FanPost

The Starting Pitching Market for 2014

Last year I looked at the starting pitcher market with an eye towards the Red Sox being buyers. I wanted to know what other teams' needs were in order to gauge the competition for free agents. This year is very different, as the Red Sox are replete with starting pitching, in the majors and at Triple-A. They are even in position to trade a starter, and there are a lot of questions concerning what teams would be interested.

So this year I have a different angle. I've looked at the lengthy list of free agents and tried to match teams' needs to see if there's room for anyone who would need not only to pay a pitcher but to trade for him as well. I've been surprised by how many needs around the league are best met on the free agent market this offseason. There have been seven free agent starters to sign already (Hudson, Johnson, Haren, Vargas, Nolasco, Hughes, Vogelsong; not including Lincecum), and still there is a wide field of starters waiting to sign. As an exercise I'm going to try to match them with all the teams according to their needs as best I can.

But first let's look at those needs. I've categorized the teams as so:

ENVIABLE DEPTH (4) -- Red Sox, Cardinals, Rays, Diamondbacks
SEEMS SET (3) -- Dodgers, Athletics, Padres
ALL FULL, BUT IN NEED OF DEPTH (4) -- Tigers, Reds, Giants, Royals
COULD USE A GUY (3) -- Mariners, Pirates, Astros
NEEDS A GUY (12) -- Braves, Brewers, Indians, Orioles, Angels, Nationals, Rangers, White Sox, Phillies, Blue Jays, Rockies, Marlins
NEEDS MORE THAN A GUY (4) -- Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Mets

Under the teams with needs are listed "approximate signings." These are of course not the only possible signings, but the ones that suit my exercise, admittedly an approximation. After I discuss the teams, I bring all the free agents together to examine the field.

***


ENVIABLE DEPTH -- 4 teams

Red Sox
Rotation: Lester, Buchholz, Lackey, Doubront, Peavy. Swingmen: Dempster, Morales. Depth: Workman, Webster, Ranaudo, De La Rosa, Barnes, Wright, Hinojosa, Britton.

As of the beginning of the offseason, Cherington says he prepares to enter spring training with all six of his present veteran starters on the roster. With such abundant depth, though, you've got to wonder if the $13.25M in salary due to Dempster can't be better allocated. Workman, Britton, and De La Rosa all spent time in Boston's bullpen this past year, and are candidates to return there. Hinojosa (not on the 40-man) is a fresh defector from Cuba, signed in October, who will be entering his age-28 season.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

*

Cardinals
Rotation: Wainwright, Garcia (shoulder), Wacha, Miller, Lynn, Kelly. Depth: Martinez, Rosenthal, Lyons, Gast (shoulder), Cooney.

Even in bidding adieu to Westbrook, the Cardinals have an overfull rotation, and one of great promise. Garcia had surgery on his shoulder in May, but is expected to be ready for spring training. Another, more pitching-starved team might want to see Rosenthal fail at starting before committing to him as an ace reliever, but the Cardinals might be content with him at the back of their 'pen. Martinez, on the other hand, should be given more of a chance to develop as a starter.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

*

Rays
Rotation: Price, Moore, Cobb, Archer, Hellickson. Depth: Odorizzi, Colome, Torres, Romero, Montgomery.

Price could be traded, but he doesn't need to be. The Rays overall like what they have in the depth options listed.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

*

Diamondbacks
Rotation: Corbin, Miley, Cahill, Delgado, McCarthy. Swingman: Collmenter. Depth: Skaggs, Bradley, Chafin, Hudson (TJS in June).

Plenty of great pitching, and word is they're trying to trade for Samardzija. I do not understand Kevin Towers. Time and again he confounds me.

Bradley is the top pitching prospect in the minors right now; he should be ready to debut before season's end.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

[UPDATE 12/16: The Diamondbacks traded from depth, using Skaggs to get Trumbo.]

***


SEEMS SET -- 3 teams

Dodgers
Rotation: Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, Haren, Beckett (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome), Billingsley (TJS in late April). Depth: Fife, Lee, Magill, Reed.

The Haren signing makes this lineup look complete, though depth signings are still possible.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

*

Athletics
Rotation: Parker, [Kazmir,] Anderson, Gray, Straily, Griffin, Milone. Depth: [Pomeranz,] Leon, Werner, Ynoa, [Lindblom].

A qualifying offer was not extended to free agent Colon, but he could still be brought back. Anderson has been dangled as trade bait. After Gray's stunning debut last fall, it'll be fascinating to see what he does in a full season.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

[UPDATE 12/8: The acquisition this week of Kazmir (as well as Lindblom in the Gentry trade) upgrade Oakland to ENVIABLE DEPTH.]

[UPDATE 12/16: Anderson was traded away as expected (to the Rockies). Included in the return was a rotation depth piece in Pomeranz.]

*

Padres
Rotation: Cashner, Ross, Kennedy, Johnson, Stults. Depth: Luebke, Wieland, Erlin, Smith, Bass, Kelly (TJS in early April).

With Johnson signed, the Padres have made like they are set at the starter position and are turning to other needs.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

[UPDATE 12/16: In a depth move, the Padres gave the Astros Bass in exchange for a higher Rule-5 draft pick.]

***


ALL FULL, BUT IN NEED OF DEPTH -- 4 teams

Tigers
Rotation: Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez, Fister, Porcello. Swingman: Smyly. Depth: Crosby, [Krol, Ray].

Scherzer is entering his final year of team control, and as such there have been rumors that he might be traded. I think it's more likely the Tigers will just ride out the rest of his contract, though, and take it from there. Of course, Porcello has always been rumored to be on the block, but that may never happen either. They remain slight on left-handed pitchers, in both the rotation and the 'pen.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Saunders.

[UPDATE 12/8: The puzzling Fister trade leaves Detroit maintaining the same status, given that they seem to be promoting Smyly. I still think they have a depth problem, though.]

*

Reds
Rotation: Latos, Cueto, Bailey, Leake, Cingrani. Depth: Corcino, [Holmberg].

There are injury concerns, particularly with Cueto and Cingrani, and minimal depth. They need to bolster their depth, and there seem to be a lot of starting pitchers on the free agent market either in line for a minor league deal or open to beginning the season in the bullpen.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Niemann.

[UPDATE 12/8: The Reds did help their depth problem this week by acquiring Holmberg in the three-way Hanigan-Bell trade. Holmberg did make a start last season for Arizona.]

*

Giants
Rotation: Cain, Bumgarner, Hudson, Lincecum, Vogelsong. Depth: Petit, Surkamp, Moscoso, Kickham.

So far this offseason, the Giants took Lincecum off the market at a hefty price, brought Hudson back to the Bay Area, and, after voiding his club option, yet re-signed Vogelsong.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Lannan.

*

Royals
Rotation: Shields, Guthrie, Vargas, Duffy, Ventura. Swingman: Davis. Depth: Zimmer.

It seems the Royals are banking on their young guys to fill the back of their rotation.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Paulino.

***


COULD USE A GUY -- 3 teams

Mariners
Rotation: Hernandez, Iwakuma, Walker, Ramirez, Paxton. Depth: Maurer, Beaven, Hultzen (shoulder).

With a lot of youth in that rotation, they could still add a pitcher for insurance, and they have money to spend. If I were them I would try to get a high upside guy like Colon.

After a season lost to shoulder woes, prospect Hultzen had surgery this October and will be uncertain to contribute in the new season.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Colon.

*

Pirates
Rotation: Liriano, Cole, Morton, Rodriguez (elbow), [Volquez,] Locke. Depth: Taillon, Cumpton, McPherson (TJS in July), Irwin, Pimentel.

Burnett says he'll choose between retirement and re-upping with the Bucs, presumably for something a little less than a qualifying offer, since he wasn't extended one. Rodriguez' arthritic elbow is a big question mark. There's no cure for arthritis, and it can make pitching extremely painful. Top prospect Taillon is on schedule to follow Cole's 2013 act with one of his own in 2014. Pimentel is out of options and might be used as a swingman out of the bullpen.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Burnett.

[UPDATE 12/16: The Pirates, besides extending Morton, signed Volquez on a one-year deal. It's a good idea for them to have more depth, but if Rodriguez is healthy or Burnett re-signs (still a possibility), I'm not sure what that does to Locke. Anyways, they kind of "seem set" now, but because they could still sign Burnett, who would easily be an upgrade, I'll keep them here in "COULD USE A GUY".]

*

Astros
Rotation: Cosart, Oberholtzer, Lyles, [Feldman,] Harrell. Depth: Peacock, Clemens, Keuchel, [Bass,] White (TJS last March), Ely (TJS in late April), Owens, Wojciechowski, Foltynewicz, Appel, McCullers.

I'd put them in the "Needs a Guy" section, but hey, they're the Astros -- they don't need to do anything, not right now anyway.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Chen.

[UPDATE 12/8: The Astros this week traded Lyles to Colorado and replaced him with free agent Feldman.]

[UPDATE 12/16: In a depth move, the Astros received Bass from the Padres in exchange for a higher Rule-5 draft pick.]

***


NEEDS A GUY -- 12 teams

Braves
Rotation: Minor, Teheran, Medlen, Wood, [Floyd,] Beachy (elbow). Depth: Hale, Graham, Gilmartin.

Beachy had TJS in June 2012 and his return in 2013 did not go well, as he had to be shut down in September. It remains to be seen if he'll be good to go in 2014.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Garcia.

[UPDATE 12/16: I thought Floyd might be a good bounce-back candidate, and if the Braves think so too, that's good validation of my hunch. This team now "SEEMS SET".]

*

Brewers
Rotation: Lohse, Gallardo, Estrada, Peralta. Swingman: Gorzelanny. Depth: Thornburg, Hellweg, Nelson, Fiers.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Yoon.

*

Indians
Rotation: Masterson, Salazar, Kluber, McAllister, [Marcum]. Depth: Carrasco, Bauer, House, Cloyd.

Indications are that they can't afford to bring back Jimenez or Kazmir.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Maholm.

[UPDATE 12/16: The Indians sign Marcum. It's a minor-league deal, but the type he can opt out of if he doesn't earn a roster spot out of spring training. For now I'm penciling him into the rotation. It's hard to know whether the Indians will settle here or still add an arm. They could bear an upgrade. I'll put them in "COULD USE A GUY".]

*

Orioles
Rotation: Tillman, Chen, Norris, Gonzalez. Depth: Gausman, Bundy (TJS in late June), Britton, McFarland, S. Johnson.

There has been discussion with Feldman about a return to Baltimore.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Feldman.

*

Angels
Rotation: Weaver, Wilson, Richards, Blanton, [Santiago]. Depth: [Skaggs,] Volstad, Roth, Shoemaker. Non-tender candidates: Williams, Hanson.

Dipoto continues to neglect his rotation. Last year he added Blanton and Hanson to a team with the loftiest of ambitions. This year he has signed a reliever in Smith and increased the payroll in the Bourjos-Freese trade before complaining that he might need to trade Trumbo to make room in the budget to add starting pitching -- which has been the team's greatest weakness all along.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Halladay.

[UPDATE 12/16: Trading Trumbo for Santiago (from the White Sox) and Skaggs (from the Diamondbacks), the Angels finally added to their pitching. Due to my lack of confidence in their back-end arms, I'll only upgrade them to "COULD USE A GUY".]

*

Nationals
Rotation: Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzalez, [Fister,] Detwiler (back). Depth: Roark, Jordan, Ohlendorf, Karns, Purke.

Recurring back problems make Detwiler a question mark, but for now you have to pencil him in. Expect Rizzo to acquire someone to fill the Jackson/Haren mold of past seasons. Jordan, Roark, and Karns comprise encouraging depth options, and one could push Detwiler to the bullpen.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

"Can the Nationals Rely on Ross Detwiler as Part of the 2014 Rotation?", Federal Baseball

Approximate signing: Kazmir.

[UPDATE 12/8: The Nationals got the guy they needed in Fister, and at an absurdly low price, too. I'd say they belong in the SEEMS SET category now.]

*

Rangers
Rotation: Darvish, Holland, Perez, Harrison (back). Swingman: Ogando. Depth: Tepesch.

Harrison, who had surgery on his back in September, is expected to be ready for spring training. Perez this fall made it the third year in a row the Rangers have extended a left-handed starter.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Marcum.

*

White Sox
Rotation: Sale, Quintana, Danks, Santiago, [Paulino]. Swingman: Axelrod. Depth: Johnson, Rienzo, Molina, Snodgress.

Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Floyd.

[UPDATE 12/16: The White Sox traded away Santiago, signed Paulino (who is recovering from TJS in 2012), and let Floyd leave via free agency. I'd definitely say they still need a guy.]

*

Phillies
Rotation: Lee, Hamels, Gonzalez, Kendrick, [Hernandez]. Depth: Pettibone, Martin, Biddle, [O'Sullivan].

The Phillies have declared their intentions to throw Cuban defector Gonzalez right into the rotation.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Hernandez.

[UPDATE 12/16: I got one right. Phillies sign Hernandez (Carmona). With too many question marks after the top two, I'd move them to "COULD USE A GUY", rather then "SEEMS SET".]

*

Blue Jays
Rotation: Dickey, Buehrle, Morrow, Happ. Swingman depth: Cecil, Rogers, Hutchison, Redmond. Other depth: Romero, Drabek, Nolin, Jenkins, Weber, Stroman, Sanchez.

There's a category of "Swingman depth" because they've tried and failed and yet have had to go back to so many guys. They've had such difficulty developing pitchers and keeping them healthy. While they're always willing to trade for guys, it seems they hate free agents, but maybe Anthopoulos' mind will be changed by this year's market.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Jimenez.

*

Rockies
Rotation: De La Rosa, Chacin, Chatwood, Nicasio, [Anderson]. Depth: [Lyles,] Pomeranz, Bettis, Friedrich, McHugh.

Their starting pitching situation looks more promising than it has in several years, but that's not saying much.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Garza.

[UPDATE 12/8: Was Lyles the guy they needed? Because that's the guy they got in return for Fowler this week. That puts Colorado in the SEEMS SET group, though really they can use all the depth they can get.]

[UPDATE 12/16: The trade for Anderson, despite meaning the loss of Pomeranz, places the Rockies firmly in the SEEMS SET set.]

*

Marlins
Rotation: Fernandez, Eovaldi, Turner, Alvarez. Depth: Koehler, Heaney, Nicolino, Conley, Flynn, DeSciafani, Hand, Dyson.

I might have let the Marlins follow the Astros into the "Could Use a Guy" section, but it seems to me they need to acquire more major league innings from somewhere.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signing: Hammel.

***


NEEDS MORE THAN A GUY -- 4 teams

Yankees
Rotation: Sabathia, [Kuroda,] Nova. Swingman: Phelps. Depth: Warren, Pineda (shoulder), Banuelos (TJS Oct. 2012).

Clearly the rotation is a gaping hole in the Yankees' roster. Re-signing Kuroda and winning the Tanaka sweepstakes are priorities this offseason. Even then they could still use help. Prospect Banuelos spent the year recovering from Tommy John at the end of the 2012 season. He will not play Winter Ball but does plan on being ready in the spring, and the same goes for Pineda. Encouragingly, by season's end Pineda's fastball had returned to the mid-nineties, but still the Yankees cannot exactly rely on him.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signings: Tanaka, Kuroda, Oswalt.

[UPDATE 12/8: Well, they signed Kuroda. I still think they need more than one guy, but we'll see. They might want to get a few more outfielders first.]

*

Twins
Rotation: Nolasco, Hughes, [Pelfrey]. Starting pitchers that are in their organization: Correia, Deduno, Worley, Albers, Gibson, Diamond, Hendriks, Johnson, May, Hermsen, Meyer. Farther away: Stewart, Berrios.

With Stewart, Meyer, and Berrios there at least appears to be a future percolating somewhere in their system. Nolasco, Hughes, and maybe another free agent or two will help bridge the gap, but yeah, they're building from scratch here.

Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signings: Arroyo, Pelfrey.

[UPDATE 12/16: The Twins sign Pelfrey. They've signed three pitchers, and still need more than a guy. It still amazes me.]

*

Cubs
Rotation: Samardzija, Jackson, Wood. Swingman: Villanueva. Depth: Arrieta, Rusin, Vizcaino (elbow), Grimm, Raley, Ramirez, Hendricks.

Since Samardzija has shrunk from the Cubs' efforts to extend him, they have considered trading him, and it may happen yet, although in the end they need to add pitching, not subtract it. Prospect Vizcaino has taken an extra year than normal to recover from TJS; his contribution next summer cannot be relied upon.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signings: E. Santana, Baker.

*

Mets
Rotation: Niese, Gee, Wheeler, [Colon]. Depth: Mejia, Montero, Torres, deGrom, Syndergaard, [Hefner (TJS in late August)].

Alas, no Harvey in 2014. The Mets have some money to spend this winter, but it is limited and their long-term needs remain offensive in nature.

MLBTR Offseason Outlook
MLBDepthCharts

Approximate signings: Capuano, J. Santana, Matsuzaka.

[UPDATE 12/16: The Mets have made a significant addition in Colon. I'd put them in NEEDS A GUY now. They also re-signed Hefner to a minor-league deal; he could be ready to contribute late in the season. Not yet arbitration eligible, Hefner will remain under team control and so is more about the future than 2014.]

***


So now here's a list of free agents according to MLBTR, minus Carpenter and Lilly, who have retired. I've separated them into two groups, the first one to meet the basic needs of the league, and the second to find roles in bullpens and minor league opportunities. The division is sketchy, and of course I could be wrong on either side.

Listed with the player is a team I've matched them to, according to their needs. And then they are arranged according to the order I discussed the teams, for easier reference.

ENVIABLE DEPTH (4) -- Red Sox, Cardinals, Rays, Diamondbacks
SEEMS SET (3) -- Dodgers, Athletics, Padres
ALL FULL, BUT IN NEED OF DEPTH (4) -- Tigers, Reds, Giants, Royals
COULD USE A GUY (3) -- Mariners, Pirates, Astros
NEEDS A GUY (12) -- Braves, Brewers, Indians, Orioles, Angels, Nationals, Rangers, White Sox, Phillies, Blue Jays, Rockies, Marlins
NEEDS MORE THAN A GUY (4) -- Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Mets

Free Agents:
Colon -- Mariners
Burnett -- Pirates
Chen -- Astros
Garcia -- Braves
Yoon -- Brewers
Maholm -- Indians
Feldman -- Orioles
Halladay -- Angels
Kazmir -- Nationals
Marcum -- Rangers
Floyd -- White Sox
Hernandez -- Phillies
Jimenez -- Blue Jays
Garza -- Rockies
Hammel -- Marlins
Tanaka -- Yankees
Kuroda -- Yankees
Oswalt -- Yankees
Arroyo -- Twins
Pelfrey -- Twins
E. Santana -- Cubs
Baker -- Cubs
Capuano -- Mets

Most all the needs of the league are met on the free agent market. There's one gap, in that I've only given the Mets Capuano; below I have them retaining Santana and Matsuzaka in one form or another. This could be an indication that there is room for introducing a guy like Dempster on the market, but the fit is tight.

Of course the trade market could be resorted to in search of upgrades (Price, Scherzer, Samardzija), but such trades wouldn't necessarily decrease the needs of the league in total vis-à-vis the free agents. If the Tigers or Cubs trade a pitcher, they would need to replace him, most likely. The Rays, it is true, are an exception, as they could replace Price internally. The Tigers similarly could use Smyly to replace Scherzer or Porcello, but this would eliminate their only depth; I would still recommend acquiring a starter for them in that situation.

But say the Rangers do something crazy and trade for Price, while not depleting their current stock of starters. Then whatever free agent pitcher they would have signed otherwise (Marcum, according to my exercise in approximation), would be an option for, say, the Mets that could be more attractive than, say, a Dempster.

Depth options (Bullpen or Minor league consideration):
Aceves
Bedard
Blackley
Francis -- Rockies
Garland
Gaudin
Harang
Jurrjens
Karstens
Lannan -- Giants
Marquis
Matsuzaka -- Mets
McDonald
Niemann -- Reds
O'Sullivan
Paulino -- Royals
Reynolds
Richard
J. Santana -- Mets
Saunders -- Tigers
Slowey
Volquez
Wada
Westbrook
Wang
Zito


Already signed:
Haren
Hudson
Hughes
Johnson
Nolasco
Vargas
Vogelsong
[Feldman, Kazmir, Kuroda, Colon, Floyd, Hernandez, Pelfrey, Volquez, Paulino, Marcum, O'Sullivan]

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