MLB Lines on Best Free Agency Starting Pitchers Available

Posted by Daniel Strum on Wednesday,December 9, 2015 4:46, EST in

Right now, with Zack Greinke, David Price and Jordan Zimmermann all under new contract for next year, the best free agent pitcher remaining on the market is Johnny Cueto. Over the past five seasons, he has put up a 2.71 ERA and a 3.3 strikeout to walk ratio. However, his stock may have taken a bit of a hit during his stint in Kansas City, as the Royals traded for him to anchor their rotation down the stretch and in the playoffs as MLB odds fans might recall.

Even though the Royals won the World Series, Cueto was only occasionally dominant, posting a 4.76 ERA in his 13 starts. His velocity went up and down, and while he only walked 4.9% of the batters he faced, his command still was not as razor-sharp as it has been. He pitched more than 240 innings in 2014 and topped 200 again in 2015. His career total is 1,420.1, which isn’t that high for a 29-year-old. However, he has missed some time in the last five seasons with shoulder and elbow troubles. Expect him to sign a four-year deal worth between $80 million and $100 million. Since Jeff Samardzija was somehow able to finagle $90 million over four years from the Giants, expect Cueto to be closer to $100 million.

A Look at the MLB Lines on Best Free Agency Starting Pitchers Available

What Other Players Could Impact Future MLB Odds?

Another interesting free agent starter is Mike Leake. He put up a 3.70 ERA in 192 innings showing that he remains a reliable workhorse for a team. He does not have overpowering stuff, as his strikeout rates tend to be low and he permits a lot of home runs. However, he has dynamite commands and he has a wide enough pitch variety to keep the ball on the ground. This is someone who could be a solid middle of the rotation pitcher, and he’s about to enter his age-28 season. Leake has only been on the DL twice in his career, but he has a small frame (5-10, 190). He is on the younger side of 30, which separates him from many of the free agent pitchers on the market.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Scott Kazmir. The Houston Astros brought him in as a starter down the stretch, but he only posted a 4.17 ERA in his 13 starts. Over the last two seasons, his ERA has been a relatively dominant 3.33, and he has improved with his command in recent years, finding ways to keep hard contact to a minimum. However, the velocity he showed in 2013 has largely dwindled, but he has added a cutter to his arsenal that provides multiple looks. That versatility and his enhanced command should keep him effective for several more seasons. However, the poor performance he put up in Houston could limit him to a three-year deal that would pay between $25 and $36 million total.