Jimenez fits with Twins, Halos

A good defense is wasted behind Ubaldo Jimenez, which should limit his suitors. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

I'm not the first to observe that ranking free-agent pitchers is particularly difficult in a year when the market is full of very good second-tier pitchers but arguably lacks a truly dependable ace. Looking at FanGraphs' WAR figures, the top six free-agent pitchers on the market -- A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, Hiroki Kuroda, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco, and Ervin Santana -- all came in at between 3 and 4 WAR in 2013.

Throw in Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza, Dan Haren, and Tim Hudson, and even if we take it for granted that our group represents the 10 best available pitchers, you could ask 100 different people to put them in order and end up with 100 plausible answers.

With such small differences in perceived talent among those players, even a marginal team-specific variable could be enough to shuffle the order of names on a GM's wish list. And if a team sees the available pitchers as generally interchangeable, its top offseason targets could be determined by the quality of its projected defensive lineup.