This is the third in a series of pieces previewing offseason club option decisions. This edition will focus on starting pitchers…
- Chris Archer, RHP, Pirates ($9MM option or $1.75MM buyout): The Archer era hasn’t gone as planned for Pittsburgh since it acquired him from Tampa Bay in a July 2018 blockbuster. This year, his first full season as a Pirate, Archer has notched an awful 5.35 ERA/5.55 FIP across 107 2/3 innings. His $9MM salary for next year no longer looks like a bargain, but it’s not pricey enough for the Pirates to cut the cord.
- Andrew Cashner, RHP, Red Sox ($10MM option): Cashner was the reigning world champion Red Sox’s headlining July acquisition, but he hasn’t helped matters during a skid that could knock the team out of contention. After pitching decently for the Orioles prior to the deal, the soon-to-be 33-year-old Cashner has yielded 18 earned runs on 31 hits and 10 walks (with 16 strikeouts) in four starts and 23 1/3 innings as a member of the Red Sox. He won’t be on their roster in 2020.
- Derek Holland, LHP, Cubs ($6.5MM option or $500K buyout): We could technically group Holland in with the relievers, as he has spent most of the season in that capacity for the Giants and Cubs after an abysmal start to the season out of San Francisco’s rotation. Holland has been good for the Cubs since they acquired the then-designated 32-year-old, having logged 5 2/3 innings of three-hit, one-run ball. As of now, though, he’s a strong bet to return to free agency over the winter.
- Corey Kluber, RHP, Indians ($17.5MM option or $1MM buyout): The two-time Cy Young winner got off to a surprisingly rough start before suffering a forearm fracture May 1, and he hasn’t returned since. But the 33-year-old Kluber’s option should still be an easy one for the Indians to exercise.
- Wade LeBlanc, LHP, Mariners ($5MM option or $450K buyout): While LeBlanc was a respectable source of innings for the Mariners in 2018, he’s likely pitching his way back to the free-agent market this season. The 35-year-old owns a 5.38 ERA/5.30 FIP over 92 innings divided between the M’s rotation and bullpen.
- Martin Perez, LHP, Twins ($7MM option or $500K buyout): It was just last offseason that the Rangers declined a $7.5MM option for Perez, who has since emerged as a decent buy-low pickup for the Twins. Perez, 28, is averaging a career-high 94.1 mph on his fastball and has pitched to a 4.58 ERA/4.44 FIP with 7.76 K/9, 3.57 BB/9 and a 49.3 percent groundball rate across 116 innings. That’s acceptable production for a back-end starter, though it’s worth noting Perez’s numbers have tailed off over the past couple months. Minnesota may opt to move on as a result, which would save the team $7MM. Then again, the club could be leery of having to replace yet another starter behind ace Jose Berrios with Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda all headed for free agency.
- Jose Quintana, LHP, Cubs ($11.5MM option or $1MM buyout): The Cubs traded two potential long-term building blocks, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and righty Dylan Cease, to the crosstown rival White Sox for Quintana back in 2017. Quintana was amid an excellent multiyear stretch then, though his effectiveness has waned since changing Chicago homes. Still, the soon-to-be 31-year-old absolutely hasn’t struggled enough for the Cubs to reject his option two seasons after giving up Jimenez and Cease. Quintana has recorded a 4.40 ERA/4.09 FIP in 122 2/3 innings this year.
- Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves ($12MM option or $1MM buyout): This is a pretty debatable case. On one hand, Teheran’s 3.46 ERA and team-leading 130 innings are impressive. On the other, his 4.47 FIP, 5.11 SIERA, 5.25 xFIP, 4.29 BB/9 and 39.7 percent grounder rate combine to paint a much drearier picture. That said, the 28-year-old Teheran has become known for regularly outperforming underwhelming peripherals. Whether the Braves trust his ability to do it again in 2020 will determine his fate with the organization.
- Jason Vargas, LHP, Phillies ($8MM option or $2MM buyout): Vargas was among the game’s worst starters in 2018, but he has rebounded this season to post passable back-end numbers with the Mets and Phillies. The soft-tossing 36-year-old has amassed 100 2/3 innings of 3.93 ERA/4.66 FIP pitching with 7.69 K/9, 3.58 BB/9 and a 40.7 percent grounder mark. He’s still far from a slam dunk to have his option picked up – cutting Vargas would save the Phillies $6MM – but they’ll need competent innings from somewhere in 2020. They haven’t consistently gotten enough of those this year from anyone but Aaron Nola. He and the declining Jake Arrieta will be back in Philly’s rotation next season, but questions abound otherwise.