Boston's acquisition of left-hander Drew Pomeranz from San Diego on Thursday helped illuminate the reality of the pitching market.With few contract-year starters available as rentals and this coming offseason's crop of free agents looking similarly light, teams with holes in their rotations are pushed more toward other options. Pomeranz, with
Boston's acquisition of left-hander Drew Pomeranz from San Diego on Thursday helped illuminate the reality of the pitching market.
With few contract-year starters available as rentals and this coming offseason's crop of free agents looking similarly light, teams with holes in their rotations are pushed more toward other options. Pomeranz, with two seasons of club control remaining beyond 2016, is a perfect example. If all goes well, he can help Boston down the stretch while pre-emptively addressing an offseason need.
With that in mind, here is a closer look at the current state of starting pitching and how that could affect certain players and teams ahead of the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Last July, aces Johnny Cueto and David Price changed teams, as did fellow pending free-agent starters J.A. Happ, Scott Kazmir and Mike Leake. One year later, this is the complete list of qualified pitchers who are likely to hit the market this offseason and have an ERA+ of 100 (league average) or better:
1. Colby Lewis, Rangers, 144 ERA+
- Bartolo Colon, Mets, 123 ERA+
- Doug Fister, Astros, 116 ERA+
- R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays, 108 ERA+
- Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies, 107 ERA+
Lewis is on the disabled list, Colon and Dickey are in their 40s, and all but Hellickson play for a contending team -- in other words, almost certainly not available.
The potential rental enjoying the most success is Oakland's Rich Hill, who doesn't have quite enough innings to qualify and was scratched from Friday's scheduled start due to a blister. Options beyond the 36-year-old lefty could include the Padres' Andrew Cashner (74 ERA+), the Rockies' Jorge De La Rosa (88) and the Angels' Jered Weaver (77). That's a pretty bare cupboard.
Especially after Stephen Strasburg inked an extension to remain in Washington, there aren't many others slated to join the fray in November. Therefore, it behooves pitching-starved clubs to address a current and future need all at once, as Boston did with Pomeranz. On the other hand, that sort of acquisition is going to cost more that a similarly talented rental would.
In order to land Pomeranz, the Sox had to give up Anderson Espinoza, an ultra-talented 18-year-old righty whom MLBPipeline.com ranked as baseball's No. 34 prospect. Last July, the Phillies pried an impressive collection of talent away from the Rangers for Cole Hamels, whose contract had up to four years remaining.
With Pomeranz already traded, here are three other intriguing starters who won't become free agents at season's end and whose teams don't appear to be contenders:
Sonny Gray, A's: The right-hander finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting last year, entering 2016 with a 2.88 ERA over nearly 500 career innings. This season has been tough (5.16 ERA), but with his track record and three-plus years of club control, Gray would make perhaps the most interesting target aside from the Braves' Julio Teheran. For what it's worth, Atlanta general manager John Coppolella recently told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Teheran won't be traded.
Jake Odorizzi, Rays: The 26-year-old righty isn't the only Tampa Bay starter reportedly drawing interest with the club falling out of the race. He has hit a rough patch recently, but he owns a respectable 99 ERA+ since 2014 and won't become a free agent until after '19.
Ervin Santana, Twins: The 33-year-old righty doesn't have the long-term upside of the younger pitchers, but he has a 1.63 ERA over his past four starts, including a shutout. He has $41.5 million guaranteed to him beyond this year.
The needy teams
Boston now has its starter. Here are three other clubs -- certainly not the only ones -- who could use a rotation upgrade but must deal with the market's current conditions.
Marlins: Tied with the Mets for the second National League Wild Card spot, Miami has a shot to break a 12-season playoff drought and already upgraded its bullpen with Fernando Rodney. Boosting a rotation that has gotten an ERA higher than 5.00 from pitchers other than José Fernández and Adam Conley also could help.
Orioles: Despite sitting in first place, Baltimore's rotation ranks 28th in the Majors with a 5.15 ERA, and the results have been especially grim behind Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman. In a tight race with Boston and Toronto (both two games back), every start matters.
Tigers: Detroit's rotation is eighth in the AL in ERA (4.60), Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris are both on the disabled list, and the club has to keep an eye on star rookie Michael Fulmer's innings load. That's a concern as the Tigers try to emerge from a big pack of AL Wild Card contenders.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.