Here are the latest starting pitcher rumors in advance of the winter meetings, courtesy of ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
- Johnny Cueto is the top pitcher on the free agent market, but his earning potential remains unclear. Some insiders are surprised he turned down the six-year, $120MM offer previously extended by the Diamondbacks. As Stark points out, Cueto is sixth among active starters with a 3.30 ERA so he would seemingly justify a serious investment. However, concerns about his health and late-season struggles have executives worried. Per one source, “If you told me that, within 24 hours [of arriving at the meetings], all of the big free-agent starters would be signed except Cueto, I’d believe it.“
- Former Reds starter Mike Leake, 28, is in demand largely because he’s one of the youngest pitchers on the market. He has a history of durability, but that comes with league average production on the mound. However, Leake is also well-above average as a hitter, boosting his value to NL clubs. Stark expects a “stampede” in Leake’s direction during the Winter Meetings. One source believes Leake will be overpaid by an exuberant market.
- The Braves would jump on a Shelby Miller trade if they received the right controllable position player. To date, Atlanta has focused on particularly high value targets like Joc Pederson, A.J. Pollock, and Jorge Soler. As you might guess, few if any teams are eager to trade established, high quality young hitters for pitching. The Braves have shown no sign of backing down on their asking price.
- We’ve heard a lot about the Indians pitching depth – namely Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer. Stark and his sources think the club will stand pat this winter. “You’re just shifting around your problems,” said one contact in regard to a hypothetical pitcher-for-hitter swap. The team’s strength is built around their rotation. They may be best served by simply maximizing that advantage.
- With the exception of Chris Archer, the Rays are shopping all of their starting pitchers. That’s par for the course for the Rays who historically have been open to trading anybody to improve the long term outlook of the franchise. Stark specifically mentions Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore as available, but we can probably presume that Erasmo Ramirez is being floated too.
- Stark offers plenty of more notes in his column including the latest on the Yankees, Padres, and the remaining buyers for pitching.