The free agent market and the hot stove season seems like it’s dragging for a lot of teams, but certainly not for the Los Angeles Dodgers who continue to act fast and make solid moves.
Two weeks after they made the first splash in this year’s free agent market by signing free agent Ted Lilly to a three-year $33 million dollar contract, they made another move to bolster their rotation by signing starting pitcher Jon Garland to a $5 million dollar one year deal with an $8 million dollar option for 2012.
So just like that, the Dodgers, who said their goal this winter was to fill two vacant spots on their starting rotation, took care of business and now head into 2011 with a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Jon Garland and Hiroki Kuroda.
Either Lilly or Garland would have been nice fits on the Mets, and they both appeared to sign team-friendly contracts that certainly would have fit into the Mets limited payroll budget.
Last year, Garland had a 3.47 ERA with the Padres in 200 innings pitched. However, as another site pointed out, defense independent pitching stats including FIP and xFIP suggest that Garland’s 3.47 ERA was lower than what we would expect for someone with his peripherals. That said, for $5 million dollars, he certainly will provide the Dodgers with plenty of bang for the buck.
Taking a look at Yahoo’s Free Agent Tracker, these are currently the ten best options still available for Sandy Alderson and company to ponder.
- Cliff Lee: Yankees are still the favorite to land him, but Rangers not out of it yet.
- Andy Pettitte: If he doesn’t retire he’ll be back with the Yankees.
- Carl Pavano: Twins still want him. Free agency wasn’t kind to him before so he may stay where he is happy.
- Jorge de la Rosa: Wants a four year deal and he’ll probably get one.
- Javier Vazquez: Some NL team will roll the dice on him simply because he does well when there’s no DH in the lineup.
- Brad Penny: Injury prone yes, but it’s a weak market for pitchers as you can see, and when he’s healthy, he’s solid.
- Chris Young: A few years ago he was on everybody’s want list. He’s young enough to rebound.
- Vicente Padilla: It really starts to get ugly after those first seven are gone.
- Rich Harden: Probably the best risk/reward type pitcher in this group. He won’t be as cheap as you think though.
- Brandon Webb: Tough to gauge because of injury, but before that he was one of the elite. Might be worth taking a chance on.
Another interesting way to look at free agent pitching market, came from the Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel who wrote,
Before breaking the free agent pitchers into groups, it should be noted that the average strikeout rate for starting pitchers that threw at least 100 innings in 2010 is 6.79 K/9. The average walk rate is 2.97 BB/9. And the average groundball rate is 45.9%.
Using those metrics, available starting pitchers were categorized as follows:
Below-Average in All Three Categories
RHP Aaron Harang
RHP Bruce Chen
RHP Dave Bush
RHP Jeff Suppan
RHP Kevin Millwood
LHP Nate Robertson
Above-Average in Only One Category
RHP Bronson Arroyo
RHP Freddy Garcia
LHP Hisanori Takahashi
RHP Jake Westbrook
LHP Jamie Moyer
RHP Javier Vazquez
RHP Jeremy Bonderman
RHP Jon Garland – Signed by Dodgers
RHP Rodrigo Lopez
Above-Average in Two Categories
RHP Carl Pavano
LHP Cliff Lee
LHP Jeff Francis
LHP Jorge De La Rosa
RHP Kevin Correia
LHP Ted Lilly – Signed by Dodgers.
Above-Average in All Three Categories
LHP Andy Pettitte
RHP Hiroki Kuroda – Re-signed with Dodgers.