The Pirates, Royals, Orioles, Brewers, and Rays have checked in on free agent starter Mat Latos, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Latos, he adds, is probably looking at one-year deal to re-establish his value.
One MLB official opined to Crasnick that Latos is “right up [Orioles GM] Dan Duquette’s alley,” (link). One also has to imagine that Latos makes a lot of sense for the Pirates, who have built a reputation as a team that can help pitchers restore their value. There have been questions about Latos’ makeup, Crasnick notes, but he also still has some upside at the age of 28.
All five of these teams are likely weighing Latos as a less costly commitment than many of the other top available starters at this juncture of the offseason. Veteran Scott Kazmir figures to net a nice payday on a multi-year deal and the Royals, who are said to have interest, could pivot to a guy like Latos if Kazmir does not fit in their budget. The other top hurlers left – Yovani Gallardo, Ian Kennedy, and Wei-Yin Chen – would all require draft pick compensation from teams. Back in November, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted that Latos might get a one-year, $12MM deal and he pegged the Pirates as his landing spot.
A few years ago, Latos seemed in line for a monster free agent deal upon hitting the market at age 28. However, injuries and other struggles have drastically changed things. In 2015, he battled minor injuries but showed promise in his 16 starts with the Marlins this year before joining the Dodgers via trade. Latos struggled in six outings for the Dodgers and earned his release, hooking on with the Angels in late September to make a few relief appearances. In his 2015 stint with the Marlins, Latos pitched to a 4.48 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 88 1/3 innings. His ERA wasn’t stellar, but advanced ERA estimators viewed him more as a mid-3.00 ERA contributor.