MLB Free Agency Primer: Breaking Down All 47 Starting Pitchers

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(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Mid-Rotation With Upside

These pitchers are the type of arms fanbases should be happy with as their second/third starter. Not a ton of risk, and some of these players have shown flashes of upside that could lead to breakout seasons.

Brett Anderson (32)

W/L: 13-9 IP: 176.0 ERA: 3.89 K/9: 4.6 WHIP: 1.307 FIP: 4.57 bWAR: 2.7

Summary: Brett Anderson spent his 2019 season as one of the most consistent pitchers on the Oakland A’s. He wasn’t remarkably great, but was a reliable pitcher. The team knew what they were getting every time Anderson took the mound: relatively average pitching that’ll take you deep enough into the game to not overwork your bullpen. Only 4 of Anderson’s 31 starts didn’t make it through at least five innings.

Unlike most Oakland A’s starters, Anderson also had superior numbers on the road than when pitching in The Coliseum. That’s a positive sign for his free agency, as he’s proven he can be successful in other ballparks.

Risks: At 32-years old, there’s no way of telling if this is Anderson’s comeback season or if it’s simply a blip on the radar. This could be the beginning of a late resurgence in his career or simply a set up for a bad contract in free agency.

Potential contract: Anderson will probably look for multiple years of security at an average value. A 2-year, $10-15 million deal sounds about fair for both a team in need of backend rotation help and Anderson.

(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Wade Miley (33)

W/L: 14-6 IP: 167.1 ERA: 3.98 K/9: 7.5 WHIP: 1.345 FIP: 4.51 bWAR: 2.0

Summary: Being teammates with Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, and Justin Verlander means attention will be rare for you. However, Wade Miley had a very successful season in Houston despite not being covered as frequently as his Cy Young rotation mates. He posted impressive numbers across the board, and is fully able to be a rock solid mid-rotation arm for whichever team signs him this winter, even after a lackluster beginning to his postseason.

Risks: Miley struggled towards the end of the season, and hasn’t topped 200 innings since 2014. He isn’t a starter that can get you 7 innings every start, but can be extremely effective if he’s used properly.

Potential contract: Miley will look to cash out before he hits the wrong side of 35, so a multi-year deal should be his highest priority. $10-12 million a year sounds about right for an AAV.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Michael Pineda (30)

W/L: 11-5 IP: 146.0 ERA: 4.01 K/9: 8.6 WHIP: 1.158 FIP: 4.02 bWAR: 2.4

Summary: It was a very impressive season for Michael Pineda, as he was serviceable for the Twins throughout 2019. However, that all ended when he was suspended for 60 games for violating the MLB’s performance enhancing drugs rules. He was disqualified from the playoffs, where the Twins surely could have used his help as they fell to the Yankees. Nevertheless, Pineda is just 30 years old and could be in line for a solid payday.

Risks: As is always the case with players caught using performance enhancing drugs, there’s worry about whether or not they’ll be the same player after they serve their suspension and (assumedly) are clean.

Potential contract: This is a tough one given his suspension, but a 2-3 year with $10 million annually would be both a team-friendly deal and a big enough payday for Pineda.

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(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Jose Quintana (31)

*$11.5MM club option with a $1MM buyout*

W/L: 13-9 IP: 171.0 ERA: 4.68 K/9: 8.0 WHIP: 1.386 FIP: 3.80 bWAR: 0.7

Summary: This is a player who needs more context. While his ERA at the end of the season doesn’t look great, that is in large part to the final five starts of Jose Quintana’s season. Before his awful month of September, he owned a 3.90 ERA on the year. It was a successful season for Quintana, September aside, and we’ll see whether the salary strapped Cubs decide to spend their money elsewhere. It’s also worth noting the difference between his ERA and FIP could mean some positive regression is in line.

Risks: Other than the end of his 2019 season, there aren’t any significant risks with Quintana. His age is typically where pitchers start to decline, so teams will have to keep that in mind.

Potential contract: I genuinely do not expect Quintana to reach free agency. He has been a rock solid mid-rotation piece for the Cubs, and they’d be silly to let him walk. If he does find free agency though, a 4-5 year deal worth $15 million annually would be a great deal for any team.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Michael Wacha (28)

W/L: 6-7 IP: 126.2 ERA: 4.76 K/9: 7.4 WHIP: 1.563 FIP: 5.61 bWAR: 0.2

Summary: 2019 was not the season Michael Wacha was hoping for prior to hitting free agency this offseason. Long gone are the days of 2013, when Wacha gave us one of the most dynamic postseason stretches on the mound of all time. Now, Wacha is simply a backend rotation piece at his worst and a mid-rotation arm at his best. However, he is still young, and has room for improvement.

Risks: The last time Wacha posted a season with at least 20 starts and a sub-4.00 ERA was 2015 so…enough said. His brief 2018 season was encouraging, and Wacha showed glimpses of that same talent at times in 2019, but has not been able to put it all together for an entire season in nearly half a decade.

Potential contract: This is honestly a tough one. A three-year, $35 million deal would be something fans could get excited about though.