There are many quality free agents remaining as we near the reporting date for pitchers and catchers and the start of the baseball season. The remaining players could probably form their own team and be fairly competitive, however, expect many of these players to land a job within the next couple of weeks. The majority of these free agents are coming off down years, off season surgery, or are the victim of the ill-fated qualifying offer, but they will all find their way to contracts for big money. Here is where they should land:
Long gone is the Cy Young award winning pitcher and here to stay is the slightly worse than league average pitcher who will learn to live off one year deals for the next couple of seasons. Lincecum is coming off hip surgery and is supposed to be throwing for scouts sometime this month. Hoping that translates into a full-time gig, his best bet is for the San Diego Padres to be in attendance. The Padres rotation is currently filled with Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and James Shields and adding Lincecum to it would make them not horrible this year. He would be able to thrive in the spacious Petco Park and try to build some value to get his career back on track. Having ended last season after only 15 starts, Big Time Timmy Jim's best chance at saving face is staying healthy. Tim signs with the Padres: 1-year, $8 million plus incentives based on innings and games started.
Lohse is coming off one of the worst years of his career and it is reasonable to wonder how much this 36-year-old has left in the tank. Lohse pitched so poorly for the win-challenged Brewers that he was sent to the bullpen at the end of the year to try and recover some value for the team. Lohse had been a solid mid-rotation pitcher for the four years prior to last and was automatic for a 3-3.5 era and close to 200 innings, however last year saw him throw only 152.1 innings. The market has been quiet on Lohse and it may be time for this 15-year veteran to hang them up, but I see him signing a one year deal with St. Louis to compete for a spot at the end of their rotation. Lohse to the Cardinals: 1-year minor league deal with opt out, $5.5 million with incentives.
Alfredo Simon is another bounce back candidate after posting a 5.05 ERA last season with Detroit. Previous to last season he had pitched fairly well in the National League with Cincinnati. I expect him to return to the senior circuit and sign with the Washington Nationals to add depth to their rotation. Simon only has 716.1 career big league innings on his arm and would be a good insurance policy in case of an injury to one of Washington's front five. Simon to the Nationals: 1-year, $6 million.
Latos has a few things working against him as he looks for a job. First, he had a miserable 2015 that saw him go 4-10 with a 4.95 ERA, get hurt, and bounce around three different teams. Second, he has a reputation for being an awful teammate. Latos once looked like a promising potential front line starter with the Padres but has since turned into a pitcher who looks like he lacks both desire to compete and directions to the gym. Latos is still young, only 27, but his reputation is doing his wallet no favors. Latos will have to swallow his pride and accept a flyer from a non-competing team this season and try to build his value for next off season. Latos signs with Atlanta, who thinks they can fix him, to compete for a spot in the rotation. 1-year, $8 million.
Probably the best healthy pitcher left on the market, Yo might be one of the few pitchers left to sign a multi-year deal. Gallardo is not longer a 200+ strikeout a year pitcher but he is very solid mid-rotation piece. Gallardo spent last season pitching in Arlington at a hitter's playground and posted a very solid 3.42 ERA in 33 starts. Gallardo can be a good number three in any rotation and the only reason he has lasted this long is because he was given a qualifying offer. Most teams are wary of giving up a draft pick for a mid-rotation pitcher who is approaching 30. But the team to do it will be the Baltimore Orioles. Having already spent to keep Chris Davis, they now must replace losing Chen to the Marlins. Baltimore finally surrenders their pick and signs Gallardo: 3-years, $45 million.
By Dan Cantone