10 Free Agent Pitching Bargains That Are Still Available
10 Remaining Bargain Free Agent Pitchers
At this point in the offseason, the majority of the big-money free agents have been signed. There are a few exceptions, such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Nelson Cruz, but for the most part, teams will be bargain-hunting now. For some teams, there entire offseasons are bargain-hunting because they can't afford to spend money on the top free agents.
A player can be classified as a "bargain" for a few reasons. If a player is coming off of a big injury or surgery, such as Tommy John Surgery, some teams may not feel comfortable signing him, bringing his price down. If a player is coming off of a bad season but has a decent history prior to that season, he could be a bounce-back candidate, especially if his peripheral numbers suggest he had bad luck in the prior season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates made possibly the biggest bargain signing of last offseason with Francisco Liriano. The lefty starting pitcher was coming off of two straight terrible seasons in the American League, but the Pirates thought they could get his career back on track. They ended up signing him to a deal largely based on incentives and he turned out to be a huge bargain.
The players of this slideshow aren't going to jump off the screen as huge names or anything, but they have a decent chance of helping the team that signs them in 2014. Keep in mind, these are pitchers that are viewed by many as "risks," but in reality they aren't. A pitcher being a risk would require a lot of money or years being thrown his way -- the majority of these pitchers will be getting minor league deals.
10. Erik Bedard
The veteran southpaw pitched to a 4.59 ERA and a 4.38 FIP in 2013 with the Houston Astros. He went 4-12, but that doesn't matter anymore. Wins and losses for pitchers shouldn't even be brought up anymore, to be honest. Erik Bedard had a very good 8.23 K/9 last season, and he has a career 8.66 K/9. He certainly can't be counted on to lead a rotation anymore, but he certainly can provide nice depth at the back of any rotation.
9. Chris Capuano
Despite only pitching 105.2 innings in 2013, Chris Capuano was decent for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched to a 4.26 ERA and a 3.55 FIP with just 2.04 BB/9.
8. Jason Hammel
Jason Hammel fits nicely in the back of just about any rotation. He has a career 4.33 FIP and he had a breakout season in 2012, pitching to a 3.43 ERA and a 3.29 FIP. He has excellent movement on his pitches and he is able to induce ground balls with his two-seam fastball.
7. Johan Santana
Johan Santana was once one of the best pitchers in baseball, but he hasn't been for a few years. He missed the entire 2011 and 2013 seasons with injuries, and his last season with an ERA below 3.00 came in 2010 with a 2.98 ERA. No one should expect Santana to return to his pre-injuries form, but he could certainly pitch better going forward than he did in 2012 when he had a 4.85 ERA.
6. Jeff Karstens
Jeff Karstens missed the entire 2013 season after having offseason surgery. Karstens has had remarkable command in his past three seasons, with 1.98 BB/9 in 2010, 1.83 BB/9 in 2011 and 1.49 BB/9 in 2012. He has experience as a starter and as a reliever, making him a nice versatile option for a club that still needs a swingman.
5. James McDonald
James McDonald has the capabilities to be an All-Star if he can keep his confidence level high. He showed in the first half of 2012 that he can be great, pitching to a 2.37 ERA and 8.2 K/9 in 110 innings. He allowed opposing hitters to hit for a terrible .570 OPS. Something happened in the second half of the season, however, and he pitched to a 7.52 ERA with 38 walks and 14 home runs allowed in 61 innings. If McDonald can return to his first half of 2012 form, he is going to outperform any contract he signs for 2014.
4. Joel Hanrahan
Joel Hanrahan was an All-Star in his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he got traded to the Boston Red Sox prior to the 2013 season and pitched only 7.1 innings with the Sox before suffering a season ending injury. In his final full season, 2012 with the Bucs, Hanrahan pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 10.11 K/9 in 59.2 innings. He is definitely worth signing to a minor league deal.
3. Ryan Madson
Much like Joel Hanrahan, Ryan Madson is still a decent pitcher but he has suffered injuries. For Madson, he has missed the previous two seasons with injuries. In his last healthy season, 2011, he pitched to a 2.37 ERA with a 2.25 FIP and 9.20 K/9 in 60.2 innings.
2. Paul Maholm
Paul Maholm has a career 4.28 ERA with a 4.18 FIP. He fits well in the back end of almost any rotation that needs a lefty starter. He has a career 52.1 ground ball percentage as well, making him an unlikely candidate to give up many home runs.
1. Oliver Perez
Oliver Perez has had two straight good seasons in 2012 and 2013, with FIPs of 2.93 and 3.26 respectively. In 2013, Perez had a remarkable 12.57 K/9. He still walks too many, with a career 5.00 BB/9, but when he can strike out over 12 batters per nine innings, he can afford to give up walks.