This week I analyzed the top free agent starting pitchers on the market, and I determined which teams might be the best fits for them.
John Lackey – Lackey qualifies as a Type A free agent, which means that whichever team signs him would have to give up their first-round pick, unless they have one of the top 14 picks (in which case they would give up their second-round pick). Lackey has had an ERA under 3.85 every year since 2005. He has been consistently good, and could push a borderline playoff team into elite status.
Good fits – Twins, Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers
Erik Bedard – Bedard is very injury prone and qualifies as a Type B free agent, so he will probably sign with a team who has enough depth to recover if he gets injured again. Other teams with big budgets could also go after him. Bedard hasn’t thrown 90 innings since ’07, and has never thrown 200 in his career. He would be a risky sign, but could also turn out to be a big addition.
Good fits – Angels, White Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Phillies, Cubs
Justin Duchscherer – Duchscherer is also a Type B free agent, but he is coming off an injury. He didn’t pitch at all last year, but in 2008 (his only season of starting so far) he was great, with a 2.54 ERA on the year. When he pitches, he is dominant. There are a lot of teams who would love to have this guy on their team.
Good fits –Twins, Tigers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Braves, Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies
Kelvim Escobar – Escobar is about as injury-prone as you get, as he has thrown 5 innings in the past two years. But when he has pitched, he’s been effective. In the last three years where he’s pitched a substantial amount of innings, his ERA has been 3.40, 3.61, and 3.93. He is likely to just sign a one-year contract since he is always injured.
Good fits – White Sox, Twins, Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, D-Backs
Rich Harden – Rich qualifies as a Type B free agent. Harden had a let-down, although solid, year in 2009. After having a 2.34 ERA with the A’s, and a 1.77 ERA with the Cubs in 2008, he had only a 4.09 ERA for the Cubs in ’09. He still had a solid year, and he would be a solid #2 starter wherever he goes.
Good fits – Angels, White Sox, Twins, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers
Joel Pineiro – After a horrible year in 2008 (5.15 ERA), Pineiro had a breakout 2009, winning 15 games with a 3.49 ERA. He did well enough to qualify as a Type B free agent, but it looks as if he’ll go somewhere else instead of staying in St. Louis.
Good fits – Braves, Cardinals, Reds, Yankees
Randy Wolf – Randy qualified as a Type A free agent, after he had a great 2009 for the Dodgers, throwing 214.1 innings, with a 3.23 ERA. But the Dodgers can’t afford to lose him, so it’s unlikely that he will leave LA. He has also never left the National League, so an AL team would be unlikely.
Good fits – Dodgers, Cubs, Phillies, Braves
Come back next week for free agent infielders.