|Greinke heads up the starting pitching free-agent class. (US Presswire)|
After staggering through the awful free-agent classes in the infield positions, we're finally into the area with some pretty good options. Sure, this isn't quite the class that it could have been, now that Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, John Danks and James Shields aren't here, but there are still several solid options.
Let's take a look at the top 15 starting pitchers on the market this free agency period.
He was the crown jewel of trade season last July, and here he is again at the top. The 2009 AL Cy Young winner will garner tons of interest from several possible landing spots, but I expect a Battle of Los Angeles as the endgame here.
The lingering memory of Lohse right now is his awful outing in Game 7 of the NLCS, where he coughed up five runs on six hits in just two innings. But 2012 was still his career year. Buyer beware, though, as Lohse's advanced stats (3.51 FIP, .262 BABIP, 3.96 xFIP) suggest he enjoyed some pretty good fortune in 2012.
Will he join his eighth different team before the age of 30? There's obviously a chance. Jackson won't turn 30 until next September, and he has already played for the Rays, Dodgers, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Tigers and Nationals. He's well-suited for a three or four spot in a rotation.
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He's only below Jackson due to age, as Kuroda will be 38 before next season begins. Getting Kuroda on a one-year deal would end up being one of the better signings of this free agency period.
In 43 starts the past two seasons, McCarthy has a nice 3.29 ERA and a 4.0 K/BB ratio, even though he's not a strikeout pitcher. The only worry here is McCarthy's inability to stay healthy. We can't blame him for the freak accident that was him getting hit in the head. But aside from that, he has had several DL stints.
He really came into his own down the stretch and in the postseason. In his last 11 starts, including the postseason, Sanchez had a 2.04 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with 62 strikeouts and 13 walks in 74 2/3 innings. Someone's going to pay for that production from a 29-year-old, and I believe it'll be the Tigers.
He really helped out the Cubs by making himself an incredibly attractive trade chip with a 2.25 ERA through 16 starts, but then he kind of screwed the Cubs by exercising his no-trade rights and nixing a deal that would've landed the Cubs Randall Delgado. Dempster then had a pretty rough go in the AL (if you ignore his record, which you should in small samples).
8. Shaun Marcum | 2012 team: Brewers
2012 stats: 7-4, 3.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 109 K, 41 BB, 124 IP
He's helpful when completely healthy, as he was for the 2011 Brewers in the regular season. I feel like he's going to be a bargain for whichever team signs him.
9. Dan Haren | 2012 team: Angels
2012 stats: 12-13, 4.33 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 142 K, 38 BB, 176 2/3 IP, 1 CG, 1 SHO
He wasn't horrible away from Coors Field (4.35 ERA, 1.40 WHIP), so there's that.
He closed strong for the Royals, sporting a 2.19 ERA in his last seven starts.
The aforementioned advanced stats (3.91 FIP, .310 BABIP, 3.39 xFIP) suggest Blanton was a bit unfortunate in 2012, meaning there could be a course correction in 2013.
13. Scott Feldman | 2012 team: Rangers
2012 stats: 6-11, 5.09 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 96 K, 32 BB, 123 2/3 IP
He has appeared in 103 games as a reliever and made 101 starts. His line as a starter: 34-39, 4.84 ERA, 1.40 WHIP.
14. Freddy Garcia | 2012 team: Yankees
2012 stats: 7-6, 5.20 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 89 K, 35 BB, 107 1/3 IP
Sweaty Freddy is now 36 and coming off an awful season. He'll get a one-year deal worth very little money (relatively speaking, of course, as it's far more money than most of us can ever imagine making).
Those are Baker's stats from 2011 because he missed all of 2012 due to having Tommy John surgery in April. He won't be ready for the start of the 2013 season. Still, he has pretty good upside, and I'd love signing him on the cheap.