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Free Agent Starting Pitchers

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on November 8, 2006

There aren’t a lot of options for clubs looking for starting pitching this winter, and since no team in baseball is fully satisfied withtheir five-man setup, not even the Chicago White Sox or Detroit Tigers, it’s worse this winter than usual.

As the Seattle Mariners attempt to improve their biggest weakness, they will have an immense amount of competition for the services of the best available arms in the league. But make no mistake about it, the M’s will be in on every quality arm on the market, whether it makes sense for them or not.

Well, until Zito demands $14 million per for six years and the M’s start knocking down the doors of Ted Lilly, Mark Mulder and Vicente Padilla.Last winter we sat back and cringed as the club inked Jarrod Washburn to No. 2 starter cash when everyone and their blind galactical twin knew he wasn’t worth but half of his $37 million pact.

And here we are again, in a similar position. The M’s need quality arms and there isn’t much to choose from after the first half-dozen, and half of those options are non-options, such as Roger Clemens, who will certainly only play for New York, Boston or Houston, and Andy Pettitte, who’s just as unlikely to come to Seattle as Clemens, aren’t options at all, and now neither is a Japanese star… yet.

There have been rumors, baseless to this point however, but rumors nonetheless, that Matsuzaka and Boras are not automatically assuming that a deal will be reached with the winning bidder over the next 30 days.

Boras loves to play games with the market, often putting one club up against another in a fight for one of his players to get the absolute most money possible.

Well, the only way he can do that with the biggest Japanese migration to date, is for Daisuke to return to Japane for one more year and have him hit the market next year when he can choose any club… and pit several against each other in a true bidding war.

There have also been whispers about the possibility that a few teams might be willing to part with big time talent to trade for Matsuzaka once he’s signed on the dotted line, in a sort of sign-and-trade scenario, which is not at all prohibited in the posting process.

None of the above is very likely at all, as it’s probably just posturing to get more dough out of the Yankees, both for the Seibu Liones and for Matsuzaka, but it’s interesting anyways.

Starting Pitchers
Mariners Factor
Daisuke Matsuzaka, RH
26 0% – Some believe the M’s DID bid… Fifty percent Yankee, 20 percent Dodger, but 5% Seibu Lion?
Jason Schmidt, RH
34 70% – A slam dunk, barring cold feet. Worth three and 25, will probably get four and 45. Yikes.
Andy Pettitte, LH 34 0% – Houston, New York (both) or retirement? I’m thinking he goes back to the Stros for one more year.
Adam Eaton, RH
29 20% – Three guaranteed years? No thanks. If he doesn’t sign with M’s, he’s probably NL bound. SF? SD?
Roger Clemens, RH 44 0% – Who cares anymore? He should retire, for my sake. I’m tired of all the talk.
Greg Maddux, RH
40 0% -Not a fit on a developing club. Seems like LAD is the place he ends up. Maybe the Pads sneak in.
Jason Marquis, RH 28 10% – The NL’s version of Mech.e
Stay in the NL, JMar, where you have a chance.
Gil Meche, RH 28 15% – M’s haven’t ruled out offering 2 years. Toronto might offer three years and $8 mil per… oh, JP.
Ted Lilly, LH 31 10% – Might be a decent fit, but unexciting. Yankees, Mets, Phillies and Giants have interest, too.
Jeff Suppan, RH 32 5% – May get $8 mil per after game 7 heroics. Jays are in on this clown, too. FireJP.com.
Tomo Ohka, RH 31 5% – Might be a good value for the back end.
Giants, Cards, A’s, Astros and, yes, the Blue Jays have all called.
Jeff Weaver, RH 30 0% – Hopefully my connections are right.
May get the big offer he wanted last winter… for no good reason.
The Zito, LH
28 0% – No way they spend that kind of money. Most say NYY or NYM, I say LAD and Boston are the sleepers.
Vicente Padilla, RH 29 5% – Undervalued, then overpaid. He’ll get Meche money, maybe more after okay year. Yuck.
Chan Ho Park, RH
33 1% – I don’t want to say NEVER… For cheap, someone might get a decent fourth starter.
Kip Wells, RH 29 0% – Can’t stay healthy…
Someone’s NRI… not in Seattle, however.
Orlando Hernandez, RH 37 0% – He’s 98 years old… … but can pitch some when healthy. A Mets return?
Tony Armas, RH
28 10% – Asking for 3/24. Riccardi is salivating. My new site — TheJayswastecash.org.
Mark Mulder, LH
29 1% – A January signing?
Giants, Mets and Cards might offer three years.

The M’s will probably have a differing level of interest on a lot of guys, even some not mentioned above – such as Randy Wolf, Rodrigo Lopez, Mark Redman, John Thomson, Tim Redding, Kei Igawa – but it’s difficult to tell how serious Bill Bavasi and company will ultimately be about back-end starters… even Lilly, Ohka and Eaton.

There’s no chance that Zito lands in an M’s uniform, we all know that, but Schmidt is a real possibility and would lead the club probably looking to make a deal for one more arm, such as a Jeremy Reed, Yorman Bazardo, Justin Thomas-for-Jason Jennings deal.

With all of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the M’s rotation, it’s frustrating to look at the free agent market and try and figure out how the club can add quality arms without grossly overpaying – again.

They have to add at least two starters from outside the organization, and not a soul in the universe believes it’ll come cheap.

Sadly, everyone is right.

Other trade targets may include Matt Clement, Doug Davis, Brandon Backe, Derek Lowe and Nate Robertson, but money, injury or the lack of impact darken those clouds, don’t they?

If the M’s ink Schmidt to a contract of more than three years and upwards of $10 million, it’s going to be a terrible offseason for the Hometown Nine.


27 Responses to “Free Agent Starting Pitchers”

  1. 2quarters said

    0% – Some believe the M’s DID bid…


  2. 2quarters said

    ALso, what about Igawa?

  3. Jason A. Churchill said

    Igawa is on their radar, it’s just tough to tell how much they like him and how much they think he’s worth.

    Most think if the M’s want him, they’ll get him, but it’ll come down to the green – again.

  4. Goose said

    Sigh, I’m starting to slightly lean towards the “punt 2007, play to win in 2008” camp, because what once looked like a promising offseason, looks to be very grim.

    Unfortunaly, we all know this is Bavasi(and Hargrove’s) last chance, so they can’t afford to do so.

  5. Adam said

    I’m all for Padilla – more than Schmidt, in fact. He’s shown he can pitch in the AL (in Arlington, of all places!), and frankly, I like the nasty streak (not to mention his nasty stuff.

    I’m also wondering if we can’t pull a deal for Pittsburgh’s Pat Maholm. He’s young, cheap, and keeps the ball in the yard. Pittsburgh could actually part with pitching, so I am wondering if we couldn’t offer Jeremy Reed/Bazardo or something along those lines.

    Finish it off with either Eaton (two years, club option for third) or Lopez, and I think the rotation will be okay:


    Beats what we had last year…

  6. Baseballistic said

    Padilla? I don’t think he fits into the M’s 2007+ picture at all. He’s going to get much more than he’s worth and he’s a #3 starter who’s probably going to get a job as a #2.

    By the way, JP Ricciardi deserves to get fired if he’s truly interested in all that junk; unless of course he can pay their salaries in Canadian dollars.

    I like the prospect of Wade Miller you brought up in the other post…how come he didn’t make your Starting Pitchers profile?

    The one guy I think everyone underestimates, who could become a solid addition is Mark Redman. He’s shown he can pitch and though he had a rough season in KC, well, who doesn’t pitch badly in KC?

    By the way, what do you think Matsuzaka will cost the Yanks financially (if they get him) and what (if any) impact do you think it’ll have on NYY’s decision to keep Mussina or not?

  7. Goose said

    I thought the Yanks and Mussina were already close on a 2 year, $20-24 Million deal or so?

  8. The purpose of the list above was to address the most mentioned names, and since I already spoke of Miller before, I didn’t see the point.

    Early next week I’ll have a list of top values at each position as well as a list of biggest risks, and Miller may end up on both.

    I think the winning posting fee is going to be anywhere from 24-28 million and DM’s contract is likely to be 3-5 years at 11+ mil per. So, I guess that’s a bare minimum of 62 million bucks.

    Boras may SEEK a three-year deal as opposed to a five year pact and negotiate free agency at the end of it by demanding the team agrees to non-tender Matsuzaka after the third year (which in essence, makes any player in that scenario a free agent), so DM can get another big payday while he’s still under 30.

    If it goes to five year, he could get 12 mil per, which in turn makes the total investment more like 75 million minimum.

    DM isn’t worth that kind of money, but who is?

    Maybe Johan and Pujols.


    Mussina is CLOSE on a 2 year deal, but I am hearing it’s not 24 mil guaranteed.

  9. Matthew C said

    Didn’t Redding just get picked up by the Nats?

  10. Matthew C said

    Also, I’m hearing that Daisuke would actually not be a FA until after 2008 season, and that Seibu is having finance trouble and will take any bid.

  11. pensive said

    Is there any truth to the many rumours the Tigers under value Bonderman and will trade him for a bat? Would Sexson be a decent fit for the Tigers?

  12. Adam said

    Also, re: Maholm

    His GB rates for the last two years are 55%…

    Very good.

  13. JI said

    a deal for one more arm, such as a Jeremy Reed, Yorman Bazardo, Justin Thomas-for-Jason Jennings deal.

    Sign me up.

    Also, what do you think it would take to land Lowe?

  14. Goose said

    Well, the talk of Wade Miller is now moot as he just resigned with the Cubs for another year.

  15. bdf said

    Jason, if the M’s might have been willing to look at a guy with injury history like Wade Miller, do you think they might show any interest in Mulder or Kerry Wood?

  16. Goose said

    Speaking of free agents, JD Drew just opted out of his contract with the Dodgers and is now a free agent.

    He’s got really good on base skills, is a decent to good right fielder, has been relatively injury free the last 3 years(aside from a broken hand from a HBP)and has already shown good power in the pitchers park in LA.

    Gotta say I’d live the idea of him in right field and in the 3 hole. He’d be a good bet to at least put up a .280/.380/.480 line in Safeco.

  17. Problem with Drew — I’m in a Boston cafe and as soon as the news ran on the bottom of the ESPN ticker, the cafe lit up with “do you think the Sox will try to sign him”?

    Unfortunately for the Mariners, the bidding on Drew will be sky-high and he has said before he’d rather go east than stay west.

    It’s the BoSox, Mets, and Orioles who I think will try hardest to sign him.

  18. The Mets have ZERO interest in Drew. They are after a second baseman (Hudson, Giles) and at least two starting pitchers.

    They’ll have the need for an outfielder, but they aren’t likely to spend big money getting one.

    I think Drew lands in LAA, Boston or one of the Chicagos.

  19. Re: Wood, Mulder

    Not likely, and the reason is money.

    Miller isn’t going to command big dollars, Mulder is looking for 3+ years at 8 mil or more per season.

    Wood isn’t likely to settle for some 2 mil incentive-laden offer, especially in Seattle. He can get that back home in Houston or Arlington.

  20. Word is that Igawa will be posted today… No firm reports yet though.

  21. It’s official now. Igawa issssss possstteeeeed!

  22. Pslim said

    JD Drew solves all our offensive and defensive problems all at once. Too bad Seattle isn’t an option.

    Miller re-signed with the Cubs. Bummer. I’m confident that between Baek & co. we’ll find someone just as good anyway.

  23. Willmore said

    Per ESPN:

    “Olney is reporting that the Red Sox may have posted the top bid with a figure between $38 million and $45 million, according to Major League Baseball officials who are monitoring the bidding.”

    That’s just insane.

  24. Rick said

    Translated report of Igawa’s performance against the U.S. team the other day:

    Scout position of the measure which encamps in the stand gave high appraisal in Ikawa. The Takahashi scout says of Igawa, “change up was good. Three swings which are taken from Howard were splendid “, that applause. Ikawa’s main weapon is the change up, it passes even in the top rank of measure. As for Department Manager large pacific scout of 3 tenths, as for holding down the batting line-up where the batter of 30 home runs has lined up in a row, very thing” and, the passing point was attached to the result of 6 time 2 mistakes. 6 Annie Oakley and the point where it suffered from system sphere, Braves’s Oya scout considers, “the ball as for being slipped (probably is) the difference of feel of use sphere”, that conveys present pitch contents to the headquarters “as up-to-date information, but appraisal does not change to his. It is the splendid pitcher “, that, you had declared. (2006 November 8th 06:02 sport information))

    I think what that means is that he has a great change-up and kept the MLB hitters off stride with it.

  25. Rick said

    A lefty change-up artist….seems like a great fit for the M’s. 🙂

  26. One M’s front office member categorized the club’s interest in Igawa as “more than just luke warm”, but they may get priced out of Kei’s services, too.

    If the bidding goes in the 10 mil neighborhood and his salary is, say, 6 mil per for three years, you have to ask yourself, “is Kei Igawa worth 28 mil over three seasons?”

    The answer is probably a big giant no.

    I’d bid on him, but I would NOT go over 5 million.

  27. Justin said

    I dont think the M’s are going to sign any big names guy this year, Because we dont wanna spend the money to do it also i think the m’s are going see what are young guys got this season what do you guys think???

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