Next Offseason’s Best Available Starters

Starting pitchers Wandy Rodriguez, Bronson Arroyo, and R.A. Dickey signed multiyear contracts this offseason, weakening an already poor 2011-12 free agent class.  Let's take a look at the best remaining options for next winter's shoppers.

Free Agents

  • C.C. Sabathia – There is an expectation that Sabathia will opt out of his remaining four years and $92MM with the expectation of a bigger contract.  If he does, there is the possibility of the Yankees extending him before he hits the open market.  Sabathia could top his own seven-year, $161MM record for a pitcher.
  • C.J. Wilson – Wilson is in the running as the second best free agent starter in this group, though an extension with the Rangers remains possible.
  • Mark Buehrle – Buehrle seems unusually willing to talk about his future.  Assuming he doesn't retire, he told Dan McNeil, "It's going to have to be with a contender and somewhere where my family is comfortable."  His list of potential destinations will be pretty short, with the White Sox and Cardinals leading.
  • Ryan Dempster – Dempster has a $14MM player option for 2012.  I imagine interest is mutual in Dempster remaining with the Cubs, but the righty is entitled to seek more security than one year and $14MM.
  • Edwin Jackson – Jackson is a breakout candidate for 2011, as explained here.
  • Hiroki Kuroda – Like Buehrle, Kuroda is not going to market himself to the highest bidder.  He'll probably aim to re-sign with the Dodgers or at least remain on the West Coast.
  • Roy Oswalt – Oswalt gets a $2MM buyout on his $16MM mutual option regardless of which side declines.  The best business move is to test the market, but like some others on this list Oswalt figures to be picky.
  • Joel Pineiro – He'll need to come back strong from a shoulder injury.
  • A few more free agent starters will surely emerge during the season, as Pineiro did in 2009.  Click here to browse the full list.  Others will join the list as non-tenders, but probably not anyone who belongs on this list.

Trade Candidates

  • James Shields: His contract offers the best flexibility you'll find for a solid veteran starter, with club options for '12, '13, and '14.  If the Rays have someone ready to take his place, next offseason might be the time to cash in.  Fausto Carmona is on a similar contract, but doesn't have Shields' trade value.
  • Chris Carpenter: Theoretically the Cardinals could exercise Carpenter's $15MM option for 2012, and then try to trade him for a cheaper starter.
  • Braves starters: They're in the catbird seat, with Jair Jurrjens and Derek Lowe among the trade candidates if they decide to use their pitching surplus to fix another area.
  • Astros starters: Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez would be attractive trade chips, whether at this year's deadline or in the offseason.  Still, I see the Astros keeping them.  Same goes for the Orioles and Jeremy Guthrie.
  • The Brewers, Mets, Giants, Phillies, and Angels have some interesting trade candidates, most of whom will be getting more expensive in 2012.  It's too early to call whether guys like Shaun Marcum, Mike Pelfrey, or Jonathan Sanchez will become available, though. 

73 Responses to Next Offseason’s Best Available Starters Leave a Reply

  1. baseballdude 4 years ago

    this would be pretty good offseason for pitchers

  2. rovert22044 4 years ago

    I really wish my Astros would go into rebuilding mode and get rid of half the team. Pick up some solid prospects for what we have and get a younger team going, just like the Royals did.

    C: Jason Castro
    1B: Bret Wallace
    3B: Chris Johnson
    SS: Tommy Manzella
    CF: Michael Bourn
    RF: Hunter Pence

    SP: J.A. Happ
    SP: Bud Norris
    SP: Wesley Wright
    SP: Jordan Lyles

    Pick up a solid 2B, LF, and 2-3 SP prospects and we are good to go. I know the pitching staff isn’t too amazing, but it will give them experience and they can build off of it.

    I think if we do this, we will be like the Royals for a year or two, then we will be set to compete. Stack up on pitching during Free Agency and let our Hitting prospects, and other young players, handle the offensive part.

    That’s just my 2 cents…

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      “Pick up a solid 2B, LF, and 2-3 SP prospects and we are good to go”

      you can pretty much write that about any team in the major leagues

      • goner 4 years ago

        not quite *any* team… the Pirates already have a solid 2B and LF (Neil Walker and Jose Tabata, though both are 2nd-year players) and 3 good SP pitching prospects (Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, Luis Heredia).

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          lol is this a serious response?

          why don’t we wait for some of their prospects to pitch professional baseball before we anoint them as all stars yes?

          • goner 4 years ago

            Dead serious — you said prospects, not stars. Are you really suggesting that Taillon, Allie, and Heredia *shouldn’t* be considered prospects?

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            prospects is a very general term..

            While I do like the Pirates minor league camp. To say they are done accumulating players would be foolish.

          • goner 4 years ago

            When did anyone say the Pirates were done accumulating players? By that ‘logic’, they wouldn’t need the first pick in the 2011 draft.

            The Pirates will have to consistently reload the farm system if they ever hope to consistently compete for a division title. But hopefully they won’t need a 2B or a LF for the next few years at least.

    • dommer04 4 years ago

      As a life long royals fan, you don’t want to be like us. The future looks good, but we have been through this too many times over the last 20 years. Its a youth movement (damon, sweeney, ibaniez), then veterans (gonzales, lima, sanders), back to youth (gordon, butler), back to vets (or brave castoffs), now we’re back to youth. The only upside is with this many high prospects odds are they all can’t fail. Then again no team lost 100 games four straight seasons until us…

      By the way, thanks brew crew…maybe you will learn to love Zach like we did…like the crazy kid with a world of talent but who did too many things that annoyed the hell out of us (like hurting himself during a pickup basketball game)

  3. BlueSkyLA
    BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

    Kuroda’s willingness to take a one-year contact this season signals to me that he’s not expecting to play in MLB next season. I think there’s a strong possibility that he could either retire or choose to close out his career in Japan.

    • I’m thinking the same, he signed way early with the Dodgers last year for just one year when he was arguably a top 4 FA starter. If he has a big season though, I could see him signing a multi-year deal somewhere, given the relatively weak FA class for pitchers(not that 2010 wasn’t weak, just saying).

  4. RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

    So Carmona doesnt have the same value as the overrated Shields? Who writes this garbage?

    • The author’s name is right up top. Me.

      • bamf9 4 years ago

        No offense to Mr. Dierkes, I love mlbtraderumors and most everything you write, but I would no doubt rather have carmona than shields.

        • That’s fine, there’s definitely room for different opinions. Probably be best not to call other people’s opinions garbage though.

          • vonhayesdays 4 years ago

            People are quick to insult on this site thats for sure atleast you didnt get the obligatory (FAIL). I like the article anyway

          • I do have to agree with him Tim, who writes this garbage? The fact that they left Carlos Silva off this list is INFURIATING!!!

          • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

            I totally agree sir! And btw, how about them Cubs!

        • Why? In what way is Carmona better?

          Shields has thrown more innings with a lower ERA, a higher K rate, and a lower BB rate. Carmona, for his career, has the slight edge in H/9 and HR/9. That’s it…..

          Shields sucked last year, no doubt. But prior to last season, what was Carmona’s ERA the previous two? A combined 5.82 in just 246 innings. Just don’t see how anyone could value Carmona over Shields…..

          • goner 4 years ago

            Fausto Carmona’s last name reminds me of a Ramones song, so he’s already better than Shields right there.

          • Ian_Smell 4 years ago

            Sweet, sweet little Carmona…

      • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

        Oops! Lol!

    • Both are on team options through 2014…..

      Carmona career: 749 innings, 4.53 ERA, 1.446 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 5.5 K/9, 6.8 WAR

      Shields career: 985 innings, 4.24 ERA, 1.278 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 7.4 K/9, 11.6 WAR

      What is it you’re not understanding?

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        who wrote those garbage stats?

      • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

        Shields has never had a year like Carmona in 07 and last if u compare their last seasons body of work it’s another no contest for Carmona. What about this don’t you understand?

        • You’ve gotta be kidding…..

          Yes, Carmona was better last year. I said that Shields sucked, didn’t I? But even with Shields high ERA last year, his peripherals were better than Carmona’s.

          Look, maybe I went a little overboard with the condescension. But Shields just has more upside, as the numbers clearly show.

        • vtadave 4 years ago

          Before you go using four-year old data to make a case for your guy after insulting the website owner, try looking at the last three years worth of data.

          Shields – 10.0 WAR
          Carmona – 4.2 WAR

          Yes, Carmona had a slightly better year in 2010, but was he dominant and Shields garbage based on this?:

          2010 Carmona – 2.7 WAR, 5.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 46.7% GB%
          2010 Shields – 2.2 WAR, 8.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 50.0% GB%

          Now if you want to use prior-year ERA to predict future-year success, I’m not sure what to tell you.

      • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

        Also, one pitches in the AL East.

  5. daveineg 4 years ago

    I don’t think the Brewers have any intention of dealing Marcum after this season. Randy Wolf is another story. If he can produce numbers slightly better than the 13-12, 4.17, he posted last year, there’s sure to be some market for him as there was for Ted Lilly. Depending on how he does, the question is how much if any of the $9.75 million he’s owed for 2012 would the Brewers have to pick up. Given what the Dodgers shelled out for 3 years of Lilly, it might not be all that much if he can post 12-14 wins and an ERA under 4.

  6. CitizenSnips 4 years ago

    $23MM a year for CC is still slightly generous. While opting out just to sign with the only team that will pay him that extra couple of million a year is a good business move on his part it’s still kind of a pathetic move.

    • Disagree…to seek a guaranteed 6-7 years instead of the 4 you have is reasonable.

      • CitizenSnips 4 years ago

        I was under the impression it was for the same 4 years, just more money per. Do you think he’d keep the $23MM a year for 6 or 7 more or maybe try to bump it up higher for that same length of time?

      • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

        Your logic is impeccable and you are spot on Mr. Dierkes! As usual, I am impressed!

        • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

          You’re so blatant. Ehh, at least it’s entertaining, though. hahaaha

          • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

            Gotta love someone who doesn’t jump on the attack bandwagon. Too many angry stat geeks here who argue over uzr, peripherals, etc. You’re one of the good guys “”Bias”! I screwed up so might as well laugh at it right?

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          start your own website if your so unsatisfied with this one.

          MLB troll rumours

          • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

            Why are you acting like a little girl who’s dropped her ice cream! No need to cry or get upset cuz you’re wrong!

  7. Scott 4 years ago

    Does Adam Wainwright not count because he’s got the options yet to be picked up?

  8. woadude 4 years ago

    If CC opts out, the Yankees will not resign him, it will be his way of saying he doesn’t like New York, the Yankees got a World Series with him and so what they paid him so far would be validated and they would wish him the best wherever he goes.

    • baseball33 4 years ago

      Can you imagine what the rotation would look like next year if he opts out and they let him walk?

      • 0bsessions 4 years ago


      • woadude 4 years ago

        Their bats are lethal, people can say they are aging, but they are also producing, they don’t hit below the mendoza line, you can be a pitcher with a 4.5 era and win 16 games with the Yankees.

        • baseball33 4 years ago

          I don’t feel comfortable with Mendoza line starting pitchers in the rotation. I’m tired of question mark starters. I want sure things. Especially in the playoffs. In my view CC is the only sure thing type on next years list. Oswalts is my next choice but he is getting up there in age so I wouldn’t exactly jump on him.

    • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

      I think necessity and a willingness to win will prevail over a bruised front office ego. No way they don’t re-sign him if he opts out.

      • baseball33 4 years ago

        That’s right. You answered my question

      • LifeLongYankeeFan 4 years ago

        Exactly they just can’t let him opt out and leave they need him the Yankees would admit they need him he’s their ace they’ll just give him a blank check. They need to resign him and go after another good sp if they don’t trade for one. Isn’t there a good chance that Yu Darvish could be coming to the Majors this offseason.

    • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

      I disagree. Just because he opts out doesn’t mean he dislikes NY. Now if he opts out and signs elsewhere for less then you would be right. If he opts out and resigns for the same 4 x $23 mil plus whatever else he’s offered for another 2 or 3 years then it was for more security.

  9. Guest 4 years ago

    What??!!! No mention of Felix to the Yankees?

    • CitizenSnips 4 years ago

      Nova, Nunez, and a couple lower prospects. GET IT DONE CASHMAN!

      (A buddy of mine seriously proposed this the other day)

      • j6takish 4 years ago

        Every absurd Yankee trade proposal HAS to Include Joba, don’t you know that?

        • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

          If Joba’s in the deal, the Mariners have to throw in Ichiro with Felix. It’s only fair!

          • LifeLongYankeeFan 4 years ago

            No disrespect to Ichiro but I wouldn’t trade for a 37 year old of when you got a very good outfield which is all 30 years old or younger. That proposal is just so wrong. It would probably take Montero, Nova, Nunez, one of Betances or Banuelos and probably the Yankees eating most of Felixs salary. Maybe one more prospect.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            lol if this is sarcasm, its pure genius.

            if its for real, its pure stupidity.

          • LifeLongYankeeFan 4 years ago

            About Ichiro I’m serious alright as far as the other thing what would it take being serious. Phil Hughes? Any more then Hughes and the rest of the package I included isn’t worth it for the Yankees. Tell ya what I’ll throw in Igawa to make Ichiro happy.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            Ichiro is a 21 year old with a 37 year old birth certificate.

            The yankees, just like every team in the mlb, would find room for him..

            Trade Swisher for an arm, move Ichiro in. Win

          • LifeLongYankeeFan 4 years ago

            I guess its not that I wouldn’t want Ichiro on my team he’s still a very talented player but I really like the Yankees outfield it may not be the best but I like the personalities of Gardner, Granderson and Swish Swish is actually one of my favorite players. I just don’t want to get rid of any 3 of them and least not for another 3 or 4 years. Another reason I like them all is because they’re pretty young by Yankees standards at least. The Yankees do have to trade for a good starting pitcher if they want to really compete for a playoff spot this year though. I also don’t blame Soriano for last night either as much as I blame Girardi. CC’s 30 he could have pitched another inning and then Mo in the 9th boom there you go. I actually missed last nights game but from what I read CC was on.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Ya know, I love Ichiro…and I appreciate the man as much as anyone. He’s a great hitter and probably even better defender…..But they need to trade him to a contender who needs a top of the order bat.
            I would expect one very good prospect, and one high risk/high reward type…..but Ichiro honestly has no value in Seattle.

  10. Loody 4 years ago

    If Beckett is lousy again this year or for that matter even just mediocre, can you see the Red Sox making him and that contract available?

  11. soobster 4 years ago

    According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Cole Hamels after this season as well. How is he not on that list, did he sign some deal nobody has heard about?

  12. Cole Hamels as one more year of arbitration after this year. He is under the phillies control until through 2012

  13. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    lol right…
    you put your foot in your mouth get called on it, then agree with Tim and say go cubs?

    that should smooth things over slick

  14. RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

    Sarcasm is always lost on the empty-headed!

  15. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    why don’t you try to insult people less and read above and actually prove your point that lead you to insulting the author..

    People posted stats above proving you wrong, why don’t you defend your opinion smart guy.

  16. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    07 was 4 years ago. Great, GREAT argument.

  17. RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

    And 2010 was last year genius. Carmona has a higher ceiling based on 07 and is trending better based on last years superior year in comparison to Shields lousy season! Why do you get sooo upset when I upstage you all the time? Go get some ice cream and relax!

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