The 2021 MLB season has featured some outstanding campaigns from starting pitchers.
Interestingly, many of this season’s top starting pitchers are set to hit free agency after the year ends.
Those players are likely going to secure major deals in free agency, and that’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about today.
We’ll be ranking three starters who are primed for huge paydays.
For this exercise, we’re mostly considering players who are in line to receive 4+ year deals as opposed to two-year or three-year deals (even if the projected AAVs are similar).
Let’s get started.
3. Marcus Stroman
Not many folks knew what to expect out of Marcus Stroman going into the 2021 season.
The righty opted out of the 2020 season due to the pandemic, and that made it easy to forget how dominant he was in 2019.
But fans were reminded of his dominance just a few weeks into the 2021 season when he had a 0.89 ERA over his first four starts.
The 30-year-old has been fantastic all year long.
He has a 3.00 ERA, 3.43 FIP, and 1.14 WHIP across 32 outings.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 9, 2021
He has been a horse from the gate, and he’s one of the only reasons the New York Mets were still a factor in the playoff race into September.
Stroman has a big payday in his future for sure.
It’ll be interesting to see where he lands.
2. Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon has been a monster this season.
The 28-year-old has a 2.47 ERA, 2.64 FIP, and 0.97 FIP across 23 starts.
He doesn’t qualify to be the official “league leader” in any statistical categories due to the fact that he hasn’t thrown enough innings, but that hardly makes his campaign less impressive.
He earned his first career All-Star selection over the summer, and he was more than deserving of the honor.
The lefty has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 17 of his 23 starts on the year.
You better believe he’s going to get paid big money in the offseason.
Spotrac thinks he could come away with a five-year deal worth $100 million.
1. Robbie Ray
Robbie Ray is the betting favorite to be named the AL Cy Young this season, and it’s hard to disagree with Vegas in that regard.
The 29-year-old is working on a stellar campaign.
He has league-bests in ERA (2.68), ERA+ (163), WHIP (1.04), and strikeouts (244).
Robbie Ray, Sick 90mph Slider. 🥴
13th K. Give the man his Cy Young. pic.twitter.com/orlDtD65hF
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 15, 2021
This is far and away the best season of Ray’s career, and truthfully, it came out of nowhere.
He posted a 6.62 ERA in 2020 and a 4.34 ERA in 2019.
The potential has always been there (he had strong seasons in the past), but it never completely came together until this season.
All that matters is the present, and he has clearly figured out what it takes to be an elite big-league pitcher.
Like Rodon, Ray could very well find himself on the receiving end of a five-year deal worth around $100 million this offseason.
The most notable omission from this list is probably Kevin Gausman.
Gausman is having a great season for the San Francisco Giants, and he’s surely going to secure a big deal in free agency.
However, he has had a rocky second half this season, and with only three spots on this list to choose from, someone had to get bumped.
We’ll have to wait and see how everything plays out in the offseason.