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A return to the 2013 FA pitching market half way through the season.

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In light of John's recent suggestion, I went ahead and compiled the results of the 2013 free agent pitching market. I excluded pitchers that ended up as relievers, and I excluded pitchers such as baseballs version of Gandolf the Gray (Jamie Moyer) who did not sign.

The results were surprisingly better than I thought they'd be, but I'm not so certain that we at Twins Daily would have gotten them right. I'm too lazy to look up all of the suggestions from last winter, but the names that I remember being tossed around were either unrealistic (Grienke, Sanchez, etc) or have horribly performed (Jackson, Haren, Marcum). Some of the multi-year deals obviously need to be vetted in terms of the length of their deal, and I suspect guys like Lohse and Greinke will not look so good at the end of their contracts.

One interesting observation is that the cubs took 3 gambles in the FA pitching market. One (Scott Feldman) worked out very well for them. One (Scott Baker) flushed 5.5M down the toilet. One (Carlos Villanueva) may also net them a prospect. Despite their record, the cubs are a large market team, so they essentially used 15M this offseason to buy some prospects in what is a lost year for them. Given that their fan base will show up no matter how poor a product they put on the field, this isn't a bad strategy at all for the lovable losers.

The Good:

Zack Greinke: 8-2 3.36 ERA in 91 innings. Lost time due to an injury sustained in a fight.
Jake Peavy: 7-4 4.19 ERA in 73 innings. Also spent time on the DL. Peripherals better than Greinke so far.
Anibal Sanchez: 7-7 2.85 ERA in 98 innings. Though the record hasnít indicated it, he has pitched like an ace striking out more than 10 per 9 innings and walking less than 3.
Hiroki Kuroda: 9-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 125 innings. Has pitched quite well for the 15M contract the Yankees gave him, though his K rate is significantly lower than the others, he may regress.
Kyle Lohse: 6-7 with a 3.49 ERA for the Brewers. Peripherals donít look too good, but heís gotten the results thus far and justified his 3/33M contract.
Ervin Santana: 6-6 with a 3.18 ERA for the Royals in 130 innings. Has to date justified his 1/13 contract and will likely be able to parlay that into a multiyear deal this offseason.
Francisco Liriano: 9-4 with a 2.44 ERA in 81 innings for the Pirates. He signed a 1M deal with a second year option that will likely be picked up. He has been by far the best value deal of the class as heís pitched like an ace. He turned down an offer from the Twins, and Iíd say thereís a good chance he would not have pitched that well had he returned.
Scott Feldman: 8-6 with a 3.86 ERA. Cubs were able to flip him and his 1/6 contract for prospects.
Bartolo Colon: 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA for the Aís. Great value for 3M.

The mediocre:

Ryan Dempster: 5-8 with a 4.24 ERA in 110 innings for the Redsox. Heís been just better than league average, and not quite justifying the 2 year 26.5M contract.
Jeremy Guthrie: 9-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 126 innings for the Royals. I hate to see how this will turn out in years 2 and 3 of his 25M contract.
Joe Saunders: 9-8 with a 4.28 ERA in 120 innings. Great value from the 6.5M contract he got this offseason.
Carlos Villanueva: 2-6 with a 4.16 ERA in 84 innings for the Cubs. Signed a 2/10M contract and has earned his keep.
Erik Bedard: 3-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 98 innings for the Astros. Could possibly be flipped for a prospect.
Kevin Correia: I donít think I need to summarize this one. Heís earned his contract, though not much more.
Jason Marquis: 9-5 with a 4.05 ERA. Probably the best of the mediocre group and cheap at 3M. I somehow doubt he was going back to MN.
Roberto Hernandez: The player formerly known as Carmona is 5-10 with a 4.9 ERA for the Rays. Only cost 3.25M.

The Bad:

Edwin Jackson: 6-10 with a 5.11 ERA in 100 innings. He has not lived up to his potential.
Brandon McCarthy: 2-4 with a 4.99 ERA in only 66 innings. He was cheap at 2/16.5, but has not pitched nearly enough, or well enough to justify the contract.
Dan Haren: 4-10 with a 5.61 ERA for the Nationals. Has not justified his 1/13 contract.
Shaun Marcum: 1-10 with a 5.29 ERA for the Mets. At least only cost them 4M.
Joe Blanton: 2-12 with a 5.53 ERA for the Angels. Not worth the 2/15 contract he signed.
Roy Oswalt: 0-4 with a 7.64 ERA in only 17 innings for the Rockies. He has pitched well in AA.
Freddy Garcia: 3-5 with a 5.77 ERA for Baltimore. At least he was cheap.
Jeff Francis: 2-5 with a 6.58 ERA for the Rockies. Cost 1.5M.
Chien-Ming Wang: 1-1 with a 7.13 ERA for the Jays in only 24 innings. Singed for .5M.
Jonathan Sanchez: 0-3 with an 11.85 ERA for the Pirates.

The ugly:

Colby Lewis: Has been paid 2M to not pitch.
Chris Young: He did not sign a major league deal, so this really didnít not hurt his team. He has not pitched well in AAA thus far.
Scott Baker: I want get paid 5.5M to never set foot on a mound.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: Signed a minor league deal and has yet to pitch in the majors.
Carlos Zambrano: Signed a minor league deal and has yet to pitch in the majors. Has pitched well in the minors.
Aaron Cook: Signed a minor league deal and is getting shelled in the PCL.
Kip Wells: Signed a minor league deal and is getting shelled in the PCL.

Breakdown:
Good: 9 players
Mediocre: 8 players
Bad: 10 players
Ugly: 7 players

Since Ryan was clearly looking for shorter term deals, we can look back with hindsight to see who was the best signing.

The best contracts overall were for Liriano (who turned down an offer to return), Feldman, and Colon. Both signed short term contracts and have vastly outperformed them. We all know the enigma that is Liriano, so it doesn't bear repeating. There's good question as to whether or not he would have pitched this well in Minnesota.

Many of the mediocre contracts would have played out similarly to Kevin Correia, who the Twins signed. None of these guys would be difference makers overall, but most of them would be upgrades to our current rotation.

If money wasn't an option, and this was an exercise in throwing darts, approximately 50% of the players that signed would have performed well enough to earn their contract. Given that a number of the good players, such as Sanchez, Grienke, Liriano, and Lohse weren't likely to come here due to either a large contract or a former history, Ryan's odds of succeeding were less than that. The Twins would likely be in different shape had they signed Feldman, Colon, and Kuroda this offseason, but these were also not names that many were arguing for, and at 15M, Kuroda would have sucked up the entire budget. As a result, I'm not sure the posters at Twins Daily would have assembled a much better rotation than what Ryan did, and it most certainly would have cost more.
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Comments

  1. spycake's Avatar
    No Pelfrey in the list?

    Also, I think a primary criticism is that the Twins self-imposed budget and short-term contract limit were unnecessary and not in the best interests of the on field product. So I would hesitate to rely much on those factors in his review.
  2. DutchFarmer's Avatar
    No Pelfrey. No Harden (minor league contract, I know, but that didn't stop you from adding Matsuzaka, Zambrano, etc.). Also, to nitpick a bit more, let's say they did sign Kuroda for the $15m or even more; that would NOT have eaten up the entire budget. If we make the assumption that they could have spent up to 52% of the revenue that would put them at a max payroll of about $110m. We could have signed 2 Kuroda's and still be within budget.

    Time to stop cheerleading every move the FO makes. I'm all for praising them when they make good moves (i.e. trading the 2 centerfielders for pitching) but why can't we call them out for making decisions that don't appear to be benefiting the team?
  3. RodneyKline's Avatar
    I said it when the didn't sign Liriano and I say it again. Any team that can not get a pitcher like Liriano, that missed more bats in 2012 than any other MLB pitcher, has a horrible coaching staff. I would love to see a rotation full of Liriano, Deduno and even Baker that don't pitch to contact. They make the games they are in exciting ay least.
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