We ran through some of the remaining sources of offensive power yesterday. Today, we’ll do the same for rotation pieces. There are not all that many established starters left on the market, but there are still a handful who stand out as plausible candidates to gobble up some frames without costing much for an acquiring team. (Jeremy Hellickson would’ve been included here had he not agreed to terms with the Nats this morning.) As before, we’ll be ignoring those players who MLBTR predicted to secure multi-year deals entering the winter (e.g. Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez).
Presented in order of 2018 innings pitched…
James Shields: He topped 200 frames for the tenth time in 2018, so teams looking for volume will have to place Shields on the top of their value list. True, the results (4.53 ERA) and peripherals (6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.5 HR/9, 35.2% GB rate) weren’t exciting, but Shields is also a respected staff member who’d be valued for his positive influence on teammates. For the right organization, he’s a viable innings eater.
Bartolo Colon: Yep, he’s back — or at least he hopes to be. Home runs were a big problem last year for Big Sexy, but he still racked up 146 1/3 frames on the year for the Rangers. As with Shields, there won’t likely be much interest from contenders, but other teams that are thin on upper-level pitching depth could look to Colon as a cheap source of innings.
Clay Buchholz: It’s quite a different story for the 34-year-old Buchholz, who had a nice turnaround campaign before it was cut short by yet another injury. Organizations that are interested in building waves of talented arms, whether or not they come with health concerns, will certainly be intrigued by Buchholz, even if his peripherals (7.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9, 42.6% GB rate) didn’t quite support the sparkling 2.01 ERA he carried through 98 1/3 innings last year in Arizona.
Yovani Gallardo: Though he made it through 94 1/3 innings, the outcomes weren’t pretty for Gallardo. Memories of his days as a sturdy mid-rotation starter are long faded, though perhaps there’s reason to believe in at least some amount of positive regression. Gallardo’s 6.39 ERA in 2018 was caused in some part by a low 64.5% strand rate. Of course, ERA estimators still valued his contributions in the low-5.00 realm, so there’s not a ton of room for optimism.
Edwin Jackson: Jackson ran up a productive ERA in about a half-season of work as a key member of Oakland’s patchwork rotation. But the spread in this case between his ERA (3.33) and ERA estimators (4.65 FIP, 4.88 xFIP, 4.98 SIERA) is significant. Jackson is still averaging better than 93 mph on his heater, but he likely won’t benefit again from a .240 batting average on balls in play from opposing hitters.
Brett Anderson: Some will be surprised to learn that Anderson only celebrated his 31st birthday earlier this month. The lefty debuted as a 21-year-old and has had a tumultuous career, but he put forth a solid effort in 80 1/3 frames with the A’s in ’18. Anderson registered a 55.6 percent grounder rate and notched a career-best 1.46 BB/9. He doesn’t miss many bats and has a long injury history, but the southpaw’s knack for keeping the ball on the ground and his typically low walk rates could be appealing for a team seeking depth rather than a candidate to make 30 starts.
Doug Fister: A knee injury wrecked Fister’s 2018 season, but the righty displayed his typical penchant for keeping the ball on the ground (50.4 percent) and avoiding free passes (2.5 BB/9). Fister managed a 4.50 ERA in 66 innings — nearly half of which came at the launching pad that is Globe Life Park in Arlington. It’s an extraordinarily small sample, to be sure, but the righty did notch a 2.82 ERA and 4.14 FIP in 35 2/3 innings on the road. As far as depth options go, clubs could do far worse than the 35-year-old veteran.
Ervin Santana: Only 10 pitchers threw more innings than Santana between the 2016-17 seasons, but an injured tendon in his pitching hand that required surgery last offseason more or less wiped out his entire 2018 campaign. It’s perhaps heartening that the injury wasn’t specific to the his elbow or shoulder. Santana’s results in 24 2/3 innings were awful (22 runs on 31 hits and nine walks), though it’s unlikely that he was healthy when on the hill. He may be 36 now, but Santana posted a combined 3.52 ERA in 907 2/3 frames from 2013-17. If his hand is healed up, he could be the best bet for a productive season on this list.
I wish the Rays would sign Shields for one more go around.
Said no one ever
Coming from a White Sox fan that’s had to deal with the guy for 3 years, one suggestion. Recant that statement. Trust me.
I’d trade him Chicago in a heart beat
He’s a free agent
Prefer Tatis would you?
haha love it, we could of ate twice the money and it would still of been worth it
The Pirates need to take a good long look at this list and sign one of the players on it.
They should be trying to sign Gio tbh
Fister sounds like an ideal fit given his penchant for inducing grounders.
think they sign them all fnrom the scrap heap and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. Always go for the low hanging fruit, former first round picks that have flopped so far, and any low cost player, pitching especially as a reclamation project. It has not worked out for them except for that 3 year stretch when they had a much different group of core,players.
How has no team picked up Buchholz? I get that he’s not super flashy and is injured a good amount of time, but you’d think some team would take a cheap 1 year flyer on a guy who produced a 2.00 ERA, and 3.0 bWAR in just under 100 innings last year.
I’m surprised Houston hasn’t inked him. Morton 2.0
Gotta be physical I think……you’re right, he certainly earned his money last year….I’m sure he’ll sign somewhere, the dollars will tell us about his condition.
I mean no one thinks that his 2 ERA is sustainable but his FIP pegged him a 3.47. Which is pretty solid. I can’t imagjne why you wouldn’t take a shot on him..
Agreed he is a great pitcher. The pirates would be wise to pick up a veteran, specifically bucholz. (Pomeranz or hellickson would also have fit, as would gallardo , Santana, or tomlin)
Agreed. Buch has a maybe 6-7 distinct pitches… fun to watch… younger pitchers could learn a few things from this guy, imo.
Pgh is counting on Kingham or Lyles as #5… I’d rather see someone like Buch in that mix…
This list is uninspiring. But then again, isn’t that what “low cost” is?
Low cost can still be intriguing. Pomeranz to SF for example.
I said this before on a thread,
Out of all the players in MLBTR FA contest,
Pomeranz is the one guy I thought had best chance signing international.
GIants signed him, cuz their pitching park is good
I thought your hoops humors comments were useless.
What the hell are you talking about? I find Bartolo Colon incredibly inspiring. Anyone… literally, anyone… can be a professional athlete.
With all double lives and wives, suspended for PED and shouldve been suspended for Biogenesis link.
Colon is an inspiring future Netflix original series.
x… he has more to an inspiring story than u do on net flex…
dragq, Be original, Or don’t comment at all.
Actually, stop replying to me. Thx.
I am shocked you’ve turned on a yankee great. Where has your sense of yankee loyalty gone?
The Angels need to sign all of them to minors deals lol.
But seriously, I like at least three of these guys for an Angel. Do a fifth day modified opener strategy. Edwin Jackson three innings. Doug Foster three innings. Shields for three innings. Keep other team off balance all game. All significantly different styles. All cheap. All ready to fill in bigger role when whole Angel staff goes on DL again.
Give us October Trout!
They need to trade Trout now and maximize the return. They won’t win the West in the next two years.
No return is worth a Trout. Plus, this generation best player, stay for one jersey in career. Special!
Angels made for really bad in Pujols. Don’t do again, give us October Trout with bug spending on lots of great depth and improvements.
wish kc would bring big game back we need rotation
I totally agree… Plus his influence on young hurlers like Keller, JJ, Fillmyer, Lopez, Oakes, could only be deemed a net positive & maybe, just possibly yield a young piece moving forward in return come late July!
Bucholz and Santana could be a valuable asset for any team. Both know how to pitch and just need to stay healthy.
I can’t imagine Bartolo is low cost. At this very second teams from both leagues are in a massive bidding war for his services.
His salary is low cost, but the budget for the team locker room spread increases 10x…
I hope Bartolo goes NL so we can see him swing the bat.
Running the bases is just as good.
Future Jenny Craig & Seattle Sutton rep.
But still gets the job done.
Running? He looks like one of those inflatable mascots…
I hope Bartolo just goes home. Enough is enough.
Shields could be a great value. He’s been effective and has been good before. Any upward swing would make him more valuable than the deal he will get.
Back-to-back seasons FIP and xFIP greater than five.
Entering his age-37 season.
Shields is my last choice on this list Lol
Shields has not been under a 4.53 era since 2015 so when you say he has been effective you’re looking a long ways in the past.As to his big game moniker his post season era is well over 5.00 and that was in his prime
What do you guys think would be reasonable for Buxton. Wendle, and Roe?
I would take some of these players with the Cards for the right price.
Fister would be solid as well
I think Doug Fister may be a good comeback candidate too. Its hard to say, knee injuries can throw everything off.
Any one of these guys would be a great addition to any team in, say, the Atlantic or Frontier League.
Santana is the most interesting to me. He might be the off season pick up that is really quiet but helps a team.
I miss Claydro
Shields is your prototypical innings eater. Really no one on this list can eat innings like him. He is however the last guy I’d want on a playoff contender. Think he’d fit in well for the O’s or Marlins though.
Innings eater AKA as a veteran that pitches a lot of innings and they’re bad innings at that.
Ervin Santana is probably done. He’s lost 4mph off his pitches and didn’t show up in the Dominican League after saying he was going to be pitching there this winter to showcase his health.
Buchholtz healthy has pretty much always been a solid-great major leaguer… Even if he isn’t a 2.00 ERA guy like he was last year prior to injury or sub 2.00 like he was in 2013 prior to injury, he has always been solid.,, given his inability to stay healthy, why hasn’t anyone thought about transitioning him to the pen on a regular bases?. In his cup of coffee out of the pen in what was a miserable final season in Boston, he managed 3-2 3.38 in 19 relief appearances.
I really like Clay’s arm for a three inning arm, if you want a whole season.
I really like Clay for a six inning arm, if you want two months of good health starting.
I think that was one of the reasons why he left KC last year, that wanted to transition him into the bullpen, and signed with the DBacks, that offered a rotation possibility.
Buchholz was really good last year, I think he surprised all of us. Unfortunately he did not enter into Hazen’s plans but I would have liked to see him again pitching at Chase. Really surprised no team has signed him yet. Sure, he won’t except a Minor deal, but I guess for a reasonable deal below 5M, perhaps incentives loaded he should be a match somewhere. True, the longer he is a FA, the more pressure clubs can put on his asking price but Buchholz is a guy for your rotation, albeit for 100 innings.
Brett Anderson was good enough when he was in Toronto. They could circle back and get him cheap. Happ 2.0 at his best maybe…
Minus Shields, Jackson and Colon, I think the others would be worth a look as a fifth starter. Especially for teams like Baltimore, Miami, and Pittsburgh. I’d say that Buchholz and Brett Anderson are the ones with the most upside.
The moment shields got owned by bartolo colon should have been the day he retired
Mets are one starter away from being incredibly tough, not as if that staff isn’t already legit. They could sign Santana to a 1 year deal and that would make it by far the toughest rotation in all of baseball 1-5
As a Jays fan in what promises to be a down year(with the exception of Vlad), am I the only that hopes they sign Bartolo Colon for the entertainment?
Yes you are the only one!
Bucs signing Colon is about the only way I’ll go to a game this year at PNc Park.
Could you imagine Bartolo at Primanti Brothers every day?
Try and stop him…
At least he’d be close enough to his wife and family…and the girlfriend and that family…and the other girlfriend with that family…and…
Man, if Colon’s personal life bothers you so much, don’t ever read about that Babe Ruth guy….
Looks like my fantasy leagues’ free agent list in August.
Innings eaters at this point in real life.
Gallardo should go to driveline and try to market himself as a reliever. Otherwise, he should retire.