MLB: Top Five Free Agent Starting Pitchers
Where will the hottest starting pitchers on the market land this offseason?
One word can be used to describe this upcoming offseason in the MLB: Insane.
While some are deeper than others, not many people are considered with the destinations of anybody outside these three names: Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, and Bryce Harper.
However, there are definitely some key players on the free agent market that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially those who take to the mound every fifth day for their respective ball-clubs; and while their teams would love to retain them, it’s a competitive game out there on the open market. It gets dangerous, and that’s the risk you take as a GM of a major league team.
But what jerseys will be worn by the following five arms come 2019?
Headlining this list is Astros left-hander, Dallas Keuchel. Having become the third starter in a stacked Houston rotation, Keuchel will hit the open market for the first time in his career. The 31-year-old is due for a pay-day after his solid 2018 campaign — going 13-12 with a 3.74 ERA. Likely looking to head to a contender, Keuchel will have plenty of options this winter, and no team is more in need of a marquee starting pitcher than the Milwaukee Brewers. They got great seasons out of Wade Miley and Jhoulys Chacin in 2018, but they need to have some sort of consistency moving forward; which is exactly what Keuchel brings.
As far as Patrick Corbin is concerned, he has said he’d love to play in the Bronx, so it seems inevitable that he would sign there. Corbin is also coming off of his best season in terms of ERA, K/9, H/9, WHIP, strikeouts, and K:BB ratio. In doing so, the 29-year-old has emerged as one of the best names on the market; and since the Yankees were unable to get the performance they’d like out of J.A. Happ in the 2018 ALDS against the Red Sox, it appears as though they’ll be in the market for another lefty rotation piece. Corbin brings a gutsy pitching style with him every fifth day, and with New York looking to add a reliable southpaw to compliment Luis Severino, it makes a lot of sense for them to land Patrick Corbin.
What a story Charlie Morton has become, huh? Peaking incredibly late into his career, the ex-Pirate and Phillie was destined to be on the road to being out of baseball. Until the Houston Astros came along and signed him to a two-year deal on November 16, 2016. Then all of a sudden, something clicked. That sinker that could barely sneak over 90-91 MPH was all of a sudden touching 97-99 MPH, and he really came on strong in 2018 — going 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 30 starts. Since he’s 34, he isn’t really a prime candidate to cash in on some lucrative deal. He’s likely to be living on one-year, two-year deals until he hangs up the spikes. With all of that in mind, it makes the most sense for Morton to stay put and re-sign with the Astros this winter.
The southpaw from Incheon, South Korea has had an injury-plagued career in Dodger blue since he debuted for them in April of 2013. Having missed all of 2015, making just one start in 2016, and having DL-stints in both 2017 and 2018, Ryu has been a thorn in the side of the Dodgers franchise for years. He’s been great when on the field — particularly in 2018 when he went 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA in 16 starts — his problem has always been staying on the field. It seems like the Dodgers have already gotten some potential replacements for Ryu in Walker Buehler, Ross Stripling, and Julio Urias; so the stage has been set for him to walk after 2018. One place that makes the most sense is the Philadelphia Phillies. Having been derailed by inconsistency in the second half, the Phils’ need to add someone with second half success; which Ryu has shown time and time again — posting a career ERA of 2.79 in the second half.
Who would’ve thought at this time last season that Clay Buchholz would be a top five pitcher on a pretty talented free agent pool? Well, here we are; and, quite frankly, he’s earned the recognition. In 2018 for the Diamondbacks, the veteran righty went 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 16 starts. In doing so, he has resurrected his career, and put himself back on the map. However, it shouldn’t be enough to garner a multi-year deal. In all honesty, he probably winds up back in Arizona on a one-year deal to see if he can build off of his strong 2018 campaign with an entire season under his belt in 2019.