LAS VEGAS -- Three more starting pitchers came off the board Wednesday, as sources said Lance Lynn has agreed to a deal with the Rangers, J.A. Happ is returning to the Yankees and Charlie Morton is heading to the Rays.With Patrick Corbin already gone to the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi returning
LAS VEGAS -- Three more starting pitchers came off the board Wednesday, as sources said Lance Lynn has agreed to a deal with the Rangers, J.A. Happ is returning to the Yankees and Charlie Morton is heading to the Rays.
With Patrick Corbin already gone to the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi returning to the Red Sox, the starting-pitching market is surprisingly thin already -- and the Winter Meetings aren't even over.
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With those five arms off the market, teams looking for rotation help have limited free-agent options. Dallas Keuchel is the top starter available, followed by Japanese star Yusei Kikuchi, while the road to the trade market still goes through Cleveland, where Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer remain up for grabs.
So where will these pitchers wind up? Here's a look at the latest on their respective markets:
Entering the offseason, Keuchel was considered by most to be the second-best starter on the free-agent market, behind Corbin. The Nationals gave Corbin a whopping $140 million over six years, but it appears Keuchel won't land anything in that neighborhood.
For starters, the list of teams now in the market for a top-flight starter has been sizably reduced now that the Yankees, Red Sox and Nationals are out of the mix. The Phillies and Reds would be appear to be the two front-runners for Keuchel, though a source said Philadelphia remains focused on their pursuit of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper and aren't overly enthusiastic about throwing serious money and years at Keuchel, who turns 31 on New Year's Day.
Cincinnati is a more intriguing situation for the left-hander, though after trading forTanner Roark on Wednesday and talking with the Dodgers about a potential trade for lefty Alex Wood, it remains to be seen how serious the Reds are about paying a high-end free agent. Free-agent righty Matt Harvey also remains on the Reds' radar.
Keuchel could become the latest Scott Boras client to find himself waiting until January or February to land a new contract.
Kikuchi, who is also represented by Boras, is in an entirely different situation. Due to the posting system rules for Japanese players, the 27-year-old left-hander must agree to a deal with a big league team by January 2 if he wants to make the jump to the Majors.
Boras said Wednesday that the market for Kikuchi is "vast," with rebuilding clubs and playoff contenders alike expressing interest. Scouts view Kikuchi as a No 3 starter, so he won't command the kind of money Masahiro Tanaka got from the Yankees four years ago.
Teams are expected to meet with Kikuchi and Boras later this month in Los Angeles, when his market should begin to sort itself out.
The two Indians pitchers are clearly the best available arms, but it will take more than a big check to add either to a rotation. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Reds remains engaged with the Indians about both pitchers, though Cincinnati has also been in touch with the Yankees about Sonny Gray and the Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman. The Dodgers also remain in the running for one of the Indians pitchers.
An interesting team to watch in the Kluber/Bauer situation: the Rays.
Tampa Bay made a big move Wednesday with its two-year, $30 million signing of Morton, and it remains in the mix for free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz, as well. If the Rays were to deal for Bauer -- in exchange for a player like outfielder Tommy Pham perhaps -- and then sign an outfielder such as Michael Brantley, it would mean a vast improvement for a team that won 90 games last season as the Rays try to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees in the American League East.
Best of the rest
The rest of the free-agent market is littered with serviceable arms such as Wade Miley, Giovany Gonzalez, Anibal Sanchez, Harvey and Mike Fiers, though teams aren't looking at them as top-of-the-rotation starters.
Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.