We previewed the upcoming offseason’s qualifying market for potential free-agent hitters earlier Friday. We’ll do the same here with pitchers who may become free agents in a few months (bear in mind that possible Dodgers free agents Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenley Jansen are ineligible because they’ve both received QOs in the past)…
- Gerrit Cole, Astros: This is an easy one for the Astros, who acquired Cole from the Pirates entering 2018 and have since gotten elite production from the former No. 1 overall pick. Cole, who will turn 29 in a month, is the only player in the upcoming free-agent class with a realistic chance at a $200MM contract. The strikeout-heavy right-hander has notched a 2.87 ERA/3.07 FIP with 12.9 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9 in 150 2/3 innings this season.
- Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: Another former top pick, Strasburg still has four years and $100MM left on his current contract. Howeve, he’ll have to seriously consider opting out at this rate. If he does, the Nationals will qualify him. Strasburg, a 31-year-old righty, owns a 3.26 ERA/2.93 FIP with 10.75 K/9, 2.18 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent groundball rate through 140 2/3 frames.
- Madison Bumgarner, Giants: For most of the season, it looked as if the Giants were going to trade Bumgarner, which would have exempted him from a qualifying offer. The club’s recent charge up the standings led it to retain the franchise icon at the deadline, though, and it’s sure to qualify Bumgarner if it doesn’t sign him to an extension before free agency. The left-handed Bumgarner, who turned 30 onThursday, has worked to a 3.74 ERA/3.66 FIP with exemplary strikeout and walk rates (9.02 K/9, 1.87 BB/9) over 139 2/3 innings.
- Zack Wheeler, Mets: Like Bumgarner, Wheeler looked like a strong trade candidate for most of the season, but he didn’t move before the deadline. Barring an extension, the flamethrowing righty, 29, is another QO waiting to happen. While Wheeler has only logged a 4.45 ERA in 131 1/3 innings this year, he has registered a 3.51 FIP with 9.87 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9.
- Cole Hamels, Cubs: Hamels has been out for more than a month because of an oblique strain, but he’ll be back Saturday. Assuming he picks up where he left off prior to the injury, a qualifying offer looks clear-cut for the Cubs, who are currently paying Hamels $20MM. When healthy, the soon-to-be 36-year-old Hamels has justified that lofty price tag. The accomplished southpaw has recorded a 2.98 ERA/3.59 FIP, posted 8.76 K/9 against 3.16 BB/9, and put up a 51.1 percent grounder rate in 99 2/3 frames.
- Jake Odorizzi & Kyle Gibson, Twins: These are highly debatable cases, but it’s inarguable the two righties have acquitted themselves well for a terrific Twins team this season. Odorizzi, playing his age-29 season, has seen his average fastball velocity rise to a career-high 92.9 mph, helping him to a strong 3.73 ERA/3.92 FIP with a personal-best 9.36 K/9 (against 3.06 BB/9) in 108 2/3 innings. Although Odorizzi has always had difficulty generating ground balls (including this year, having done so at a 32.5 percent clip), home runs have never really haunted the former Royal and Ray since his career began in 2012. Gibson, who will turn 32 in October, has also clocked an all-time best mean fastball velo – 93.4 – en route to his top strikeout rate (9.13 per nine, to go with 2.55 walks). Unlike Odorizzi, Gibson has always been solid at inducing grounders. While he has done so 48.2 percent of the time this year, his home run-to-fly ball rate is sitting at an unappealing 18.4 percent. Still, Gibson has managed a respectable 4.10 ERA/3.98 FIP over 116 1/3 innings.
- Aroldis Chapman, Yankees: In order for Chapman to receive a qualifying offer, he’ll have to opt out of the remaining two years and $30MM left on his contract. It’s a realistic possibility for the high-velo left-hander, though he’ll turn 32 in February and will have to keep in mind that fellow star closer Craig Kimbrel struggled mightily to find a contract in free agency last winter after getting a QO. However, Kimbrel eventually pulled in a three-year, $43MM guarantee from the Cubs. Chapman has slumped of late, and he has blown five saves – his most since 2013 – in 32 chances. But Chapman has still notched a 2.81 ERA/2.52 FIP with 12.74 K/9 and 4.32 BB/9 in 41 2/3 frames.
- Will Smith, Giants: Smith joined his teammate Bumgarner in looking as if he’d change uniforms prior to the deadline for the past few months. The 30-year-old lefty is still in San Francisco with the deadline having come and gone, though, and is likely to land a QO as a result. Long a quality reliever, Smith has enjoyed one of his most effective seasons this year. He has pitched to a 2.66 ERA/2.73 FIP with 12.74 K/9, 2.09 BB/9 and 26 saves in 28 tries.
- Dellin Betances, Yankees: Qualifying the four-time All-Star setup man may have looked likely a few months back, but Betances has since missed the entire season because of shoulder and lat injuries. The Yankees expect Betances back before the campaign concludes, though there may not be enough time for the hard-throwing 31-year-old to make a QO case.