Power Ranking the Mid-Tier Free-Agent Starting Pitchers

Credit Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Credit Mike Stobe/Getty Images

3. Wei-Yin Chen – LHP

Qualifying Offer Attached: Yes

Chen’s agent, Scott Boras is trying to push for over $20 million annually for the Taiwanese southpaw, using Boston’s Rick Porcello’s contract as leverage. I don’t think he’ll be able to get Chen that much, but a healthy $16 million annually over five years sounds about right.

Chen has been very solid since breaking into the Majors in 2012, posting a 3.72 ERA (4.14 FIP) with a low 2.19 BB/9 over 706.2 innings pitched. Chen has gotten better with each season in the big leagues, as he posted a 3.34 ERA and 1.93 BB/9 rate in 2015.

The main red flag with Chen is the long ball. He gave up 28 homers in 2015, which is a bad sign for any team that’s interested in him and has a hitter’s park. Chen is 30 years old, and is arguably the best left-handed starter left on the free-agent market.

There has been no reported interest, but look for the Cards to be in on Chen. They lost right-hander Lance Lynn for the 2016 season with Tommy John surgery, and they lost out on the bidding for Price. Busch Stadium should be more pitcher friendly to Chen than Camden Yards was, and there’s never a bad side to have a pitcher work with catcher Yadier Molina.

Contract Prediction: Five-year, $80 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

2. Mike Leake – RHP

Qualifying Offer Attached: No

There are four reasons why I have Leake slightly above Chen:

  1. No qualifying offer attached.
  2. Groundball rate should be more attractive to teams.
  3. He’s entering his age-28 season.
  4. The Giants will push hard for Leake and/or the pitcher below if they lose out on Greinke, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

And yes, I’m just going to leave you with that. I think my predicted team will lose out on bidding for Cueto, so my prediction is that Leake winds up here, especially considering where he went to college:

Contract Prediction: Five-year, $90 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks (Leake attended Arizona State University).

1. Jeff Samardzija – RHP

Qualifying Offer Attached: Yes

If I was writing this post about a week ago, I would’ve had Samardzija around third or fourth. But, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN, the soon-to-be 31-year-old right-hander has an offer of $100 million on the table. In an additional report from Stark, the Dodgers and Giants are interested in the right-hander and will pursue him if they lose out on Greinke. In that report as well, an executive said he believes Samardzija will get a deal at or above $90 million.

So much for a bargain, right? Samardzija posted a 4.96 ERA (4.23 FIP) with the White Sox in 2015, although he did pitch 214 innings, marking his third straight season of over 213 inning pitched. He’s a durable workhorse and flashes ace-stuff when he’s on.

Contract Prediction: Five-year, $100 million deal with the San Francisco Giants.


2 Responses

  1. J French Rennier

    This article is a little dated, Greinke signed for $34 mill with the Diamondbacks which rules out their signing Leake. The Giants signed the Shark & have more money left to burn.
    The $64 question is whether the Giants will sign Leake or a Leftfielder as they are unable to sign both.
    The Giants have Heston available as a 5th Starter behind the Mad Bum, the Shark, Peavy & Cain so a Leake signing is not a necessity.
    The also can use a platoon in LeftField with Blanco when not playing Center, Parker & Williamson both called up at the end of last year & Tomlinson who is learning the outfield becoming a Super Utilityman so a proven big bat left fielder is also not a necessity especially since they are basically set in the batting order 1 thru 7.
    As a longtime Giant Fan, my prediction is they will heavily pursue Leake who fits their ballpark & is a good age for a 5 year contract averaging $15 to $18 mill ea.


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