Starters Who Could Be Extended Before Free Agency

Last year, Brett Myers, Ted Lilly, and Livan Hernandez signed extensions before hitting free agency.  So far this year, the big name is Chris Carpenter, who will reportedly sit out the free agent market with a two-year deal in hand.  Here are some other impending free agent starters I could see signing before open bidding begins.

  • Mark Buehrle, White Sox.  Based on the many reports on this topic, Buehrle's preferences appear to be A) the White Sox B) the Cardinals or C) retirement.  With the Cardinals' rotation looking full, the smart money is on a new deal with Chicago.
  • Aaron Harang, Padres.  It's well known that Harang wants to remain in his native San Diego.  I've mentioned that I could see both sides exercising his $5MM mutual option, though the two parties could work something out prior.
  • Rich Harden, Athletics.  As I mentioned last week, a one-year deal in the $4.5MM range could work for Harden, who wants to remain in Oakland.
  • Livan Hernandez, Nationals.  Hernandez has expressed his desire to stay with the Nationals, and there's be little harm in another $1MM deal.
  • Chien-Ming Wang, Nationals.  Wang's strikeout rate this year in eight starts is dangerously low, but there still appears to be something left in the tank post-shoulder surgery.  He wants to return, and may give a discount since he'll have earned $4MM over 2010-11 from the Nats for 50-odd big league innings.  It might be a stretch for the Nationals to sign both Hernandez and Wang to Major League deals though.
  • Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers.  Interest in a new contract seems mutual, assuming Kuroda does not return to Japan.  Kuroda, owner of a 3.25 ERA, might be a tough sell at $12MM again for the Dodgers because of raises due to Lilly ($4.5MM), Chad Billingsley ($2.725MM), and Clayton Kershaw (potentially around $6MM).
  • Paul Maholm, Pirates.  Maholm's season ended on a sour note with a shoulder injury, but interest in a new contract is mutual and the price might be reasonable.
  • Roy Oswalt, Phillies.  Assuming Oswalt's back is up to it and he wants to pitch again, perhaps he'd like to remain in Philly.  Like Carpenter, the option price is too high, but a new deal could be reached.
  • Tim Wakefield, Red Sox.  I expect Boston or retirement for Wakefield.  The decision to retire would be presumably be much easier if he gets his 200th win this month.
  • This isn't a glamorous bunch, but top pitchers such as C.C. Sabathia and C.J. Wilson could re-sign quickly as well.  Throw in a few extensions from the list above, and the market for free agent starters could be extremely thin.

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