FanPost

The 2013 pitching market as it stands today

Yes, I know it's April. Yes, I know we have a technically full rotation. Yes, I know John Lackey is coming back next year. I'm making the post anyway.

There have been some deals made this last offseason that have taken some very good pitchers out of an incredibly talented free agent pool for the 2012-2013 offseason. With John Danks and Matt Cain off the market, let's take a look at the free agent list for this offseason:

Scott Baker (31) - $9.25MM club option
Erik Bedard (34)
Joe Blanton (32)
Fausto Carmona (29) - $9MM club option
Bartolo Colon (40)
Aaron Cook (34)
Kevin Correia (32)
Jorge De La Rosa (32) - $11MM player option with a $1MM buyout
Ryan Dempster (36)
R.A. Dickey (38) - $5MM club option with a $300K buyout
Zach Duke (30)
Scott Feldman (29) - $9.25MM club option with a $600K buyout
Jeff Francis (31)
Gavin Floyd (30) - $9.5MM club option
Freddy Garcia (37)
Zack Greinke (28)
Jeremy Guthrie (34)
Cole Hamels (29)
Rich Harden (31)
Dan Haren (32) - $15.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout
Livan Hernandez (38)
Tim Hudson (37) - $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Edwin Jackson (29)
Hiroki Kuroda (38)
Colby Lewis (33)
Francisco Liriano (29)
Kyle Lohse (34)
Rodrigo Lopez (37)
Derek Lowe (40)
Paul Maholm (31) - $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Shaun Marcum (31)
Jason Marquis (34)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (32)
Brandon McCarthy (29)
Kevin Millwood (38)
Brett Myers (32) - $10MM vesting option with a $3MM buyout
Ramon Ortiz (40)
Carl Pavano (37)
Jake Peavy (31) - $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
Joel Pineiro (34)
Anibal Sanchez (29)
Jonathan Sanchez (30)
Ervin Santana (30) - $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Joe Saunders (32)
James Shields (31) - $9MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
Chien-Ming Wang (33)
Jake Westbrook (35) - $8.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout if club declines
Randy Wolf (36) - $10MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
Chris Young (34)
Carlos Zambrano (32)

So before we start analyzing pitchers that the Sox SHOULD be interested in, let's eliminate the pitchers they SHOULDN'T or WON'T be interested in. First, we'll eliminate all the pitchers who are all but guaranteed to have their options picked up. Jorge De La Rosa, Dan Haren, Tim Hudson, Gavin Floyd, RA Dickey and James Shields all come off the list.

Scott Baker (31) - $9.25MM club option
Erik Bedard (34)
Joe Blanton (32)
Fausto Carmona (29) - $9MM club option
Bartolo Colon (40)
Aaron Cook (34)
Kevin Correia (32)
Ryan Dempster (36)
Zach Duke (30)
Scott Feldman (29) - $9.25MM club option with a $600K buyout
Jeff Francis (31)
Freddy Garcia (37)
Zack Greinke (28)
Jeremy Guthrie (34)
Cole Hamels (29)
Rich Harden (31)
Livan Hernandez (38)
Edwin Jackson (29)
Hiroki Kuroda (38)
Colby Lewis (33)
Francisco Liriano (29)
Kyle Lohse (34)
Rodrigo Lopez (37)
Derek Lowe (40)
Paul Maholm (31) - $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Shaun Marcum (31)
Jason Marquis (34)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (32)
Brandon McCarthy (29)
Kevin Millwood (38)
Brett Myers (32) - $10MM vesting option with a $3MM buyout
Ramon Ortiz (40)
Carl Pavano (37)
Jake Peavy (31) - $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
Joel Pineiro (34)
Anibal Sanchez (29)
Jonathan Sanchez (30)
Joe Saunders (32)
Chien-Ming Wang (33)
Jake Westbrook (35) - $8.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout if club declines
Randy Wolf (36) - $10MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
Chris Young (34)
Carlos Zambrano (32)

Now let's take out the old. In this case, it's everyone over 36. These players might still provide value for someone, but John Smoltz still burns in my memory and I don't trust the elder statesmen of baseball.

Scott Baker (31) - $9.25MM club option
Erik Bedard (34)
Joe Blanton (32)
Fausto Carmona (29) - $9MM club option
Aaron Cook (34)
Kevin Correia (32)
Ryan Dempster (36)
Zach Duke (30)
Scott Feldman (29) - $9.25MM club option with a $600K buyout
Jeff Francis (31)
Zack Greinke (28)
Jeremy Guthrie (34)
Cole Hamels (29)
Rich Harden (31)
Edwin Jackson (29)
Colby Lewis (33)
Francisco Liriano (29)
Kyle Lohse (34)
Derek Lowe (40)
Paul Maholm (31) - $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Shaun Marcum (31)
Jason Marquis (34)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (32)
Brandon McCarthy (29)
Kevin Millwood (38)
Brett Myers (32) - $10MM vesting option with a $3MM buyout
Jake Peavy (31) - $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
Joel Pineiro (34)
Anibal Sanchez (29)
Jonathan Sanchez (30)
Joe Saunders (32)
Chien-Ming Wang (33)
Jake Westbrook (35) - $8.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout if club declines
Randy Wolf (36) - $10MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
Chris Young (34)
Carlos Zambrano (32)

Next, we'll eliminate the players who, for one reason or another, just won't play in Fenway. They're either not starter material, or they have bad blood with the team. Guys like Erik Bedard and Chien-Ming Wang.

Scott Baker (31) - $9.25MM club option
Aaron Cook (34)
Ryan Dempster (36)
Jeff Francis (31)
Zack Greinke (28)
Jeremy Guthrie (34)
Cole Hamels (29)
Edwin Jackson (29)
Colby Lewis (33)
Francisco Liriano (29)
Shaun Marcum (31)
Jason Marquis (34)
Brandon McCarthy (29)
Jake Peavy (31) - $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
Anibal Sanchez (29)
Jonathan Sanchez (30)
Jake Westbrook (35) - $8.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout if club declines
Randy Wolf (36) - $10MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
Chris Young (34)

Okay, we're getting close to the final list now, but let's remember that we've already got a huge payroll. As long as John Lackey, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford are making tens of millions of dollars, it's going to be hard to add another mega-contract to the team. Let's eliminate all of the big contracts from the list.

Scott Baker (31) - $9.25MM club option
Aaron Cook (34)
Ryan Dempster (36)
Jeff Francis (31)
Jeremy Guthrie (34)
Edwin Jackson (29)
Colby Lewis (33)
Francisco Liriano (29)
Jason Marquis (34)
Brandon McCarthy (29)
Jake Peavy (31) - $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
Anibal Sanchez (29)
Jonathan Sanchez (30)
Jake Westbrook (35) - $8.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout if club declines
Randy Wolf (36) - $10MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
Chris Young (34)

These are the players I think the FO targets if we go after pitching next season. Remember, we're trying to stay under the luxury tax in 2014, so we're probably looking for one-year deals. Looking at the available players here, the ones I see as an upgrade over what we already have (and the ones we have the best chance of acquiring on a one-year deal) are:

Scott Baker

Jake Peavy

Ryan Dempster

Brandon McCarthy

Aaron Cook

Baker is having shoulder surgery this season and will not play a game for the Twins this season. However, his should be ready for baseball activities in late October, meaning he can be in shape and ready to play by the start of spring training. The upside with Baker is that we can probably get him for a small amount of money on a one-year deal, the downside is he will not have thrown a pitch in two years by the time Spring Training rolls around. Even so, if he can demonstrate the skills that lead him to be one of the best underrated pitchers in the American League, he is my first choice for the Sox to pick up in 2013.

Jake Peavy is an interesting case. He's not been healthy throughout the entirety of his contract with the Padres and White Sox, but if he can get healthy (and it looks like he finally is) he's the best pitcher on that list. His situation is similar to Baker's, and we have to hope that another team doesn't come out and offer him multiple years. There's also the chance that he regains his 2007 form and the White Sox pick up his option. I don't think that will happen with the White Sox trying to rebuild, but this is Kenny WIlliams we're talking about.

Last year Ryan Dempster's ERA jumped to 4.80, but his FIP and xFIP actually dropped from their 2010 levels. He will be 36 but because he spent four years from 2004 to 2007 as a reliever, his arm doesn't have as much mileage on it as a comparable pitcher who has been a full time starter. Since being converted back into a starter in Chicago, Dempster has never failed to reach the 200 innings mark. I think if the Sox picked him up on a one-year deal, we might be able to squeeze another good year out of him. Like Peavy though, there is the danger that with a good 2011, he will receive multi-year contract offers.

McCarthy is another player coming off of injury, and I liken him to Erik Bedard, We can get some awesome innings out of him, but he's only topped 100 innings twice in his career. McCarthy has the walk and groundball rates we should be looking for in a Fenway pitcher, and on a one year deal, he could be an asset to the team.

I really like Aaron Cook, when he's healthy, he can be a Justin Masterson type pitcher in front of our defense (especially if Will Middlebrooks is manning the hot corner rather than Kevin Youkilis). A career 57% groundball rate is exactly what we should be looking for in a fourth starter for Fenway, and if he's given a shot to prove himself this year, I'm sure I won't be the only person on his bandwagon come November.

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