Washington Nationals Rumors: 5 Free Agent Starting Pitchers to Target

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5 Free Agent Starting Pitchers Washington Nationals Should Target

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

For the past couple offseasons, the Washington Nationals have made moves to improve the back end of their pitching staff. With names like Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann at the top of their rotation, a veteran addition always helps a young group. Rather than focusing on the big names that were on the market, such as a Zack Greinke, C.J. Wilson or even bidding for Yu Darvish, GM Mike Rizzo opted for veterans to eat up innings. In theory this would be cost effective and not take up too much payroll space leading Washington to sign Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren.

Haren and Jackson were considered solid moves for an up and coming team with many believing Haren to be a major upgrade over Jackson. Many lauded Rizzo for getting such a solid starter in Haren for a relatively cheap price. Of course, Haren and Jackson were not exactly what the Nationals and their fans expected, as the duo, for a combined $24 million, went 20-25 with a 4.35 ERA. Needless to say, both were, in hindsight, a complete waste of resources. Though Jackson did end up getting a four-year deal from the Chicago Cubs out of his year in D.C. many believe Haren's fortunes will probably not be as good.

I believe Rizzo has probably learned from his mistakes, and it would be hard to argue that all Washington needs to do is add a veteran to eat innings for the back end of their rotation. Washington needs to go out and sign a pitcher to solidify the back of their rotation for, at the very least, two years. Thus, I have five free agent starters Washington could dole out multiple years to.

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5. Scott Feldman

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2013 w/ BAL/CHC: 12-12/3.86 ERA/181.2 IP/159 H/1.18 WHIP.

Feldman was a solid pickup for the Cubs, and was also a great trade for the Baltimore Orioles. Currently 30, Feldman probably has reached his potential, though his switch from the rotation to the bullpen with the Texas Rangers probably means his arm is stronger than some other free agent starters which also could provide some versatility.

2013 Salary: $6.5 million. Contract: Two years, $15M with third year option.

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4. Phil Hughes

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2013 w/ NYY: 4-14/5.19 ERA/145.2 IP/170 H/1.45 WHIP

Many believe Hughes suffered from being a fly ball pitcher in a small ballpark with the New York Yankees. Hughes is still young and does have time to straighten himself out as a pitcher, but coming off a 14 loss year he probably will not want a multi-year deal. Hughes could actually be what he was with the Yankees, but getting out of Yankee Stadium could be his saving grace.

2013 Salary: $7.15 million. Contract: One year, $5 million with a club option for second year.

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3. Bronson Arroyo

Frank Victores - USATODAY Sports

2013 w/ CIN: 14-12/3.79 ERA/202 IP/199 H/1.15 WHIP

Arroyo is nothing short of solid and consistent. He has thrown at least 199 innings for nine straight seasons and has thrown at least 175 innings for ten consecutive years. He's about as polar opposite of Hughes as possible: a flyball pitcher who has succeeded in a small ballpark and could seriously help a contender, especially Washington's young rotation.

2013 Salary: $6.5 million. Contract: Two years, $16 million with a mutual option for third year.

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2. Ubaldo Jimenez

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

2013 w/ CLE: 13-9/3.30 ERA/182.2 IP/163 H/1.33 WHIP

Jimenez is a curious case. He is 29, but his odd mechanics and at times a poor attitude has led to inconsistency. He does give up some home runs, but if Jimenez is right he's a lights out starter as we saw for years in Colorado. He may benefit from a return to the National League and could be the best fourth starter in baseball, though he is only two years removed from a 17-loss season.

2013 Salary: $5.75 million. Contract: Four years, $42 million with Fifth year option.

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1. Matt Garza

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2013 with CHC/TEX: 10-6/3.82 ERA/155.1 IP/150 H/1.24 WHIP

Garza is probably the most highly coveted starter on the market, so Washington will have their work cut out for them in their pursuit of this 29 year old. Rizzo has shown interest in acquiring Garza in the past, so it would not be out of the question for Washington to go hard after him. There are slight red flags with Garza, as he has not reached 190 innings since 2011. A range of odd injuries have hampered his past few seasons, though Garza has only had an ERA go over four or five once in his career, his rookie season. Since then, his highest ERA was 3.95.

2013 Salary: $10.25 million. Contract: Five years, $90 million with an option for years six and seven.

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