Potentially Available Starting Pitchers

Starting pitching is in demand every summer. And as fans of Doug Fister and the 2011 Tigers know, it’s not always the biggest names that have the biggest second-half impact. 

Teams are now navigating the trade deadline under a new collective bargaining agreement, and for the first time in decades clubs cannot obtain compensatory draft picks if players acquired midseason depart as free agents. There’s been some speculation that this rule change will mean lowered asking prices for top players. After all, why would a team surrender top prospects for a player who could disappear without a trace a few months later?

It’s a fair question, but there’s still reason to believe top players will cost top prospects. Imagine for a minute that you’re a general manager calling up Doug Melvin of the Brewers about Zack Greinke. You say ‘Hi Doug, we’d like to acquire your ace right-hander, but the CBA changed so we’re going to scale our proposal back and offer a couple B and C prospects. That OK?’ Melvin could then say ‘Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll wait it out and get a top draft pick next year. Good luck having replacement level pitchers in your rotation for the next two months.’

Within a few weeks we’ll know how the trade deadline will affect the value of top pitchers. Until then, here’s a look at which pitchers will — or might — be available between now and the upcoming trade deadline:

  • Cole Hamels, Phillies – Hamels is one of the best pitchers in the game. Though he's just 28, he has a seven-year history of success in a major market, including a World Series MVP award. Hamels has the potential to improve some team’s rotation dramatically and demand will reflect that upside if the Phillies make him available.
  • Zack Greinke, Brewers – If you go by the numbers, Greinke's just as desirable as Greinke. However, some teams question Greinke's ability to thrive in the spotlight. Still, the right-hander has the potential to make a team’s front office look really smart.
  • Matt Garza, Cubs – Garza's 4.32 ERA is pretty ordinary, but he’s still a tremendously valuable trade chip for the Cubs. Unlike Greinke and Hamels, Garza's controllable through 2013. He has succeeded in the AL East and his peripheral stats remain strong.
  • Wandy Rodriguez, Astros – Rodriguez has a 3.38 ERA through 18 starts, but his salary could be an obstacle for some clubs. The left-hander will earn $10MM in 2012, $13MM in 2013 and, potentially, $13MM in 2014 (the team’s ’14 option becomes a player option following a trade). However, the Astros showed that they’re willing to absorb salary if it means a chance at obtaining better prospects when they dealt Carlos Lee to the Marlins.
  • Ryan Dempster, Cubs – Dempster, who has an NL-best 1.99 ERA, should draw lots of interest as a mid-season trade candidate. The Cubs seem willing to absorb some of his $14MM salary to facilitate a deal.
  • Shaun Marcum, Brewers – Marcum, now on the disabled list, is on track to hit free agency this offseason. He has a 3.39 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 through 82 1/3 innings in Milwaukee.
  • Paul Maholm, Cubs – Maholm could appeal to teams looking to add back-of-the-rotation depth. His contract includes a $6.5MM option for 2013.
  • Randy Wolf, Brewers – Wolf's trade value would be limited by his 5.80 ERA and $9.5MM salary.
  • Jeremy Guthrie, Rockies – Guthrie’s trade value may be at an all-time low following three disappointing months in Denver.
  • Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard could be available, but there’s no reason for the Padres to trade such controllable, young arms without obtaining a remarkable package in return.
  • Jason Vargas, Mariners – Vargas is similar pitcher to Wandy Rodriguez, but he's younger and less expensive, as I explained last month.
  • Kevin Millwood, Mariners – Millwood, 37, has a 3.69 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 90 1/3 innings with Seattle. He earns $1MM and will hit free agency after the season.
  • Despite the annual speculation surrounding Felix Hernandez, there’s no indication he’s truly available.
  • Bartolo Colon, Athletics – Colon, 39, is the player the Athletics are most likely to trade, according to Ken Rosenthal. The righty has a 3.80 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 through 104 1/3 innings.
  • Brandon McCarthy, Athletics – The A's would reportedly consider offers for McCarthy, a prospective free agent who has a 2.54 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. He's now on the 15-day disabled list.
  • Brian Matusz, Orioles – Matusz appears to be a trade chip for the Orioles. He's now in the minor leagues after posting a 5.42 ERA through 16 starts in Baltimore.
  • Francisco Liriano, Twins – Liriano, a free agent after the season, has pitched well since returning to the rotation. Still, clubs are wary of trading for the left-hander, whose walk rate remains high.

MLBTR has previewed the trade market by looking at potentially available catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstops and outfielders. Left-handed relievers are up next.

54 Responses to Potentially Available Starting Pitchers Leave a Reply

  1. JimnJan 3 years ago

    Considering the (lack of) salary implications, Liriano would be a good pick up. That said, I hope the Twins keep him and give him another contract. He still has good stuff, if he can get it all together again. The flashes of greatness aren’t enough anymore.

    • Rezonator 3 years ago

      God forbid the Twins waste more money giving Liriano a contract.

    • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 3 years ago

       The Twins should be dealing Liriano.  They have been unable to consistently get the best out of him and should finally admit it and move on.  It would be the merciful thing to do for both parties.

    • bigpat 3 years ago

       I think they have to just let him go. Even though he is pitching well right now, he’s been bad for too many stretches and it would probably be best if they just move on. It wouldn’t be wise to spend all that money on him.

      • Matt Beam 3 years ago

        As a Pirates fan, I’d like a low cost improvement over Correa or Bedard as it’s probably too much to expect good things from both in the 2nd half… Bartolo Colon could fit the bill for very little cost

  2. Bill Tull 3 years ago

    Just a little proofreading issue but I’m pretty sure Grienke’s just as desirable as Grienke

    • SpfldCynic 3 years ago

      I don’t know…Zack is prone to existential crisis

    • Devern Hansack 3 years ago

      It’s logical, as it’s a tautology.

    • Tim McCollum 3 years ago

      which Greinke’s ability to thrive in the spotlight is being questioned. The Greinke speculated as a trade target or the Greinke that is just as desireable as Greinke?

  3. DWolfe 3 years ago

    Isn’t it illegal for you to be eavesdropping on Dan Duquette’s phone calls?

  4. AaronAngst 3 years ago

    I’ve been expressing these same sentiments for a couple of weeks now. The fans of teams in “Buy Mode” are going to be in for a rude awakening when it takes more than some bodies off of the ol’ scrap heap to acquire an ace… even if it is, for all intents and purposes, just a “rental.” If you want a shot at winning it all, that hotshot prospect down in Double A certainly isn’t going to get you there.

    • Natsfan89 3 years ago

      And fans of teams in “Sell Mode” need to realize that with the changes in the CBA teams are going to be more hesitant part with top prospects for rentals because if the guy bolts at the end of the year and they don’t win it all they’re left with a depleted farm system, no world series ring, and no compensatory draft picks.

      • AaronAngst 3 years ago

        Buying teams don’t have leverage. Nothing in life is guaranteed – top rated prospects become flops, and serious contenders get swept in four games. If your team is a legitimate contender, and you want to increase the odds, you make the deal happen. I like a handful of the Brewers pitching prospects, but I wouldn’t bat an eye at dealing a couple of them, plus others, for Cole Hamels, given Milwaukee had a legitimate shot at winning it all. If the deal offered is less valuable than the compensation picks, there is no motivation to make a move…

      • Andrew Cartwright 3 years ago

         I agree.  And that is why Matt Garza is extremely valuable.  Not only he is a solid #2 pitcher with 1.5 years of control at a decent rate, is AL East and playoff tested, but he will also allow the team that trades for him to recoup a lot of value through compensatory picks following next season.

  5. DerekJeterDan 3 years ago

    Blanton and Saunders are two likely candidates who could be added to the list.

  6. bannister19 3 years ago

    Can’t forget J-San if someone is willing to risk it. Though, I guess he’s more of a release candidate at this point. Someone in the NL might bite at him though.

    • Jason_F 3 years ago

      Am I the only one that thinks Jonathan Sanchez has done nothing to earn a moniker like “J-San”?  It took me a bit to even figure out who you were referring to.  Aren’t we going a little too far with these lazy nicknames?

      • bannister19 3 years ago

        I’ve called him that for the last 5 years and I’ve been hearing the same sh.t about it the whole time. I don’t know, that’s just what I call him. I Call Carlos C-San.

        Though, Anibal is not A-San.

    • Sage 3 years ago

       It took me reading someone else’s response to this to realize you weren’t talking about Johan Santana… Gotta be careful about nicknames you give to players, make sure other people can figure out who it is haha

      That said, I think Jonathan Sanchez is more of an August waiver deal candidate than a trade deadline deal candidate. Somebody might be willing to take a flier on him for a low-level prospect, but not much more at this point.

      •  The Nats might actually be interested as  a “better than John Lannan” Strasburg replacement.

  7. patburn 3 years ago

    Hamels is a very good pitcher, but I wouldn’t say 7 years of success (ie the year after the World Championship). 

  8. BustBigDieHappy 3 years ago

    I could see the Yankees parting with Freddy Garcia if/when CC and Andy come back. Phelps has been great and Garcia could fit into the back end of rotation in Florida and the two LA teams.  

    • CHendershott 3 years ago

      He’d be one more former White Sox heading down to Miami to end his career on Ozzie’s Marlins lol

  9. Looking over Shaun Marcum’s number, he’s a pretty solid pitcher and maybe, just maybe the Orioles can afford him. We can’t afford Greinke, but we might be able to get Marcum without emptying the cupboard. The only problem with Marcum is as solid as he was in the regular season, he just wasn’t very good in the playoffs in 2011.

    As for Liriano’s walk rate, meh. Even though when I have watched him, he does get into a lot of jams, but he has gotten out of them as well. I mean Volquez still leads the league in walks or at least he leads the NL. No mention was made of that.

    Anyway, my suggestion box for Duquette has a new member in Marcum.
    However, I would be very happy if the O’s got Liriano and Colon.
    But why not try for Marcum?

    • AaronAngst 3 years ago

      Marcum probably won’t be on the mound in a Major League game until August… I don’t think he’s going to do you any good. I’m bummed because he’d be worth a decent return if he were healthy.

    • OrioleMagicCharm 3 years ago

      prefer liriano + colon

      can teams trade draft picks like nfl?

      i’d give twins #5 + #10 for liriano

      a’s #39 for colon

  10. Schoop and one of Baltimore’s once prized arms that appear to be aaaa could probably get Marcum, provided he returns from the break strong.

  11. Cron, Richards, and that aa kid that is playing second but can possibly be a ss will be the package that gets greinke .

    • cookmeister 3 years ago

      Too much.  Rental player, no compensation, i can’t see it happening.  If he signs an extension before, then maybe, but i still think it might be too much.  Replace Cron with somebody else.

  12. MadmanTX 3 years ago

    The Rangers would probably make Feldman and Holland available too via trade if they acquire Greinke or Hamels. If everybody comes back from the DL, 1-2 pitchers will have to be moved.

    • Not sure how many people would be enticed by Feldman (though he has proven to be a good long man) and Holland is under a really club friendly contract that he just signed.  Hard to see the Rangers give up on him this fast.  Though the return, in theory, would/should be pretty great (see BJ Upton).  

  13. BlueSkyLA
    BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    Of course the GMs aren’t going to have that conversation. They don’t need to have that conversation, since they both understand the rules and how they’ve changed. The trade deadline offers simply aren’t going to come in quite as high as they did before.

  14. What was the point of this new rule where you cant get draft compensation. it really doesn’t benefit anyone

    • It benefits the player, as teams wont be hesitant to sign players when they dont cost draft picks.

  15. Jeff Snedden 3 years ago

    C’mon Neil Huntington – get on the phone with the Cubs and get Paul Maholm back in the Pirates uniform.  He should have been here all along, and he would look GREAT in that rotation spot where Bedard is sandbagging the entire team.  As good as the Bucs have been, they might have the best record in baseball if it wasn’t for Bedard.  Maholm isn’t going to set the world on fire, but he would pitch his heart out for a winning Pirates team.  Offer up a AAA starter and get him back!

  16. Understand Dice-K can be had for a Rookie Leaguer and $10

  17. PghSportsfan66 3 years ago

    Owens, Locke, and Wilson are probably better than Maholm at this point and they’d cost $450k each.

  18. Brian Matusz??? To pitch batting practice maybe.

  19. What do you guys think about these possible trades for greinke
    3B Mike Olt
    SP Derrick Holland
    SP Roman Mendez
    SS Luis Sardinas

    SS Andrelton Simmons
    SP Randall Delgado
    P   Bill Bulluck
    OF Mycal Jones

    SS Jean Segura
    OF Jason Bourjos
    3B Kaleb Cowart
    SP Nick Mutz

    SS Manny Muchado
    P   Mike Right
    P   Zach Davies

    I could be totaly off base with these trades but if I were the brewers if I didn’t get something around these trades I would just keep him and maybe resign him or get compensation picks for him.

    • Robert Edward Lairmore 3 years ago

      You’re assuming Greinke signs an extension with the new club as apart of these proposed trades, right?

      As a Braves fan, I really doubt they’d trade Simmons at this point.

    • Braves:

      Simmons is the short stop of the future for Atlanta.  Going nowhere.  Second to that, he’s on the DL – i don’t think you can trade players while they are on the DL (i think you can agree to it, but deal isn’t final until player is activated).  But the DL thing is fairly irrelevant because Braves are keeping him.
      I believe Mike Minor or Julio Tehearan is traded before Delgado.  Delgado, to me, is more like Brandon Beachy.

    • Scott Brewer 3 years ago

      the Rangers will not be trading Mike Olt. The Braves will not be trading Simmons as he’s their shortstop of the future. Angels will not trade Kaleb Cowart 3B of future.. who’s Jason Bourjos? (peter bourjos) I dont think he’s a necessity in Milwaukee. Orioles will not be trading Manny Mochado shortstop of the future.

      Only shortstop avvailable in these names is Jean Segura which if the Angels dealt for Zack Greinke he will for sure be in the trade.

      The compensation picks have changed and I think teams arent getting much back for losing there players in free agency.

      I think the top team to get Zack Greinke are the Angels right no and a trade would look something like this:

      SS Jean Segura
      RP Kevin Jepsen
      RP Daniel Tillman

    • Assuming Greinke agrees to an extension. 

      Braves get:

      Brewers get:
      JR Graham 


      M. Jones/ Spruill

      Don’t know if Brewers are looking strictly pitching as their MLB ready choices, or position players as well.

      • so the brewers give up their ace and a tradeable relief pitcher and in return get two very inconsistent pitchers (borderline AAAA) and then two no name prospects? ill pass.

        no way that Greinke goes to Atlanta unless a deal includes Teheran or Simmons 

        • fuster 3 years ago

          You seem to forget that the Brewers are only going to trade Greinke if they can’t get him to sign….which means that Greinke really has very little value for them as the season is half over and the Brewers ain’t going to the post-season.

          Therefore the Brewers aren’t in a position to demand …and get…all that much unless some kind of bidding war breaks out among multiple suitors…and that’s fairly unlikely.

    • fuster 3 years ago

      I think that you’re expecting a bit much and when you say an extension, you must mean an extension that the new team thinks to be at a bit of a discount… assuming that much, the Angels might well bite.

  20. yeah with an extension sorry i forgot to mention that but  I do beleive extention or not the brewers aren’t going to trade greinke without geting some kind of ss prospect they already have descent pithching prospects. Also I don’t know why I put jason instead of peter my bad.

  21. petg102 3 years ago

    I hope the Jays trade for a guy like Collmenter. He’s shown he can start for any team with the way he’s played lately. I’d give them a top prospect like the Cuban shortstop or outfielders Snyder or Gomes if they’ll take any of them.

  22. erm016 3 years ago

    I’d roll the dice on Grienke. Especially in Atlanta. 

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