While we’ve seen some general movement on the free-agent market, the top of the starting pitching class is still chock full of possibilities. Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb all figured to command significant contracts entering the winter. These players and their reps have to this point seemingly felt justified in continuing to maintain fairly high asking prices.
Whether or not some or all of these three veteran hurlers can land lengthy, high-AAV contracts will depend upon how the current multi-actor standoff resolves. Who blinks first: a player that decides it’s just time to get into camp or a team that feels it has to get a starter? Will a sudden injury or other development boost demand?
Even without any changes in the market situation, the current staring contest seems to offer plenty of different outcomes. Organizations will obviously feel hopeful of scoring a bargain after seeing some cut-rate prices on hitters. But these pitchers are surely still hoping for some northward bidding movement given the number of teams that still have an evident need.
As they say, it only takes one offer to lead to a big contract. So, I thought it’d be interesting to see whether the MLBTR readership has a favorite to drive the price among the teams still hunting for starters. Put another way: which of these organizations most needs to pony up some cash and land one of these free-agent starters?
(Links to Roster Resource depth charts.)
- Angels — If things work out, the Halos will have six talented hurlers all working out of the rotation. Even if that involves some tag-team disabled list action reminiscent of the cross-town Dodgers, it’s not hard to imagine the Angels getting a lot of good innings from their many risky but talented pitchers. That said, finishing off a fascinating offseason by adding a quality starter would not only enhance the outlook of the rotation but would allow the club to drop an arm into a bullpen that could also probably stand to be improved.
- Brewers — Milwaukee is trying to be targeted in adding around its young core and is justified in exercising some caution. But with Jimmy Nelson still a question mark, the back of the rotation is currently subject to an open competition. While the team has several pitchers with some degree of merit, it’s not a group you’d peg to be capable of chasing down the Cubs and Cards.
- Cardinals — Speaking of the Cards … many have suggested all winter long that St. Louis needs to add more, particularly in the rotation. There’s still plenty of talent on the staff, but most of the anticipated members come with fairly notable levels of risk (injury, age, experience, etc.).
- Mariners — While an early scare to Felix Hernandez may not be cause for concern, his recent track record and the lack of a clear number five starter arguably are. Seattle has long been viewed as a fringe possibility for a rotation upgrade, but some would say it ought to be in the thick of things.
- Nationals — Sure, the Nats could just utilize their internal possibilities (A.J. Cole, Erick Fedde, Edwin Jackson, Tom Milone) for a fifth starter and rotation depth, trusting that the trade deadline will offer a chance to shore up as needed. But this is a team that can’t afford any missteps as it tries to finally reach and advance into the postseason.
- Orioles — The O’s have filled two of their rotation openings and currently plan to compete the third. That’s a defensible strategy, perhaps, but the unit doesn’t inspire much confidence that Baltimore will be able to challenge the highly talented teams that paced the division last year. Another move could go a long way.
- Phillies — It’s hard to call it a need for the still-rebuilding Phils to land a significant starter. Then again, given the amount the front office has invested in short-term assets of late, and the amount spent on Carlos Santana and others this winter, perhaps there’s a case to be made that the organization really should be pushing the market to get a significant hurler.
- Rangers — Indications are that a big contract won’t be handed out and that the team will roll with some kind of six-man rotation unit. But it’s easy to see how a quality starter would transform the pitching staff by installing more good innings in the rotation and bumping other quality arms into the pen.
- Twins — Perhaps taking advantage of the collapse of the market for slugger Logan Morrison means the Twins won’t have as much cash to work with. On the other hand, you could argue that the addition of LoMo and others only creates an opportunity for a more significant investment to really pay off.
- Yankees — Hoping that Jordan Montgomery continues to progress is a perfectly reasonable strategy for filling out the rotation. And there are at least a few depth possibilities still floating around the organization, with a vast array of possibilities at the deadline. But expectations are extremely high in the Bronx and every win will count. Having added an affordable infield option, perhaps the Yanks can and should spend a bit more to finish off their staff.
So, which team really needs to add that big arm? (Link for app users.)
I’d say that Suter and Guerra both have a leg up on the rotation spots than Gallardo and Miley, and while the Crew definitely needs a starter, I feel a lot better about Anderson, Davies, Chacin, Guerra, Suter (with Jimmy eventually) than I do about what’s listed in this article.
No kidding. Suter, Guerra, and Woodruff are all probably ahead of Miley and Gallardo right now (With Anderson, Davies, and Chacin locked into the rotation). Neither of those guys has a guaranteed contract if they don’t make the big league club out of spring training, yet the “experts” keep saying they are going to be filling out rotation spots. Unless one of them blows them away in spring, I think one may make the roster as a long relief/spot start guy and the other gets his walking papers. I still think they cave and sign one of the remaining FAs though….
Counting on Chacin is foolish.
It’s not ideal, but it’s still better than counting on Gallardo or Miley at this point..
I have no faith in Guerra. If he winds up in the rotation , I think we are in trouble. He was terrible last year, even when he came back as a reliever, and now I see a lot of people excited by his winter ball stats, but I am doubtful
Don’t forget, he had a calf injury Opening Day last year and he never really seemed back to fully healthy with his mechanics on his bottom half after that. Lower body injuries can really mess with a starting pitcher, so if he’s back to 100% and mechanically sound he could turn it back around. I still prefer Suter and Woodruff, but could be interesting to see how Guerra performs.
Banking on any 4 of those is asking for trouble any way you slice it. At least Miley and Gallardo have experience which is why most would say they have a leg up. Guerra was a 31 year old rookie? Came out of nowhere, had a really good year and sucked last year. Suter could be fine, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make the rotation, but that #5 spot is likely to go to a more experienced player IMO. I don’t like the Brewers at all, but thought the Miley signing was a solid pickup for depth and spot starts. Gallardo and Guerra I have no faith in at all They need to sign someone or trade for someone before opening day.
I really didn’t mean to be declaring anything about the current back-end options and certainly should not have stated it so conclusively. I’ve revised the post.
Are you high? No way does guerra make the rotation. By opening day… Anderson, Davies, suter, woodruff and gallardo and chaclin
Brewers win their Division with Arrierta
Cactus League maybe.
Cactus League is bigger than the NL Central dude. And most of the NL Central is part of it.
It’s also an exhibition league where stats, records, standings, wins, losses, etc. mean exactly nothing.
Phillies as they need a veteran presence for all those young pitchers.
having a vet would be nice- but the Brewers are acting like a team trying to contend this year and desperately need more starting pitching.
Arrieta won’t last the next contract he signs. His terrible mechanics makes him a prime candidate for a major injury. Last year’s performance was foreshadowing that.
I know Boras et al constantly trumpet Arrieta’s workout regimen and what extraordinary shape he’s in, but he’s only as solid as his rotator cuff and UCL which are in tremendous peril with every delivery. Teams know if they give him 5 or 6 years, one of those will be lost to surgery & rehab, and another year to readjustment.
Haha, they don’t even catch the Cards w/ Arrieta, no chance they beat out the Cubs over 162, even IF the Cubs sleepwalk through the first half again (not likely)
I voted other. The reds
Yankees should sign Jake Arrieta to a 100 year 200 million dollar contract. That way it only adds 2 million dollars towards the luxury tax cap. Do it now Cashman!!
Sad thing is, NYM did something similar with Bonilla.
Congrats this is the 100th time you’ve posted this nonsense.
I do apologize. But it’s a known secret that Cashman and other executives read this site. Hoping he obliges!
Arrieta at 3 years most — sure. Guy turns 32 less than 1 month And the decline, last 3 years, Even lost velocity (all pitches) has been steep (- 2MPH) But Hey, if CC can learn to pitch at 89… maybe Arrieta… (If Velocity, decline continues..)
But back to your poll question. Lynn to Cardinals, Arrieta to Brewers (Cheap .. hopefully) Cobb is too difficult to predict…
The ones who need SP the most, would be
1) Brewers to complete their super offseason (Seems like Arrieta’s only suitor at this point)
2) Angels, because Billy Eppler’s magic off-season, and aren’t they utilizing a six-man rotation?
3) and Mariners
I honestly think these 3 are in position to spend on the Premium SP — and surprise.
Even though other clubs, might have more glaring needs at SP!
I picked Mariners at 3 because Jerry’s contract expires 2018… He has an Ace up his sleeve. He has to…. Maybe he signs, all 3 (Joke) but Dee Gordon can’t be his blockbuster. Just think Jerry’s the one who is in position to take advantage of these 3 SP’s (depressed) markets.
Jerry DiPoto and the Mariners missed out on Ohtani but the problem now is getting the money. Also, their newfound need of a 1B due to injuries might lead them to signing LoMo instead of a SP.
LoMo signed with the Twins a couple days ago !
Things can go south for my Yankees in a hurry. If CC falls off the cliff and Jordan Montgomery struggles then the Yanks could really be looking to add a SP if they don’t think Adams and Sheffield are ready to be called up.
If they want to add a starter they’ll be far better ones to be had through trade at the deadline.
But that requires trading prospects. Why trade prospects when you can spend money?
brewers good get arrierta
I’ve said from the start of the offseason that Arrieta to Colorado could be interesting because their rotation is filled of young guys and a veteran could be beneficial. They have bolstered their bullpen and their offense doesn’t need to be touched.
if nothing else watching arrietta pursue the mlb record for dingers given up in a season could be interesting to follow. never mind, i see bert blylevan gave up 50 and 46 in consecutive seasons, so that record is probably safe.
Like last year, Jays rotation looks good on paper, but age and health will likely get them this year. Sanchez to the pen after 2 months, Estrada to Dl, and happ regresses.
Garcia is a good add but only a 150 innings a year guy now. maybe 9 wins.
Where will the starting rotation wins come from in 2018 for the Blue Jays?
It seems like Shapiro is content with the rotation as it is despite the fact that everything needs to go just right (health, performances, luck) for TOR to contend. I think he’s ready to deal veteran pitchers, Donaldson, Martin, etc at the deadline if they’re out of contention to kick off the rebuild.
Trading for Yelich and signing Cain without addressing the rotation is like building a really nice, well furnished house with no roof.
Brewers (tied with the Twins).
That doesn’t mean either should jump on top of the Arrieta landmine. But one should sign Lynn and the other Cobb.
angels did the same thing outside of ohtani, who is no sure thing…
Why talk about the Brewers rotation without mentioning Woodruff, Suter, Guerra and Wilkerson? Is it just because they dont have as much big league service time as Miley and Gallardo?
Things look much less gloomy when you talk about finding 2 servicable starters out of that group of 6, and that you only need one of them until Nelson comes back in June. If they can stay in the playoff race they can see which starters become available as the trade deadline approaches and pick up someone that can help put them over the top on the postseason.
So you’d rather give up assets at the trade deadline than sign one of these guys now? Yeah they will cost a pick, but a trade will cost a prospect that is much further along and a more known quantity.
You’d have to give up a better asset, but you may also get a better pitcher on a better contract. All 3 of these guys want too much money as all come with question marks.
Sometimes in trades, bidding wars happen for SP, at the deadline,,
Who’s competing with you to sign Arrieta? Lynn? Cobb? (Crickets)
Feels like Arrieta would be lucky to get $100M at this point, (which should surprise no one if he does) Cobb’s injury prone, and 179IP this year was a career high. Lynn’s admittedly my favorite but I still see him as the only FA SP re-signing. (Because Cubs signed Darvish, and Rays in a full-on fire sale — So No re-signing Arrieta/Cobb.)
All in all, this seems to be the best off-season to get SP, albeit flawed ones, at real value deals, because of the special nature of this off-season, which is why I see small-market teams in win-now mode, like the Brewers, etc. most likely to sign the remaining premium FA SP’s.
I forgot to add the Twins to my list before… Maybe… A+ for stealing LoMo. Maybe they “steal” one of these premium FA SP
Totally agree about deals available with these starters if Cobb or Lynn will be good for a couple seasons. If you get one of those two for 3/$45M that could look like a nice deal after next offseason. I see arrietta taking a 1 year deal.
Twins did ok with Morrison but if sano can’t improve at 3b or is slow to return to the field after this knee then Morrison didn’t see the field. I’d give they signing a B based on that.
Money is also an asset. It may be more cost effective to trade for an ace then sign FA replacements for what you traded than to just sign a FA #2 sp
Don’t forget, they could always return Hader to the rotation.
If you look at the stats for pitchers who return from Nelson’s injury, even those who have gone on to be successful, they were very rough in their first year back. So we cannot count on Nelson as a ability in 2018. Best we can hope for is a return to form in 2019
It was lazy on my part. Edited.
I don’t think it will actually happen, but I think the Rockies need one of these guys more than anyone. The young starters performed very well last year, but faded down the stretch. Not to mention that all of the young guys were relatively healthy last season. I don’t think they can afford Arrieta, but getting Lynn or especially Cobb could work out well for them. Even if it costs a draft pick. Heck, they just spent the #11 pick on Ian Desmond. I think they could afford to give up a pick in the 40s for a good starter.
Of course I went Brewers because I’m a Brewers fan, but I keep hearing that the longer we wait, the less chance there is to sign one of the top guys. I’ll believe the Brewers are not making a signing as soon as all 3 sign elsewhere. Also I don’t think Miley or even Gallardo are favorites to make the rotation. It’s possible of course, but I’d probably predict Woodruff and Suter to make it ahead of them at this point.
It’s the twins. Brewers have many options for 2 spots but really 1 because how many times will they need a 5th starter before Nelson comes back? If the four prospects, woodruff, burnes, wilkerson, ortiz, don’t work out you make a trade.
Twins have up and down berrios, odorrizi and a hurt Santana. After this they have nothing, absolutely nothing. That team could easily miss their projected wins by more than any other teams if things don’t break right for them.
This is where I see them going
Nationals Jake Arrieta
brewers Alex Cobb
Phillies Lance Lyne
These predictions seem really plausible.
Isn’t like 40% of the Nationals roster Boras clients?
Cobb to Milwaukee makes sense. Maybe he signs a 4-year deal with a player option after 2 years to prove he can stay healthy and go back on the market.
Phillies need some kind of pitching to lure in more FAs next winter.
The Angels rotation consists of
– 2 guys who basically haven’t pitched the last two seasons (Richards and Heaney)
– 1 guy who has never pitched in the US and has already shown the scouting reports about a fast but flat FB was completely true (Ohtani)
– 2 guys that look like they are most likely middle of rotation types if they are even able to stay healthy (Skaggs and Shoemaker)
– 2 guys off fluke positive seasons one would expect to likely balance out (Bridwell and Ramirez)
This is the rotation I vote for as there are just no sure things here to be found. Just as easily as it all playing out okay, this could be one of the worst rotations
The Mariners seem to be in a position where they’ll NEED to sign one of these guys. Optimal candidate is Lynn since he’s a proven innings eater. Arrieta will be expensive, but worthwhile in the short term. M’s should stay away from Cobb since they already have a stockpile of SPs with injury issues.
The Red Sox right now have Sale, Price, Pomeranz, and Porcello. Rodriguez and Wright will not be available to start the year. They have little depth outside of Johnson who is still largely unproven.
If Price’s elbow were to start barking again they would really be in trouble. I would think they should be looking at a free agent since they are over the cap already.
Wright is still not available? Has he even pitched in the last year and a half? I’d hate to see them blow a fortune on Arrieta, but Lynn would at least be a stabilizer in the rotation who would eat some quality innings.
I’m surprised the Pirates weren’t listed, or are they just not considered a real team anymore?
They are rebuilding, they’re also a small market team. It would make no sense to spend big on a FA pitcher.
Yankees should stick to the plan. Get under the cap…and what that probably means is leaving enough room under the cap so they can make trades later this season, as may be required. Arrietta would bust the cap now. Lynn and Cobb would get them very close
Exactly and those last two don’t exactly make the Yanks better.
Don’t think I saw one commenter who can spell Arietta correctly! Regardless, whoever said Brewers will win division with Arietta needs to leave now. Almost to a man, Brewers got career years. Won’t happen again & if Arietta joins, his performance will take them down even faster!
I’ll believe the Brewers sign one of the starters only when it happens. It’s locking up long-term money for a short-term problem.
The issue with the Cardinals is two-fold. First of all, they aren’t interested in moving any of their current rotation members to the bullpen. Second, signing a starter to a long-term deal would block both Reyes and Flaherty both this year and likely also next year when only one of the current starters (Wainwright) will be a free agent. Once both Wacha and Mikolas hit free agency in two years, then they’ll probably open up their checkbook for a free agent starter (among other needs at that time).
Although, I could see them bringing back Lynn on a one year contract if it gets to the point that he’s desperate enough to take such a deal.
I think that only teams that are going to be contenders should go after these four pitchers. The Brewers, Cards, Angels, Nats, or Twins. The rest would be wasting their money .
Mariners were in the playoff hunt until last week and a half of the regular season, last year.
I really think a SP, would help put them over the hump, and help them make the playoffs.