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The arrival of Major League Baseball's offseason means that, among other things, it's now the time of the year when we're going to be ranking all kinds of things -- free agents, prospects, and so on. The process got underway earlier this month, when we rolled out our annual free-agent rankings. This year's list ran 60 deep, a nod toward the bloated free-agent class that resulted from teams declining affordable club options in a fiscally conservative response to the pandemic.

Continuing today, we'll be taking the next step with our free-agent rankings, breaking things down on a position-by-position basis. That process carries on with our top 10 starting pitchers. Note: Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman were among the 10 best starters in our top 60 rankings, but they both accepted qualifying offers from the Mets and Giants, respectively.

Free-agent starter rankings
1
Trevor Bauer Cincinnati Reds SP
(No. 3 overall) Heading into the 2020 season, Bauer's career numbers held an uncanny resemblance to those posted by A.J. Burnett through the same period of his career. He created separation this season, amassing a 1.73 ERA and a 5.88 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 11 starts and 73 innings. Bauer has long had the stuff and, according to his press clippings, the intelligence to be a frontline starter. He's now put together the results supporting that notion in two of the past three seasons. Can he keep it up? That's one of a few questions teams will have to answer, beginning with how he improved his spin rate just a few years after implying it was possible only through the use of substances . Another one is whether he's compatible on a long-term deal. Bauer fell out of favor in both Arizona and Cleveland, and he hasn't always covered himself in glory on social media . Weather changes moods just as sure as Sturgill changes words ; if Bauer wants to follow suit, changing his perception into a staff leader in every sense of the term, then he'll need to do more than continue to pitch well.
2
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Masahiro Tanaka New York Yankees SP
(No. 10 overall) It's hard to envision the Yankees allowing Tanaka to sign with another team. Why would they? He's been a reliable, above-average starter for years, and he just turned 32 on Nov. 1.
3
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James Paxton New York Yankees SP
(No. 18 overall) There's an alternate reality out there where Paxton is in a better place after staying healthy and having his normal season. (Heck, we'd all be in a better place under those conditions.) Unfortunately, this aspect of his existence saw him lose three miles off his fastball and pitch just 20 innings before being shut down because of a flexor strain. There's no telling where the injury leaves him heading forward, meaning the range of potential outcomes here stretches from someone who is an above-average starter to someone who has a Tommy John surgery scar.
4
Adam Wainwright St. Louis Cardinals SP
(No. 22 overall) Wainwright did some television work during the postseason. One has to think that he'll either return to the Cardinals , or that he'll go sign with FOX or ESPN or whomever. If this is the end, kudos to him for turning in one last good season -- and for finding a way to tie for the major-league lead in complete games at the age of 38.
5
Charlie Morton Tampa Bay Rays SP
(No. 23 overall) Morton has claimed that he would retire if the Rays did not pick up his option. They did not do so, meaning the ball is in his court. He's pitched well enough over the past few seasons to merit both a rotation spot and a ranking. Maybe a World Series loss will cause him to regain the itch?
6
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Jake Odorizzi Minnesota Twins SP
(No. 27 overall) Odorizzi accepted the qualifying offer a year ago, delaying his arrival to the open market by a winter. Alas, he's probably going to have to settle for another one-year pact after making trips to the injured list because of an intercoastal strain, a chest contusion, and a blister. (At least none of them were arm-related?) Odorizzi has never had issues with durability in the past, and has demonstrated that he can be an effective mid-rotation starter on the strength of his fastball and splitter. He should be able to find work as someone's No. 3 or No. 4 starter, with the hope that he can have a good enough season to land a multi-year deal around this time in 2021.
7
Taijuan Walker Seattle Mariners SP
(No. 28 overall) Walker missed almost the entirety of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, meaning his 11-game stint this past season (split between Seattle and Buffalo, uh ... Toronto) represented his first real opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of his reworked arm action. He made the most of the chance, averaging five innings per pop while accumulating a 2.70 ERA and a 2.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Walker's fastball clocked in around 93 mph and remained his best bat-missing weapon, as it evaded lumber 23 percent of the time -- or, for comparison's sake, about as frequently as the heaters thrown by Tyler Glasnow , Max Fried , and Mike Clevinger . He doesn't have another big-time bat misser in his arsenal, but he does have the willingness to throw most of his other pitches, especially his splitter and curve, to lefties and righties alike. While that doesn't sound like much, it does give him the ability to show each individual batter three or four looks. Provided he stays healthy, he should slot in as someone's fourth starter.
8
Mike Minor Texas Rangers SP
(No. 29 overall) From the surface, Minor's season looks pretty bad. He had a 5.56 ERA; he lost nearly two miles per hour off his heater; and he yielded 11 home runs in 56 innings. For as worrisome as all of that is, there are some reasons to think he can be a viable back-end starter heading forward. That velocity loss didn't render his fastball worthless; opponents actually posted a lower batting average (.230) and higher whiff rate (24.6 percent) than they did the previous season. His strikeout, walk, and hit rates were all in line with what he did in 2019, and his exit velocity increased all of 0.6 mph. His biggest issue, then, was the long ball -- and six of the 11 came on sliders, suggesting that the key for him is either tightening the pitch, moving away from it, or having better luck next year. Given Minor's recent history, he's worth a gamble.
9
Corey Kluber Texas Rangers SP
(No. 30 overall) Kluber's stint with the Rangers lasted all of one inning, as he required season-ending shoulder surgery. He's thrown fewer than 700 pitches since Opening Day 2019, but it's a certainty that some team will sign him with the hope that he can bounce back. Kluber was one of the top pitchers in baseball before his recent health woes, so he's worth taking a shot on.
10
Jose Quintana Chicago Cubs SP
(No. 52 overall) Quintana's 2020 was all but a wash, as he was limited to just four appearances by thumb and lat issues. He hasn't been as effective as he was with the White Sox, yet since the start of the 2018 season he has a 98 ERA+ and a 2.75 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Some team will gladly give him a low-cost, one-year deal and see if he can occupy a spot at the back of the rotation.