With the holiday slowing down what had become a very rapid offseason, it works as a natural point to take stock of what players clubs could target in the coming weeks. On Monday, MLBTR looked through the remaining free agent relievers coming off the best 2022 campaigns (one of whom has since signed a major league deal). Now we’ll take stock of the rotation options who are still out on the open market.
There aren’t as many starting pitchers for clubs to sort through as there were bullpen targets, with 19 remaining hurlers who tallied at least 20 rotation innings this past season. We’ll look at the top half of that group by various metrics to determine who teams figure to prioritize as they seek starting pitching depth.
Note: all figures cited, including league averages, are looking solely at pitchers’ outings as starters.
ERA (league average — 4.05)
- Johnny Cueto (RHP), 3.29
- Michael Wacha (RHP), 3.32
- Wade Miley (LHP), 3.34
- Bryan Garcia (RHP), 3.54
- Zack Greinke (RHP), 3.68
- Devin Smeltzer (LHP), 4.02
- Zach Davies (RHP), 4.06
- Aníbal Sánchez (RHP), 4.28
- Drew Hutchison (RHP), 4.52
Strikeout rate (league average — 21.6%)
- Chase Anderson (RHP), 24.6%
- Matt Swarmer (RHP), 22.4%
- Bryan Garcia, 20.2%
- Michael Wacha, 20.2%
- Chris Archer (RHP), 19.2%
- Wade Miley, 18.4%
- Zach Davies, 17.9%
- Chad Kuhl (RHP), 17.8%
- Mike Minor (LHP), 16.7%
Strikeout/walk rate differential (league average — 14.1 percentage points)
- Michael Wacha, 14.2 points
- Matt Swarmer, 13.1 points
- Dylan Bundy (RHP), 11.1 points
- Chase Anderson, 10.6 points
- Johnny Cueto, 10.5 points
- Wade Miley, 9.2 points
- Michael Pineda (RHP), 9 points
- Aaron Sanchez (RHP), 9 points
- Zach Davies, 8.8 points
Ground-ball rate (league average — 42.5%)
- Wade Miley, 54.2%
- Aaron Sanchez, 51.3%
- Chase Anderson, 50.9%
- Dallas Keuchel (LHP), 50.2%
- Jared Koenig (LHP), 47.2%
- Chris Archer, 43.7%
- Zach Davies, 42.9%
- Johnny Cueto, 42.5%
- Zack Greinke, 41.3%
FIP (league average — 4.04)
- Johnny Cueto, 3.76
- Wade Miley, 4.00
- Zack Greinke, 4.03
- Michael Wacha, 4.14
- Chase Anderson, 4.37
- Chris Archer, 4.49
- Aaron Sanchez, 4.61
- Dylan Bundy, 4.66
- Zach Davies, 4.83
- Johnny Cueto, 153 1/3
- Dylan Bundy, 140
- Zack Greinke, 137
- Chad Kuhl, 137
- Zach Davies, 134 1/3
- Michael Wacha, 127 1/3
- Chris Archer, 102 2/3
- Mike Minor, 98
- Drew Hutchison, 89 2/3
DeGrom Texas Ranger
I wouldn’t have even known Bryan Garcia existed if the threshold had been higher than 20 innings (say 80 perhaps). I do find it interesting that the lowest FIPs are way higher than the lowest ERAs. That’s probably why teams value them much less than the players do, and so they are unsigned.
Garcia has been a below-average reliever and was DFA’d and outrighted by the Tigers. At AAA, he suddenly turned into a starter (even at college, he was a closer) and was very effective. After almost two rotations weren’t available, the Tigers called him up and let him start; the results were amazingly good. But I would be surprised if more than a minor-league contract comes into play for Garcia, hopefully with the Tigers.
Anyone who watched Garcia last year realized how lucky the guy was in the majors.
I wouldn’t want to touch the 28 year old with a 10-foot pole, we can do way better even as depth. Guy got exposed 2 years ago, and basically parlayed that into some halfway decent chances this year, but he’s washed. He had a FIP north of 5 for a reason.
FIP isn’t a fair metric for pitchers that actually pitch to contact. Zack Grienke is no longer the K machine he once was. I think he will be this generations Greg Maddux, turning into the wily veteran that stays a solid back of the rotation guy well into his 40s.
DeGrom Texas Ranger
I agree. Hits per 9 aren’t considered in FIP, and I think homeruns are overweighted, given how some of that is luck. The stubborn types who throw 0-2 pitches down the middle (half the Rangers’ guys, especially Dennis Santana) tend to give up more hits and runs. Santana got extremely lucky with homeruns, and so did Matt Moore.
You mean…Adam Wainwright
The Baseball Fan
Would a Cueto reunion make sense for Cincinnati?
This one belongs to the Reds
He could guide those three young starters. That would be worth it alone, especially if he could teach Greene that change up.
The Baseball Fan
In that case, would he be a deadline flip or would they keep him all season as a veteran with strong influence
This one belongs to the Reds
Good question. Knowing them though, they would try to flip him.
Yeah Cueto’s still got it. He can definitely help a team, and some young pitchers out there.
I agree CJ99, I have him at best buy with what’s left.
@Plugnplay- I definitely agree with you. I have Wacha as my 2nd best starter out of rest of the bunch.
Grienke = thanks for the memories.
Twins would be wise to resign Bundy, a machine for three innings.
Smeltzer is a great option for a rebuilding team needing SP help. WSH maybe?
Wince if you will at the choices, but one of these pitchers will turn in an unexpected terrific season and get some down-vote Cy Young love. It happens every year. The question is which one?
C Yards Jeff
Do Orioles need a lefty SP? Bring back Miley? Deeper left field fence now plus induces a lot of grounders. Compliments FA righty SP Gibson signing?
Might be worth a shot, at least until Means returns. They could always flip him at the deadline if he has a decent first half.
C Yards Jeff
@Hfsteve; Means, oh boy, that’s so true. Who knows at what point he may be back.
Plus there doesn’t seem to be many other in house LSPs to fill the void? I guess there’s Rom, but a year away? And Hall has the stuff but wild? Hmmm.
Know anything about Smeltzer from the Twins?
I think the hope is for Means to return around mid-season, if all goes well. I’m excited to see what they do with Hall. I feel like he may end up being a bullpen piece. As for Smeltzer, I don’t know much. Based on stats, he seems like he’d be a good option for the O’s. Maybe a Mateo for Smeltzer swap?
I think the shift limitations will really hurt a GB guy like Miley. You have limitations of where you can put a defender even though you know a guy is likely to hit the ball there.
I don’t think the LF fence being moved back would help him nearly as much being a GB guy. Think we’d be better off with a fly ball pitcher
The Jays need a 5th until Tiedemann is ready and they seem fine with going over the tax threshold so a lot of these guys could be good candidates for a one year deal there. For me, I just want to see a guy that can eat innings, stay healthy and keep the era hovering even just under 4ish. someone that can keep the ball on the ground in the homer dome.
Wacha looks really good at first blush. Or even second. But the last two times that he’s had an ERA in the low 3’s, his FIP has been roughly 100 points higher .
The 2012 comp pick for Albert Pujols rejecting the qualifying offer, Micheal Wacha. For a while there it was looking like an okay exchange then the shoulder issues happened and he really only had two full good seasons? Was happy to see him do good again
For depth, he’s worth it
I think it would make sense for the Padres to go after Cueto or Wachob, and honestly, I’d alternatively love to see them bring Greinke on board.
I hear Bryce Wilson is available.
Grienke is getting close to 3000 K’s, Royals should give him a deal, thats a HOF in a Royals cap.
He would need to post 2019 numbers to get to 3000 next year. Would be cool to see
Grienke had the unfortunate luck of leaving a team a few years before they would win the world series… Royals, Dodgers, and Houston and each time it was closer and closer till last year he was one year off of staying to be on a championship team?
King of Norway
Not the list you want to see if you need SP or even BP help….
Feels like there are several pitchers here who are better than Rich Hill and will cost less than $8 million.
Was just thinking similar thoughts about Manea.
Out of these who are the Cardinals going to sign?
They sure do need help.
I was just talking to a friend about this. I think a reunion with st Louis would be good to see. Hes still a solid number 3 and has stretches of #2 starts.
I want the Angels to sign Wacha Talkinabout. Or, do they call him Michael Wachamacallit.
That’s a really surprising amount of low era SP still available. Wonder if it has something to do with the rule changes regarding the shift.
Don’t care much about the other stats except for situational RP.
I would like to see the Angels go after Grienke. He seems like his floor is pretty solid and at his age might work well in a 6-man rotation. Have no idea how the non-shift will affect him.
I could see Bloom resigning Wacha as a possibility. He’s a cheap option who was pretty durable last year and adds depth.
Chaim Bloom please sign one of these pitchers. Rich Hill, Eduardo Bazardo, Nathan Eovaldi are all gone. kluber is a good step, but more is needed. please spend money. it’s normal. please.