Option Predictions: Starting Pitchers

Yesterday I made predictions for the 20 position players with contractual options on the horizon.  Today, it's time to tackle the 10 potential free agent starting pitchers with options this offseason.

  • Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: $15MM club option with a $1MM buyout.  There's a good case to be made that Carpenter is worth the $14MM net price of this option on a one-year deal.  He might have value to other teams at that price, but given his 10-and-5 rights I can't see the Cardinals exercising the option and then trading Carpenter.  The righty turns 37 in April, but I think the Cards could hammer out a two-year deal at a lower salary.  If they can't pull that off by early November or don't want to commit due to uncertainty around Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman, then I think the option will be declined.
  • Adam Wainwright, Cardinals: $10MM club option for '12, $12MM for '13.  These options must be decided at the same time, and no one expects Wainwright's February Tommy John surgery to prevent the Cardinals from exercising.
  • Aaron Cook, Rockies: $11MM mutual option with a $500K buyout.  The Rockies will certainly decline their side.
  • Ryan Dempster, Cubs: $14MM player option, no buyout.  The ball is in Dempster's court, and I think he'll exercise assuming a lower salary multiyear deal isn't agreed to first.
  • Zach Duke, Diamondbacks: $5.5MM club option with a $750K buyout.  With Duke moved to the bullpen in July, this will be declined.
  • Jon Garland, Dodgers: $8MM club option with a $500K buyout.  Shoulder surgery officially ended Garland's season in July, and this will be declined.
  • Aaron Harang, Padres: $5MM mutual option with a $500K buyout.  Harang certainly wants to stay in San Diego, and I'm leaning toward this being one of the rare mutual options that is exercised by both sides.
  • Paul Maholm, Pirates: $9.75MM club option with a $750K buyout.  Maholm's season ended in August with a shoulder strain.  The lefty posted a 3.66 ERA and 4.07 SIERA.  Interest appears mutual in an extension, but even if the shoulder issue is minor I see the Pirates declining this option.
  • Roy Oswalt, Phillies: $16MM mutual option with a $2MM buyout.  A condition of Oswalt's July 2010 trade to the Phillies was that his buyout would not be reduced whether it was the pitcher or the team declining.  Oswalt missed over a month with a back injury this year, and his numbers have been down.  Only Oswalt knows whether and where he'd prefer to pitch next year, but in November I think the Phillies will decline the option.  
  • C.C. Sabathia, Yankees: may opt out of remaining four years, $92MM.  There appears to be little doubt Sabathia will opt out.  The Yankees are still viewed as the favorite to sign him, but we don't know how much work needs to be done to find common ground.

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