MLB is currently locked out, which means teams can’t make any signings or transactions until a new CBA is negotiated.
And while negotiations aren’t expected to be quick, owners and players are back to discussing the fate of baseball for the next five years.
Once things restart, whenever that may be, clubs will rush to the free agency market to fill their rosters.
Pitching is always in demand, and these three starters could be available at very reasonable prices.
3. Zack Greinke
Zack Greinke is already 38 years old, and he has made $251,955,276 over his brilliant career.
He intends to keep pitching next season and is not expected to return to the Houston Astros.
Having made so much money, he probably won’t prioritize earnings for his next contract, but instead, the chance of winning, the city, and the right situation.
He makes perfect sense as a low-cost, short-term stabilizer for the back of a contender’s rotation this spring.
After all, he wasn’t bad at all during the 2021 season.
Last year, he pitched 171 innings and had a 11-6 record with a 4.16 ERA, 120 strikeouts, and a 1.17 WHIP in the tough American League.
Teams such as the New York Mets, the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels, the San Diego Padres, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the St. Louis Cardinals should be looking at him.
He should still have something left in the tank.
Top MLB Free Agent SPs Remaining (using 2022 projected fWAR):
— Carlos Rodón (3.8)
— Clayton Kershaw (3.1)
— Yusei Kikuchi (2.2)
— Zack Greinke (1.9)
— Danny Duffy (1.6)
— Michael Pineda (1.6)
— Matthew Boyd (1.3)
— Kwang Hyun Kim (1.3)
— Tyler Anderson (1.3)
— Matthew Taylor (@MatthewTaylorMN) December 21, 2021
2. Danny Duffy
Danny Duffy is perhaps the forgotten pitcher of this free agency period.
Since he didn’t pitch after being acquired by the Dodgers around the deadline, people forget how good he was in the first half with the Kansas City Royals.
In 61 innings, he posted a 2.51 ERA with 65 strikeouts and a solid 1.21 WHIP.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though.
First, he had three seasons with an ERA over 4.00 before 2021, so while perhaps he figured something out, those three years can’t be erased.
And two, he underwent surgery in October to repair his left flexor tendon and should be out for the first few weeks of the 2022 season.
Still, we are talking about a 3.95-ERA pitcher for his career with a good 2021 that could be a starter or a multi-inning reliever.
He will be valuable, if healthy, to the team that signs him, and the surgery and rehab will lower his price even more.
1. Michael Pineda
Michael Pineda should be one of the most under-appreciated starters out there.
Yes, he often has trouble staying healthy, but has had an okay career, with a 3.98 ERA and almost a strikeout per inning (8.79).
The right-hander, who will be 33 when the season starts, had a 3.62 ERA in 109.1 2021 frames and a 3.38 mark in 26.2 innings in 2020.
He is a low-risk option for contenders that want to lengthen their rotation and add some quality depth.
There is depth and then there is “quality depth”, and Pineda should offer the second one if he remains in one piece.
— Jeff (@MNTwinsZealot) January 11, 2022
The Minnesota Twins could really use him in their 2022 rotation, but there will surely be interest around the league for his services.