MLB Free Agency Primer: Breaking Down All 47 Starting Pitchers

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(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Backend Options/Spring Training Invites

Most of these starters were either below average or downright awful, and only a few are worth more than a Spring Training invite.

Trevor Cahill (32)

W/L: 4-9 IP: 102.1 ERA: 5.98 K/9: 7.1 WHIP: 1.466 FIP: 6.13 bWAR: -0.3

Summary: In what was supposed to be the signing of a mid-rotation starter, the Angels instead ended up with an awful starter turned awful reliever. Cahill was remarkably consistent at struggling mightily throughout the entire season, and showed his 2018 season in Oakland was a total fluke. The home/road splits pointed towards Cahill being a risky option for the Angels, and he was a huge letdown in 2019.

Risks: The risk of signing a very bad pitcher who often times seems lost on the mound.

Potential contract: In all honesty, someone will give Cahill a minor league contract with a Spring Training invite. His performance this season makes it hard to believe any team will give him anything more lucrative than that. Any potential suitors better be playing in the most pitcher friendly ballparks in the MLB.

(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

Jhoulys Chacin (32)

W/L: 0-2 IP: 103.1 ERA: 6.01 K/9: 8.8 WHIP: 1.558 FIP: 5.88 bWAR: -0.8

Summary: Whether it was in Milwaukee or Boston, Jhoulys Chacin was abysmal in 2019. He was supposed to be the focal point of Milwaukee’s rotation, but just could not contain opposing offenses. He was traded to the Red Sox, where he had some success when the team opted to use him as a reliever.

Risks: The obvious risk here is that Chacin can’t bounce back from a poor all-around season. His days as a starter seem numbered, and both his H/9 and HR/9 were career worst numbers.

Potential contract: A very low-cost, deal, if that. Maybe even just a minor league contract with a Spring Training invite.

LA Angels pitcher
LA Angels pitcher /

Matt Harvey (31)

W/L: 3-5 IP: 59.2 ERA: 7.09 K/9: 5.9 WHIP: 1.542 FIP: 6.35 bWAR: -0.7

Summary: Matt Harvey regained his velocity this season with the Angels. Then he lost it again, then regained it again. Throughout all of this though, he was awful on the mound. He was designated for assignment midway through July, and picked up by the Oakland A’s for some minor league depth. He was being geared towards a relief role, but was left off the 40-man roster.

Risks: Injuries, age, off field, poor performance. A lot of risks for any team considering signing Harvey this offseason.

Potential contract: A minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Derek Holland (33)

W/L: 2-5 IP: 84.1 ERA: 6.08 K/9: 8.8 WHIP: 1.506 FIP: 6.10 bWAR: -1.2

Summary: After struggling at the start of the season with the San Francisco Giants, Holland was traded to the Chicago Cubs where he somehow got worse. His walk rate, home run rate, and ERA were career worsts during his time in Chicago, and it seems Holland’s career may be heading towards its final days after a very successful 2018 season.

Risks: Derek Holland being 2019 Derek Holland instead of the 2018 version.

Potential contract: Minor league contract with a Spring Training invite.

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Wade LeBlanc (35)

*$5MM club option with a $450K buyout*

W/L: 6-7 IP: 121.1 ERA: 5.71 K/9: 6.8 WHIP: 1.451 FIP: 5.49 bWAR: 0.3

Summary: After seeing time as both a starter and reliever in 2019, Wade LeBlanc struggled doing both. That being said, he was much better out of the bullpen for the Mariners and could see a move to the bullpen with whatever team he lands with. However, he could make one final push to start in 2020.

Risks: Using LeBlanc as a starter is extremely risky given how poor his numbers were in that role in 2019. At 35-years old, his age is a risk as well. However, that could be potentially offset if he accepts a move to a long man out of the bullpen.

Potential contract: Low-end one-year deal, possibly a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Shelby Miller (29)

W/L: 1-3 IP: 44.0 ERA: 8.59 K/9: 6.1 WHIP: 1.977 FIP: 6.40 bWAR: -0.9

Summary: The pitcher Shelby Miller was when he was the epicenter of a blockbuster deal in 2015 is long, long gone. One could make the argument that Miller was the worst pitcher in the big leagues before being designated for assignment last season. If you were to take one good thing away from Miller’s 2019 season, it’s that he is another year removed from his Tommy John operation and is still under 30.

Risks: Signing one of the worst pitchers in the MLB last season.

Potential contract: A minor league contract.

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Martin Perez (29)

*$7MM club option with a $500K buyout*

W/L: 10-7 IP: 165.1 ERA: 5.12 K/9: 7.3 WHIP: 1.518 FIP: 4.66 bWAR: 0.2

Summary: It doesn’t appear that the Minnesota Twins will pick up Martin Perez’s option after he fell apart towards the end of the season. He’s an interesting case, as his first half was that of a capable mid-rotation pitcher. However, things completely derailed and now Perez will find himself as a 29-year old free agent. However, there’s still reason to be optimistic, as Perez posted his highest strikeout rate of his career while also improving on his hit rate.

Risks: The main risk is that Perez’s second half was truthful in who he is as a pitcher at this point in his career. Signing him to any amount of money based off his solid first two months of 2019 would be incredibly risky for a team to do.

Potential contract: A 1-2 year deal worth about $2-3 million yearly.