Checking in on more free agent pitching

With the Orioles in the market for starting pitching and possibly poised to add one or more hurlers from the free agent ranks, today we’ll take a look at two more possibilities.

To be clear, these are just some stats and notes on these pitchers and not my speculation - or anyone’s, for that matter - in terms of the Orioles' interest level in these pitchers. As you know, they keep such information very close to the vest.

MLBTradeRumors.com has ranked nine pitchers among its top 20 free agents for this winter. Here they are, listed by the ranking and also the projected contract for each.

* No. 6 lefty Carlos Rodón – five years, $140 million

* No. 7 right-hander Jacob deGrom – three years, $135 million

* No. 8 right-hander Justin Verlander – three years, $120 million

* No. 11 right-hander Kodai Senga – five years, $75 million

* No. 13 righty Chris Bassitt – three years, $60 million

* No. 14 right-hander Jameson Taillon – four years, $56 million

* No. 16 righty Taijuan Walker – four years, $52 million

* No. 17 left-hander Sean Manaea – four years, $52 million

* No. 18 left-hander Andrew Heaney - three years, $42 million

In this post recently, we took a look at Bassitt, Taillon and Walker. Today let’s add two to the list.

Senga: This right-hander from Japan is coming off a huge year in Nippon Professional Baseball for the SoftBank Hawks, and he is coming to the major leagues as a true free agent. No posting fee needed to add Senga. On the above list he is the fourth-highest-rated free agent pitcher.

This season, he went 11-6 with a 1.89 ERA while pitching in what is generally considered the second-best pro league in the world. Over 148 innings he allowed 104 hits and just seven home runs, with 50 walks and 159 strikeouts. He recorded 1.041 WHIP, allowing 0.4 homers per nine innings with a 3.0 walk rate and 9.7 strikeout rate. His walk percentage was 8.8, and his K percentage was 27.5.

Your mileage may vary on scouting reports on Senga, and one said his fastball averaged just under 96 mph this year. But MLBTradeRumors.com said his fastball is more an upper-90s pitch that touched 102 this season. His split-finger pitch is said to be a real good one and had one of the best whiff rates in Japan. He also throws solid pitches in a cutter and slider.

A three-time All-Star in NPB, some see him as mid-rotation starter in the majors, and others think he has a bigger ceiling than that. Senga is 104-51 for his career in Japan over 1,340 innings with 1.096 WHIP, a 3.4 walk rate and a 10.0 strikeout rate. Senga will turn 30 on Jan. 30.

Agent Joel Wolfe spoke about Senga with reporters at the recent general managers meetings in Las Vegas.

“Senga’s very open minded and would like to play in a big market with a team that wants to try and win right now," Wolfe said. "He has a great deal of interest in being in a big market.” That sentiment seems to work against the Orioles being his destination for next year, but we’ll see what develops for Senga over the next few weeks.

Manaea: Manaea is a lefty with a decent track record, but the contract projection here seems a bit high for me, based on a very shaky second half in 2022. Right before opening day the longtime member of the Oakland Athletics was traded to San Diego. In 30 games this season he went 8-9 with a 4.96 ERA in 158 innings. That produced an ERA plus of just 75 to go with 1.297 WHIP, a 2.8 walk rate and an 8.9 strikeout rate.

Manaea, who turns 31 on Feb. 1, pitched to a 4.11 ERA and 1.232 WHIP in the first half. But those numbers were 6.44 and 1.413 in the second half for San Diego, and Manaea twice had games when he allowed eight runs. In one playoff appearance against the Philadelphia Phillies, he yielded five runs in 1 1/3 innings. This was quite different from his solid 2021 year with Oakland, when he was 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA, producing a 105 ERA plus.

He also produced big splits swings in 2022, allowing a batting average of just .187 and OPS against of .599 versus lefty batters, which was impressive. But the average allowed of .273 with an .815 OPS versus right-handed batters was much less so.

Taken No. 34 overall out of Indiana State in the 2013 draft by Kansas City, Manaea used his two-seam fastball 61 percent of the time last year and averaged 91.2 mph. He threw his changeup 25 percent and opponents slugged .528 against that pitch, and he used his slider 14 percent.

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