Earlier tonight, we took a look at hitters whose clubs will soon have to decide whether to exercise their options for 2020. We’ll do the same here with pitchers…
- Chris Archer, Pirates ($9MM club option or $1.75MM buyout): Archer has undoubtedly been a major letdown for the Pirates since they sent Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Shane Baz to the Rays for him in July 2018. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to envision the Pirates turning down Archer’s option this offseason. Even for a low-budget club, it’s worth gambling on to see if Archer puts up any kind of a rebound year in 2020.
- Kendall Graveman, Cubs ($3MM club option): The Cubs signed Graveman, a former Athletic, last offseason knowing he probably wouldn’t pitch in 2019 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Graveman did indeed wind up sitting out the entire season, and now the Cubs have to decide whether he has progressed enough behind the scenes to justify a $3MM guarantee for next year.
- Corey Kluber, Indians ($17.5MM club option or $1MM buyout): Even though Kluber just went through an injury-ravaged season in which he didn’t pitch past May 1, and even though his option for 2020 is rich, the Indians plan to exercise it. Understandable on their part, as the soon-to-be 34-year-old Kluber’s a two-time Cy Young winner who was a force as recently as last season.
- Martin Perez, Twins ($7MM club option or $500K buyout): During the first half of the season, when Perez looked like one of the steals of last winter’s free-agent class, it appeared he was well on his way to having his option exercised. But the 28-year-old Perez’s bubble burst as the season advanced, making his option decision trickier for the Twins. He seems like a decent bet to return to the market after logging a 5.12 ERA/4.66 FIP over 165 1/3 innings this season.
- Jose Quintana, Cubs ($11.5MM club option or $1MM buyout): Although Quintana hasn’t provided the type of production the Cubs were probably expecting when they acquired him from the crosstown rival White Sox in July 2017, the North Siders still figure to keep the lefty in the fold for 2020. The 30-year-old Quintana’s coming off a 171-inning season in which he notched a 4.68 ERA (with a far better 3.80 FIP) and 8.0 K/9 against 2.42 BB/9.
- Julio Teheran, Braves ($12MM club option or $1MM buyout): This could be an agonizing call for the Braves, who’ve seen the 28-year-old Teheran post mostly strong bottom-line production (and eat plenty of innings) since his first full season in 2013. At the same time, the fact that Teheran’s ERA indicators have consistently fallen short of his actual run prevention, not to mention that he’s coming off a second consecutive high-walk season, could influence the Braves to go in another direction. They did leave him off the initial version of their NLDS roster this month.
- Jason Vargas, Phillies ($8MM club option or $2MM buyout): The 36-year-old Vargas’ output fell flat after the Phillies acquired him from the Mets over the summer. He’ll likely don a different uniform in 2020 as a result.
- Tony Barnette, Cubs ($3MM club option): The Cubs will go in another direction here, as Barnette barely pitched this year on account of injuries and personal issues.
- Jared Hughes, Phillies ($3MM club option or $250K buyout): The grounder-heavy Hughes, 34, is probably bound for free agency after an unspectacular season divided between two teams. He didn’t survive the year with the Reds, who parted with him in August, and then joined the Phillies via waivers.
- Nate Jones, Rangers ($5.15MM club option or $1.25MM buyout): Injuries have laid waste to the once-great Jones’ career, having limited the righty to 30 or fewer innings in five of the past six seasons. He threw just 10 1/3 frames in 2019, and though Texas picked up Jones from the White Sox at the trade deadline, the Rangers may buy him out before he ever throws a pitch in their uniform. TR Sullivan of MLB.com suggested that would be the case at the time of the trade, though the team’s official plans in regards to Jones still aren’t known.
- Shawn Kelley, Rangers ($2.5MM club option or $250K buyout): This is hardly a bank-breaking sum, though Kelley didn’t do himself any favors by floundering over the final two months of the season. The 35-year-old ended 2019 with a 4.94 ERA/5.52 FIP, 8.18 K/9, 2.09 BB/9 and a paltry 29.3 percent groundball rate over 47 1/3 innings. If the Rangers don’t bring Kelley back for next season, he has said he’ll retire.
- Brandon Morrow, Cubs ($12MM vesting option or $3MM buyout): The Cubs obviously won’t be picking up Morrow’s option after the 35-year-old suffered through yet another injury-plagued season in 2019. The formerly dominant Morrow hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since July 15, 2018.
- Pat Neshek, Phillies ($7MM club option or $750K buyout): This should be an easy buyout for the Phillies, as the 39-year-old Neshek struggled through his second injury-shortened season in a row in 2019. Neshek underwent right hamstring surgery a month ago.
- Dan Otero, Indians ($1.5MM club option or $100K buyout): The Indians are moving on from the once-effective Otero, who’s fresh off back-to-back seasons of dismal production.
- Yusmeiro Petit, Athletics ($5.5MM buyout or $1MM buyout): After Petit’s third straight high-inning, low-ERA, low-walk season (and second in Oakland), you’d think the A’s would bring him back for another reasonably priced season. To this point, though, there hasn’t been any official word on whether Petit will be an Athletic for his age-35 season in 2020.
- David Phelps, Cubs ($5MM club option): MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently explored the Cubs’ looming decision in regards to Phelps. At the time (mid-September), Phelps was seven appearances away from totaling 40 on the year and boosting the value of his option from $3MM to $5MM. The 33-year-old, whom the Cubs acquired from the Blue Jays at the deadline, ultimately got to 41. Phelps recorded a solid 3.41 ERA with 9.44 K/9 in that 34 1/3-inning span, though he also walked 4.46 per nine and saw his velocity, groundball percentage and swinging-strike rate trend downward in his return from 2018 Tommy John surgery. His future could be a tough call for Chicago.
- Adam Warren, Padres ($2.5MM club option or $500K buyout): The Padres seem likely to reject Warren’s option. Not only did the 32-year-old disappoint over the season’s first few months, but he didn’t pitch after June 7 on account of a forearm injury.
- Jake Diekman, Athletics ($5.75MM mutual option or $500K buyout): This could be too steep a price for the low-budget Athletics, with whom Diekman’s already shaky control spiraled after the A’s got him from the Royals in July. The hard-throwing 32-year-old walked 16 batters in 20 1/3 innings as an Athletic.
- Sean Doolittle, Nationals ($6.5MM club option or $500K buyout): Doolittle just closed out the Dodgers to help deliver a long-awaited playoff series victory for the Nationals. Although Doolittle didn’t have a banner regular season before that, he still looks worthy of a $6.5MM investment for 2020.
- Wade LeBlanc, Mariners ($5MM club option or $450K buyout): LeBlanc’s likely done in Seattle, having stumbled to a 5.71 ERA/5.49 FIP over 121 1/3 innings this year.
- Aaron Loup, Padres ($2MM club option): Loup dealt with elbow issues nearly all season and didn’t take a major league mound after April 7. A buyout’s probably on its way.