The Market for 2012 Free Agent Pitching

It wouldn't be a Dayton Moore offseason if he hadn't made a move while the corpse of last year was still warm. Santana is in the fold for better or for worse and we still don't really have a handle on the market for pitching.

Source Material

Fangraphs: Contract Crowdsourcing 2012-13: Results
First, here's Fangraphs crowdsourcing estimates for this season. They're the numbers I used next to each pitcher's name. I think some are too low (Sanchez) but it gives us a baseline from which to work. Here are the Fangraphs 2011 crowdsourcing results for accuracy comparison. And Dave Cameron already has an article up with the best bargains and busts of the market.

Kyle Lohse and the Rising Price of Wins
This is Connor's article about the increasing cost of wins. I think wins will increase in cost substantially with the new tv money coming into the system. However, I think this change will be aggregated across this season and next year's free agent class (with worse SPs) so you have a chance to scoop up some bargains while some owners are waiting to count their cash before they can spend it.

MLBTR: 2013 Top 50 Free Agents With Predictions
This is MLBTradeRumors' page on the Top 50 free agents. I wanted to get a list of teams who might be interested in SPs. This isn't a comprehensive list and it's a bit quick and dirty but, again, it gives us a baseline

Offseason Predictions: Counting Down the Top 50 Free Agents (25-1)
I'll be honest- I don't know who does this blog or anything about it but the numbers sounded decently close to what I had in my head on a lot of accounts. I went through quite a few articles which had top 10 free agents and predictions and this seemed more credible even with a list of 50. That doesn't mean all are great and we do get some wacky statements like "Arguably the second most talented pitcher on the list" for a fan favorite here or a thought that the Rays would decline James Shields's option (not going to happen). But I think the market values reflect the new money that is coming in over the next couple of years.

The Competition

Unfortunately, national writers rarely do a good job of summing up individual teams' needs. But going off of the "national consensus", here's what we see for teams on the pitching radar:
Angels - want to retain Greinke badly
Tigers - want to retain Sanchez badly
Yankees - Looking to resign Kuroda, Pettitte
Dodgers - Ned is crazy
Cubs - could spend big
Orioles - could spend big
Blue Jays - Looking for one good pitcher to push over hump; retain Villanueva?
Brewers - keep showing up on lists looking for one good guy
Nationals - Retain Jackson or just go with what they have?
Athletics - Retain McCarthy as he's one of their guys?
Royals - who knows?
Twins - looking to fill a couple of rotation holes on the cheap; retain Baker?
Padres, Pirates, Red Sox - no big targets but a bargain or two

A Pitcher of Note

Ervin Santana: I thought they had Santana and I wanted to compare the crowdsourcing total to what the Royals paid for him. I suspect, looking at the crowdsourcing numbers, we'd be looking at a 2/$14-16 number in line with someone like Saunders or Blanton.

The Top Three

Zack Greinke: 6/$114 - About in line with what I expect. I think I agree with Rany which I'm paraphrasing as "it's hard to justify spending such a high percentage of your salary on one pitcher but if you're going to do it, pick one with a proven track record of performance and near perfect mechanics who took a lawn mowing sabbatical in his early years which relieved stress on his arm" or something like that.

Anibal Sanchez: 4/$52 - Honestly, I think this is low, based on the new tv money. If that's all it costs, sign him up right now. Go offer him 4/$55 or, hell, 5/$65 and see if he bites. I genuinely believe this is going to end around 5/$80 and this is one where the crowdsourcing is going to be way off. If they were reading this, I think about 10 GMs just looked up and said "I'd pay more than that for him" and that's how bidding wars start.

Kyle Lohse: 4/$52 - Is it criminal that he's estimated to get the same as Sanchez. Not just in AAV but length. He's 34 and a 4 year contract? Do not want even if he goes for 4/$52 and Sanchez at 5/$75- still would want Sanchez.

Mid Range

Dan Haren 3/$36 - Is his back ok? If so, a steal. If not, well, that's why he's 3/36 rather than something like 6/114. I think the Angels hold onto him today and will trade him only if the Greinke extension gets signed. It's probably a moot point as his option gets picked up and he gets traded for something more than Brandon Sisk magic beans.

Edwin Jackson 3/$36 - Good performance, seemingly a bargain at this rate after getting shut out last year in contract negotations. The velocity drop is scarier the more I think about it and I worry that 3/$36 gets you 18 months of TJ and 18 months of EJax. Suddenly that's not such a bargain. Would need the doctors to look long and hard at this one.

Ryan Dempster 3/$36 - Very consistent with WAR 2.5 and above the last 5 years. Down side is that he's 35 and the end of a 3 year contract with Dempster puts him at the same age as a 4 year contract with Lohse.

Short and Sweet

Hiroki Kuroda 2/$24 - Quite old but quite reliable. Don't think he'd come to KC- he's wanted only large markets so far. Notice that's also the only guy I've said this about so far, too. I genuinely believe if the Royals pony up the most cash, they will get the player. However, there's a caveat that some older players will want to chase rings and living quality above money. But for almost all players under ~30, I think money talks more than anything.

Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum 2/$20 - Two favorite targets with different injury issues. One got brained last season while the other is chronicly injured. Two year contracts minimize the risk here but I think Marcum gets a 3 year deal from someone and takes it.

Joe Saunders 2/$16 - He's not quite the mythical 1.0 WAR pitcher but he's not that much above it.

Francisco Liriano, Joe Blanton 2/$14 - Another pair with injury issues. Seems like they would be best at 1 year "make good" contracts. Then again, Blanton was mostly healthy last year so maybe that was his "make good" year.

Bargain Bin

Jeremy Guthrie 2/$12 - Didn't we used to have one of these? The two year deals kindof scare me because it really seems like there is no carryover money. In no universe should 1/$12 be better than 2/$12. However, when your budget for next season could potentially contain $6M in one scenario but not in another and that's a potential liability, your organization's finances are all measures of screwed up.

Carlos Villanueva 2/$12 - Another Royals speculation favorite. I really haven't looked much at him but a 8.41/2.45 K/BB in 16 starts in 2012. I'm a little worried as his career K/BB is 7.82/3.14 and a lot of that time has been as a reliever. He may have turned a corner but I'm worried we're looking at small sample size where his K/BB were slightly better as a starter than a reliever rather than a new normal for him.

Scott Baker 2/$12 - Was worth more than 2.5 WAR the last 5 seasons? Really? And he's only 31. Problem: he spent all of 2012 rehabbing TJ surgery.

Roy Oswalt 1/$6, Daisuke Matsuzaka 1/$4 - These seem more like minor league contract fliers to me and I'm sure there are more out there but these are the ones Fangraphs crowdsourced.

Whither The Royals?

Many of us have said all along go after Anibal Sanchez with whatever it takes, up to about 5/$80. What if 5/$90 is what it takes? Do you make that deal? Edwin Jackson at 3/$36 sounds great until you take his decreased velocity into account. Do you still make that deal? What about if it's 4/$50? Shaun Marcum at 2/$20 sounds reasonable but how about a 3 year deal? If these prices hold, then there's a lot out there. But I think these are pretty substantial underestimates this year.

If no moves are made or no contracts can be signed in the next month (it still takes 2 to tango) and the Royals rotation looks as it does right now with, let's say, Lohse, Dempster, Saunders, and a bunch of guys in the Matsuzaka and worse category are out there, what do the Royals do then?

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.