This year’s free-agent class for starting pitching is one of the weakest in years, reflected by lefty Rich Hill being the market headliner before re-signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a three-year, $48 million pact. Other starters who have since signed include Andrew Cashner with the Rangers, Derek Holland with the White Sox and Edinson Volquez with the Marlins. The best starter still available on the free-agent market is Jason Hammel (formerly of the Cubs), a good option at the back end of a rotation, but more of a good depth addition than a season-changing pickup.
However, the market for starting pitching is actually robust right now. That’s because the trade market is presently flooded with options. Want a top-of-the-rotation starter? Call the Rays on Chris Archer, the White Sox on Jose Quintana or even the Royals on Danny Duffy. Need a mid-rotation starter? Redial the Rays on Drew Smyly and Jake Odorizzi, or call the Reds on Dan Straily or the Brewers on Junior Guerra. Have payroll room to take on a bad contract? Call the Nationals on Gio Gonzalez or the Twins on Ervin Santana.
You get my point. Any team still looking for starting pitchers can choose from all kinds of options. Here is a breakdown of some of the best alternatives still out there for teams shopping for rotation help.
1. Jason Hammel
2016: 15-10, 3.83 ERA/4.48 FIP, 1.1 WAR, 1.20 WHIP, 7.8 K/9
Hammel worked extremely hard last offseason in order to be stronger in the second half of the season, something that has plagued him most of his career. It worked to an extent, as he had a 3.46 ERA in the first half and 4.35 ERA in the second, but most of the inflated ERA in the second half all came in his four starts in September (with 21 runs allowed in 20 ⅔ IP). Hammel is a quality back-of-rotation starter who has pitched at least 165 innings in six different seasons.