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Oakland A's still seeking starter: Available free agents

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Could a Bartolo Colon reunion be on the horizon?
Could a Bartolo Colon reunion be on the horizon?
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The A's want one more starter if the price is right. So who's left on the board at the right price with the A's around a $77 million payroll? I've divided this year's free agent starting pitchers into four categories: Way out of Oakland's league, the veterans you're looking for, bounce back candidates, and "no, please no." Statistics are from FanGraphs.

Too expensive in cash or draft picks

The top echelon of pitchers were those out of reach whether it be to due to too many years and too much money for each of them, or losing Oakland's competitive balance round draft pick for an older pitcher with a qualifying offer attached to him.

Notes Contract
2016
Age
2015 2013-15
G GS IP Per 9 innings ERA FIP WAR IP ERA FIP WAR
K BB HR
David Price 7/$217 30 32 32 220.1 9.2 1.9 0.7 2.45 2.78 6.4 655.1 3.01 2.85 16.9
Zack Greinke QO 6/$206.5 32 32 32 222.2 8.1 1.6 0.6 1.66 2.76 5.9 602.2 2.30 2.97 13.6
Johnny Cueto 30 32 32 212.0 7.5 2.0 0.9 3.44 3.53 4.1 516.1 2.81 3.45 9.5
John Lackey QO 2/$32 37 33 33 218.0 7.2 2.2 0.9 2.77 3.57 3.6 605.1 3.35 3.73 8.4
J. Zimmermann QO 5/$110 30 33 33 201.2 7.3 1.7 1.1 3.66 3.75 3.0 614.2 3.19 3.27 12.0
Wei-Yin Chen QO 30 31 31 191.1 7.2 1.9 1.3 3.34 4.16 2.8 514.0 3.61 4.03 7.2
Jeff Samardzija QO 5/$90 31 32 32 214.0 6.9 2.1 1.2 4.96 4.23 2.7 647.1 4.09 3.73 9.5
Yovani Gallardo QO 30 33 33 184.1 5.9 3.3 0.7 3.42 4.00 2.5 557.1 3.70 3.95 6.7
Hisashi Iwakuma QO 3/$45 35 20 20 129.2 7.7 1.5 1.3 3.54 3.74 1.8 528.1 3.17 3.45 8.6
Marco Estrada QO 2/$26 32 34 28 181.0 6.5 2.7 1.2 3.13 4.40 1.8 459.2 3.74 4.41 3.6
Mike Leake 28 30 30 192.0 5.6 2.3 1.0 3.70 4.20 1.7 598.2 3.59 4.03 6.0
Ian Kennedy QO 31 30 30 168.1 9.3 2.8 1.7 4.28 4.51 0.8 550.2 4.25 4.06 4.9

MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes projected that Wei-Yin Chen will earn a contract on the scale of five years and $80 million, Gallardo four years and $52 million. Mike Leake, who was ineligible for a qualifying offer due to his midseason trade, was projected at five years and $80 million. Ian Kennedy is also subject to the qualifying offer.

I'd probably add Japan's Kenta Maeda to this list here, too. Maeda had a projected total outlay (including the $20 million posting fee) of $80 million for a five-year contract.

The veteran mid-tier

Manager Bob Melvin said at the Winter Meetings the sort of pitcher he'd be looking for to help out his rotation is, "more of a veteran-type guy, and maybe not even a production guy. ... It's more taking the pressure off some of the younger guys." The following pitchers would potentially be in that sweet spot in terms of a veteran starter who has been reliable the last few years, but is the price low enough for Oakland?

Contract
2016
Age
2015 2013-15
G GS IP Per 9 innings ERA FIP WAR IP ERA FIP WAR
K BB HR
J.A. Happ 3/$36 33 32 31 172.0 7.9 2.4 0.8 3.61 3.41 3.3 422.2 4.05 3.93 5.4
Colby Lewis 36 33 33 204.2 6.2 1.9 1.1 4.66 4.17 2.6 375.0 4.90 4.31 3.7
Bartolo Colon 43 33 31 194.2 6.3 1.1 1.2 4.16 3.84 2.5 587.1 3.65 3.55 9.2
Scott Kazmir 32 31 31 183.0 7.6 2.9 1.0 3.10 3.98 2.4 531.1 3.54 3.61 8.2
Mark Buehrle 37 32 32 198.2 4.1 1.5 1.0 3.81 4.26 2.1 604.1 3.78 4.01 7.5
Rich Hill 1/$6 36 4 4 29.0 11.2 1.6 0.6 1.55 2.27 1.1 73.0 4.19 3.20 1.3
Chris Young 2/$11.5 37 34 18 123.1 6.1 3.1 1.2 3.06 4.52 0.9 288.1 3.40 4.80 1.0

A Scott Kazmir reunion might be possible, but he is said to be "looking for a deal in the $50 million dollar range." Bartolo Colon so far has only been connected to the Mets and to the Braves this offseason, with Colon mentioned as a cheaper alternative to Kazmir by Oakland beat writers.

Colby Lewis did well to eat over 200 innings on a staff that had only three pitchers go over 100 hundred innings in 2015. It was a second consecutive season over 170 innings for Lewis, who lost the second half of 2012 and practically all of 2013 recovering from surgery for a torn flexor tendon. Lewis also underwent meniscus surgery in the offseason.

Mark Buehrle is still considering retirement, and he would most likely pitch for the Cardinals if he does not.

Bounce back candidates

If the price is too high for the more reliable veteran starters, there are a number of starters coming off down years that have shown brilliance in the not too distant past.

Notes Contract
2016
Age
2015 2013-15
G GS IP Per 9 innings ERA FIP WAR IP ERA FIP WAR
K BB HR
Mat Latos 28 24 21 116.1 7.7 2.5 1.0 4.95 3.72 1.5 429.1 3.67 3.40 8.1
Cliff Lee Injury 37 Did not play -- injured 304.0 3.08 2.86 7.3
Doug Fister 32 25 15 103.0 5.5 2.1 1.2 4.19 4.55 0.2 475.2 3.35 3.77 5.8
Kyle Lohse 37 37 22 152.1 6.4 2.5 1.7 5.85 5.12 -0.1 549.1 4.11 4.32 4.6
Henderson Alvarez Injury 26 4 4 22.1 3.6 2.8 0.4 6.45 3.85 0.3 312.0 3.23 3.47 4.2
Jhoulys Chacin 28 5 4 26.2 7.1 3.4 1.4 3.38 4.63 0.1 287.1 3.88 3.87 4.2
Bud Norris 1/$2.5 31 38 11 83.0 7.7 3.4 1.6 6.72 5.04 0.0 425.0 4.47 4.23 4.2
Justin Masterson 31 18 9 59.1 7.4 4.1 1.1 5.61 4.89 -0.2 381.0 4.61 3.98 3.8
Aaron Harang 38 29 29 172.1 5.6 2.7 1.4 4.86 4.83 0.8 520.0 4.50 4.33 3.5
Mike Pelfrey 2/$16 32 30 30 164.2 4.7 2.5 0.6 4.26 4.00 2.0 341.0 4.94 4.24 3.4
Dillon Gee 30 8 7 39.2 5.7 2.5 1.1 5.90 4.42 0.3 376.0 4.00 4.23 2.6
Edwin Jackson 32 47 0 55.2 6.5 3.4 0.7 3.07 3.82 0.0 371.2 5.21 4.05 2.5
Tim Lincecum Injury 32 15 15 76.1 7.1 4.5 0.8 4.13 4.29 0.3 429.2 4.46 4.04 2.1
Bronson Arroyo Injury 39 Did not play -- injured 288.0 3.88 4.44 1.7

Mat Latos tops the list ordered by WAR over the last three years here because Mat Latos was a top pitcher in his last completely healthy year, 2013. Was it a lingering knee injury that affected his performance in 2015? I'll let Camden Chat's Chris Booze try to convince you:

The batted ball data against Latos tells a similar story - opponents in 2015 hit an inordinately high number of line drives against him (24.2% vs. 19.1% for his career), and a low number of infield pop-ups, especially for a flyball pitcher (7.1% vs. 10.7% for his career). His velocity didn't seem to be affected by his injury either - his 91.4 MPH average on his four-seamer put him right between 2013 (92.5) and 2014 (90.7). All of these numbers are indicating that Latos was pretty much the same pitcher in 2015 that he was in the past, but batted ball luck and poor performance in "clutch" situations soured what could have otherwise been a decent year. That means he looks like a candidate to bounce back and become a bargain to a lucky team in 2016. On top of that, he's still somehow only 28 years old.

A lot of the players on this list didn't get a full 32 starts either because of injury or because poor performance pushed them to the bullpen.

No, no, no, never, no

Just, no.

2016
Age
2015 2013-15
G GS IP Per 9 innings ERA FIP WAR IP ERA FIP WAR
K BB HR
Alfredo Simon 35 31 31 187.0 5.6 3.3 1.2 5.05 4.77 1.0 471.0 3.97 4.44 2.3
Roberto Hernandez 35 20 11 84.2 4.5 2.8 1.0 4.36 4.48 0.4 400.1 4.45 4.69 0.7
Kevin Correia 35 5 5 23.1 5.4 3.1 1.5 6.56 5.19 0.0 362.2 4.86 4.57 1.2
Ryan Vogelsong 38 33 22 135.0 7.2 3.9 1.1 4.67 4.53 0.0 423.1 4.63 4.33 0.8
Samuel Deduno 32 9 2 21.0 7.3 3.9 1.3 6.86 5.09 -0.1 229.2 4.39 4.26 0.8
Chris Capuano 37 22 4 40.2 8.4 4.9 1.3 7.97 5.03 -0.1 243.2 4.91 3.94 2.0
Jerome Williams 34 33 21 121.0 5.5 2.5 1.6 5.80 5.24 -0.3 405.1 5.00 4.66 0.2
Eric Stults 36 9 8 47.2 5.9 2.5 1.9 5.85 5.38 -0.3 427.1 4.30 4.19 3.0
Jeremy Guthrie 37 30 24 148.1 5.1 2.7 1.8 5.95 5.62 -0.9 562.2 4.57 4.84 0.7
Kyle Kendrick 31 27 27 142.1 5.1 2.9 2.1 6.32 6.12 -1.0 523.1 5.11 4.80 1.9