood, Dave Bush, Jeremy Bonderman, and Freddy Garcia profile as 4.75 ERA, back-end rotation types.  Lopez and Millwood can chew up innings better than the others.  All five are prone to the longball.

Bounceback Candidates

Javier Vazquez, Kevin Correia, Aaron Harang, and Rich Harden are a year removed from useful seasons.  All four had attractive strikeout rates as starters this year.  Correia, with a 48.9% groundball rate, could be a sleeper.

Injured In 2010

Vicente Padilla (forearm) and Brad Penny (back) had strong but abbreviated seasons.  Brandon Webb (shoulder), Justin Duchscherer (hip), and Chris Young (shoulder) barely pitched at all.  Many millions will be guaranteed to these guys in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.

Non-Tender Candidates

Kyle Davies, Brian Bannister, Jeff Karstens, Dustin Moseley, John Maine, Sergio Mitre, and Brandon McCarthy are candidates to be cut loose next month by their teams.  They've all had their moments.

Outside The Box Options

Pedro Martinez and Braden Looper sat out the 2010 season; perhaps they could still help at the back-end of an NL rotation.  Koji Uehara spent the year as a reliever but would be an interesting starting candidate if he could stay healthy.

Fighting For Innings

Jeff Suppan, Todd Wellemeyer, Brian Moehler, Ian Snell, and Micah Owings will have to battle for opportunities and will have to be open to the bullpen or minor leagues.

Summary

As always, there's a handful of pitchers coming off solid seasons and a larger group of injured or ineffective hurlers.



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