The free agent market has been nearly dead since Masahiro Tanaka was posted by the Rakutan Eagles in December. But now that Tanaka has signed a 7-year $155million deal with the New York Yankees there's going to be a lot more action in a short period of time.
The left over major contenders for Tanaka: the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mariners and even some smaller less-likely contenders like the Toranto Blue Jays or the Chicago White Sox, for example, are going to be scrambling to get the good players who have been waiting to sign with a team. Scarily enough, even with the signing of Tanaka, the Yankees could still be in the mix. With the amount of money they've been spending what's a little more for another starter to help out their aging rotation?
Of those starting pitchers who are still free-agents four stand out: Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Bronson Arroyo.
- Ervin Santana is a right handed pitcher who played for the Royals last season. He has been one of the most reliable pitchers in baseball with the exception of 2012. He posted a 3.24 ERA in 30 games last season. He has had an ERA below 4.00 in three of the last four years. So his potential to do well is certainly high. His value has been diminished slightly this off season as most interested teams with the exception of the Blue Jays would have to give up a first round draft pick to sign him. The bottom 11 teams in the league have protected first round draft picks so they would only have to give up a second round pick for Santana.
- Ubaldo Jimenez was considered one of the best pitchers in the game until he had some major problems in the end of the 2011 season and most of the next season. Jimenez bounced back in 2013 posting a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts with the Indians. Even though he made a comeback last season Jimenez could be considered a risk because he has control issues. Last season he walked 80 batters in 182 2/3 innings. He could be a liabilty but he's overall ERA stands well for itself. The right handed Dominican might just be lucky enough to grab a spot on someone's big league roster.
- Matt Garza, well there are a lot of things I would like to say about Matt Garza but I will stick with his stats unfortunately I cannot be biased here. One, the guy can pitch period. Last season with the Rangers he started 24 games and posted a 3.82 ERA. But there are health question regarding the 28 year old right hander. He was injured part of last season and there are always the questions of his temper and erratic behavior. Here is what I was not going to mention this but it should make a difference to the club who signs him. Last year he went on a well documented tirade on Twitter against Oakland's Eric Sogard and his wife Kaycee, making him look, at best, a bit unstable. It was all over a bunt. So regardless of how Garza can pitch he has his downfalls as well.
- Bronson Arroyo could be a catch for any team. He reportedly had a deal with the Twins in the works but it never panned out. So here he is still on the market just a month away from Spring Training. He's one of the most durable pitchers in the league, pitching at least 200 innings in all but one of the past nine seasons. In 2011 he missed that mark by one inning. Here's the issue most teams will have with Arroyo, he is seeking a three year deal at the age of 37 and most clubs won't want to put too much money into that kind of risk. But in reality a lot of pitchers, including starters, have been pitching into their 40's. It's not exactly a new thing. Yet the age factor can sometimes go a long way when deals are being made.
So now the question remains who is going to end up where?