Now that Carlos Zambrano is officially an $18MM a year pitcher – and the open market would’ve given him more – the future of other top starters is the hot topic of discussion. Even at a discount Zambrano’s average annual value is the highest ever for a pitcher’s multiyear contract.
We’ll start with the best of the best, Johan Santana. We might as well get used to the Johan speculation, because it’s going to be filling newspapers until he signs his next contract. As much as he’d like to stay, how can the Twins possibly sign him if the starting point is 5/90? The Seattle Times’ Larry Stone dreams on the possibility of a Johan/Felix combo, but of course it’d require gutting the farm system (and Santana waiving his no-trade clause). Not enough talk about his NTC. Anyway, let’s face it. Santana gives the Twins the best chance to win in 2008, so they’ll keep him through the end of his contract. Minnesota’s staff looks excellent for ’08 with Francisco Liriano returning.
C.C. Sabathia also reaches free agency after the ’08 season. The Indians haven’t begun active negotiations with him, and Paul Hoynes believes he could only fit into the payroll if the Tribe goes deep into the postseason this year. Like Santana, the Indians would keep Sabathia through the end of his contract to try to win next year. Jon Garland, Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez, and Ben Sheets are the other big names in the 2008-09 class.
Jake Peavy knows he won’t get a fair offer from the Padres. He’ll be a free agent after ’09. Erik Bedard, Kelvim Escobar, John Lackey, and Brad Penny are all set to join his free agent class. I can see Bedard and Penny hitting the open market, while the Halo hurlers might sign extensions.