We looked a little this morning at the Nationals' possible payroll for 2012, considering the likely scenario they chase a pitcher this offseason. In the discussion following that post, several of you said you'd be leery of the Nationals chasing a pitcher like the Rangers' C.J. Wilson, if only because the price of pitching on the free agent market tends to be steep.
And as dangerous as it is to draw any trends from the four playoff teams remaining, the Tigers, Rangers, Cardinals and Brewers have largely gotten to this point more with pitching depth than with one overwhelming ace. The Tigers, with Justin Verlander, are obviously the exception to that rule, but Wilson is the only other pitcher on either of the four teams who had a regular season ERA below 3.39.
What all four teams do have is consistency; they've put together solid rotations that give them a chance to win most nights. And considering none of them have a payroll over $109 million, they've found a recipe for success with mid-market budgets.
So in light of that, is it worth it for the Nationals to go the free agent route? I'm not convinced Wilson's market will be a runaway bidding war, but if CC Sabathia doesn't opt out of his contract, Wilson will be the top name on the free agent market. The market has other options - I think the White Sox's Mark Buehrle could be worth a look - but most free agent starters will get longer or richer contracts than they'd otherwise be worth.
Some of you have suggested the Nationals don't even need to spend on another pitcher, saying they might have the starter they need if they re-sign Chien-Ming Wang. I still think it's worth getting another reliable pitcher, especially when Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann are both likely to finish short of 200 innings, but if Wang is truly healthy, he could be a cheap way to bolster the rotation.
What do you think? Is it worth delving into the free agent market for a pitcher, or are you leery of what that would cost? Let me know.