Over the last few weeks, we have taken a look at nine different free agent starting pitchers in three different entries here. Today, let’s take another look and rank them one through nine.
I’m ranking mostly on my opinion of their talent level, while also taking into consideration the contract terms that might be needed to get it done. Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are not on the list. It would be a real surprise if the Orioles are willing to commit to the years and dollars those two will likely get.
1) Alex Cobb: The right-hander, who will be 30 on opening day, was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA for the Rays. His ERA was 4.52 after his first 12 starts. But in his last 17, Cobb went 8-5 with an ERA of 3.07. A concern is he had Tommy John surgery in May 2015. He’s never made more than 30 starts or thrown over 180 innings. One projection had him getting a four-year deal worth $48 million. I think he could get more, possibly much more.
2) Lance Lynn: He went 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA in 33 starts for the Cardinals and ranked sixth in the National League with an average against of .223 and was seventh in ERA. Lynn missed all of the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in November 2015. He also allowed a career-high 27 homers and ranked second in the NL in walks with a walk rate of 3.5 per nine innings. Lynn may also get a four-year deal.
3) Tyler Chatwood: This right-hander with a 95 mph fastball pitched for the Rockies and was a different pitcher on the road. Overall last season, he went 8-15 with a 4.69 ERA. He went 3-8 with a 6.01 ERA and a .302 average against at home. On the road, he was 5-7 with a 3.49 ERA and a .200 average against. His road ERA the last two years is 2.57, which ranks fifth in the NL. If he could be had for three years at $20 million, as MLBTradeRumors.com projected, most teams would probably take a hard look here. What could he do pitching outside Coors Field?
4) CC Sabathia: He might rank higher than fourth on my list, but my question is how can he possibly keep pitching this well at his age? But his ERA is on a three-season decrease, from 5.28 in 2014 to 4.73 in 2015 to 3.91 in 2016. Over 27 starts and 148 2/3 innings last season, he went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA and a WHIP of 1.271. His ERA and WHIP were his lowest since 2012. This can’t possibly continue, can it?
5) Andrew Cashner: After pitching to ERAs of 4.34 in 2015 and 5.25 in 2016, he went 11-11 with an ERA of 3.40 over 166 2/3 innings for the Rangers. That ranked as the ninth-best ERA in the American League, and he ranked second in homers/nine innings (0.8), seventh in pitches per inning (15.8) and seventh in groundball percentage (49). That all sounds good, but is he going to pitch like he did last year or as he did in the two previous seasons? Plus, he has made 30 starts just once in his career.
6) Jhoulys Chacin: The Venezuelan right-hander will be 30 on opening day 2018 and is coming off a solid year for the Padres. He went 13-10 with a 3.89 ERA over 32 starts and 180 1/3 innings. He allowed 7.8 hits per nine innings with a walk rate of 3.6 and strikeout rate of 7.6. He did have a much better home record pitching in Petco Park. He went 9-3 with a 1.79 ERA and .175 average against in 16 home starts. He went 4-7 with a 6.53 ERA and .302 average in 16 road starts. He is probably not going to get more than a two-year deal.
7) Jason Vargas: The lefty, who will be 35 opening day, went 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA for the Royals over 32 starts and 179 2/3 innings. Vargas was much worse after the All-Star break. Before the All-Star Game, he went 12-3 with a 2.62 ERA and .244 average against. But after the break, Vargas was 6-8 with an ERA of 6.38 and .292 average against. The radar gun is not a fan as he averages just 87 mph on his four-seamer.
8) Miguel González: In 27 starts between the White Sox and Rangers, he went 8-13 with a 4.62 ERA over 156 innings. He allowed 9.4 hits per nine innings with a homer rate of 1.3, a walk rate of 3.2 and a rate of 5.8 strikeouts for every nine frames. He was very solid for the Orioles at one time. And while it would fun to be hear him say “splitty” again during postgame interviews, we are probably not likely to see a reunion here.
9) Jaime García: The left-hander was traded twice within a week last July. First, he went from the Braves to the Twins and then to the Yankees. For the year, he went 5-10 with an ERA of 4.41 over 157 innings with a 1.408 WHIP. OK, he doesn’t look great on the stat sheet. And in his eight starts for the Yankees at the end of the year, he was 0-3 with a 4.82 ERA and 1.634 WHIP. But he does have a career 3.69 ERA and a walk-rate of 2.8 per nine. Perhaps I’ve rated him too low here and he could get a two-year deal. García was actually once an O’s draft pick, taken in the 30th round in 2004, but he did not sign.
Duquette on the radio: Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was the guest last night on the “Orioles Hot Stove Show” on O’s flagship radio station 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore. The topics included Zach Britton, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and more, and included Duquette’s take that the club is not in a rebuilding mode right now. Click here to check out some of his thoughts and quotes.