With Stephen Strasburg signed to a seven-year deal, an already-thin market for starting pitching this offseason suddenly got a lot thinner. In fact, with Rich Hill, Clay Buchholz, Andrew Cashner, Bartolo Colon, Mat Latos, Jorge De La Rosa and Jered Weaver expected to head up the available options, it might be the weakest starting pitching class we’ve seen in quite some time; there's not a single top-of-rotation starter among the lot. Teams that are light on starting pitching will now have to rely on either their own farm systems or trades to improve their rotations.
As I see things now, there are many contending teams in need of SP help. I'll address eight of those teams, then lay out 10 trade options, including some big names, to consider.
Teams in need of SP help
Only three teams in baseball have a starting pitcher ERA under 3.00: the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and New York Mets. Not coincidentally, these are three of the best teams in baseball right now. Meanwhile, there are 13 teams (including the Cubs, Nats and Mets) that have starter ERAs under 4.10, and as I examine them, none of those teams are in desperate need for a starter.
That leaves 17 teams with starter ERAs ranging from 4.36 (the Orioles) and 5.98 (Brewers), levels that suggest an upgrade is needed. Of those 17 teams, I see eight as being legit contenders and are in need of starting pitching help. Whether it's finding help from within or trading for it, these eight teams need better starting pitching if they're going to have a shot at reaching the playoffs. Here are those eight teams:
1. Detroit Tigers: Jordan Zimmermann has been great, but normally reliable Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez and back-end starters Mike Pelfrey, Shane Greene and Michael Fulmer all have ERAs that range from 5.40 to 6.28. There's potential there in Verlander and Sanchez, of course, and the rookie Fulmer has quality stuff if it comes together for him, but the team should still showcase and then dangle recent call-up Steven Moya as a trade chip to get a starter.