Unrestricted Free Agents
Yu Darvish, 31, Dodgers
Darvish struggling through the belly of the 2017 season, but has done enough throughout his career to show he’s a legitimate top of the rotation arm. His effort in the Dodgers’ postseason run will go a long way in telling just how much he’ll command this winter. While his market value once hovered over $25M, his current $23M valuation seems a likely ceiling for his next contract. Suitors: Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Blue Jays
Jake Arrieta, 31, Cubs
The workhorse kicked off 2017 with a slow start, but has rebounded back into form, finishing the regular season with 14 wins, 163 Ks, and a respectable 3.53 ERA. His calculated market value dropped from near $30M to a still tenable $26.6M this season, putting him on track for a 5 year $130M contract. It’s tough to imagine the Cubs taking that on with Jon Lester already in the fold, but they’ll join the Yankees, Angels, and Rangers as a top suitor.
Lance Lynn, 30, Cardinals
After missing 2016 because of Tommy John surgery, Lynn bounced back nicely in 2017 (11 W, 153 KS, 3.43 ERA in 186 IP). While he hasn’t quite found his pre-injury form, he’s still a Top 3 starting pitching candidate set to hit the market this fall. His current calculated market value of $17M seems to be a floor, as Jeff Samardzija’s 5 year $90M deal is a likely benchmark for Lynn. With Adam Wainwright now 36 years old, it seems likely the Cardinals will strongly consider keeping Lynn as a top of the rotation arm.
Alex Cobb, 29, Rays
After battling injuries in 2016, Cobb started a career high 29 games in 2017, posting 12 wins, 128 Ks, and a 3.66 ERA in 180 innings. Financially his calculated market value sits just north of $18M, putting him in line for a potential 6 year, $109M contract – if the big teams come calling.
Jason Vargas, 34, Royals
Vargas stumbled a bit down the stretch, but still managed to post 18 wins, 134 Ks, and a 4.16 ERA through 180 innings in 2017. He’s a borderline qualifying offer candidate at best in Kansas City, but has done enough to garner a calculated market value of $13.6M, putting him in line for a 2 year, $27M potential contract this offseason.
Jhoulys Chacin, 29, Padres
All things considered, Chacin had a quietly fantastic season with the Padres. He finished 2017 with 13 wins, 153 Ks, and a 3.89 ERA in 180 innings. The 29-year-old carries a market value north of $12M, but should push past $50M on a 4 year deal this winter.
Andrew Cashner, 31, Rangers
The Rangers took a flyer on Cashner last offseason, locking him into a $10M deal. He rewarded them with his best season in 3 years, posting 11 wins, 86 Ks, and a 3.40 ERA in 166 innings. He’s done enough to put himself into the third-tier of available starting pitchers this winter, calculating toward a $13M per year contract.
C.C. Sabathia, 37, Yankees
After dreadful seasons from 2013-15 in New York, Sabathia finished out his contract with back to back strong years. His 3.69 ERA in 2017 was his best since 2012, to go along with 14 wins, 120 Ks, and a 1.27 WHIP. While Rich Hill & John Lackey both recently tendered contract worth $16M a year at the age of 36, Sabathia’s value figures to be a bit closer to $12M.
Masahiro Tanaka, 29, Yankees
After a brutal start, Tanaka rolled back into form to finish of 2017, posting 13 wins, 194 Ks, and a 4.74 ERA in 178 innings (a far cry from his 3.07 ERA in 2016). Tanaka can opt-out of a 3 year $67M contract through 2020, including $22M in 2018. With a current calculated market value of $22.5M, he’ll have a difficult decision this winter.
Johnny Cueto, 32, Giants
After an outstanding 2016, Cueto was downright average this year with San Francisco. So much so, that it appears unlikely that Cueto will opt-out of his current contract – which calls for 4 more years and $84M through 2021. His current calculated market value (using both 2016 & 2017 production) has dipped under $20M, and when using just 2017, dips under $15M.
Chris Sale, 29, Red Sox
The Red Sox didn’t just acquire a great pitcher when they traded for Chris Sale last winter, they also acquired a great contract. Sale’s current deal contains a $12.5M club option in 2018, and a likely $16.5M club option in 2019. While $14.5M per year may seem like a lot, Sale’s current calculated market value is $27.3M, projecting him toward an 8 year $219M contract.
Madison Bumgarner, 29, Giants
It seems silly to think the Giants would even consider moving on from Bumgarner and his 2 years, $24M remaining, but they’ll at least have a choice in the matter. Bumgarner’s injury early this season kept his production under the thresholds necessary to guarantee his $12M salary in 2018, meaning the Giants will have the choice to exercise or not this winter. With 100Ks and a 3.32 ERA in the 111 innings he saw this season, this decision should be an easy one.
Wade Miley, 30, Orioles
While a $12M salary for a 30 year old starting pitcher isn’t excessive, Miley’s posted a near 6 ERA in his 43 starts with the Orioles, winning just 10 games. Miley walked 93 batters in 157 innings this season, and his 1.73 WHIP is the highest of his 7 year career. Baltimore can walk away from the $12M salary with a $500,000 buyout.