If you want to waste a lot of money in a hurry, sign a high-profile free-agent starting pitcher. This is one of the great truths of baseball. Whether it's A.J. Burnett, John Lackey or Barry Zito, it's not hard to look around baseball and find a team whose big mound investment has turned into a frustrating drain on the payroll. And those are the ones who have been lucky enough to stay healthy. Adding in the pitchers whose arms gave out not long after receiving a big paycheck in free agency would make for a depressing list indeed.
Because of the rules governing how long it takes to reach free agency -- and the wise trend by smart franchises to lock up their young aces before they ever reach the market -- the available pool of free-agent starting pitchers is usually dominated by guys who are headed straight toward the downside of their careers. By the time a pitcher has satisfied the six-year service time minimum and been granted the rights to free agency, he's already put a lot of mileage on his arm, and in most circumstances, his best days are behind him.
That's what makes C.J. Wilson such an appealing free agent, and the free-agent pitcher who should be most attractive to big-league clubs this winter.