It's March 1 and several prominent starting pitchers are still lingering in free agency. Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb — three guys nobody would have guessed would still be out there a handful of games into spring training.
The Phillies have been linked to Arrieta this offseason — more on that here — and on Wednesday night, MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported the Phils and Lynn have been in contact "in recent weeks, although the sides are not close to a deal."
Lynn has been a mid-rotation workhorse for the Cardinals since 2012 when he made the All-Star team in his first full season in the majors. In just under 1,000 career innings, he's 72-47 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.4 walks.
Is he a fit here? [Insert obligatory sentence about there being no such thing as a bad one-year deal.]
The Phillies did not enter this offseason looking for pitchers on the other side of 30, especially those who have an injury history. Lynn missed all of 2016 after having Tommy John surgery, but he did rebound to have one of his best seasons in 2017. This past season, Lynn was 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA in a league-high 33 starts. He held his opponents to a .203 batting average and .269 on-base percentage.
In fact, aside from 2016, Lynn has made between 29 and 33 starts each season and exceeded 175 innings in all of them.
Lynn has the classic build of a right-handed workhorse: 6-foot-5, 280 pounds. In many ways, he's the near-best-case scenario for someone like Jerad Eickhoff.
If the Phillies did add Lynn, he'd instantly slot in as their No. 2 starter, and just that one addition of a solid starting pitcher could go a long way in keeping them competitive late into 2018.
The question is obviously how many dollars and years would a team like the Phillies be willing to commit to Lynn? They're not going to give him more than three years, especially with it being a team-friendly market at this point. In terms of annual salary ... the only two starting pitchers all offseason to get a multi-year deal worth more than $10 million per season are Yu Darvish (six years, $126M) and Tyler Chatwood (three years, $38M).
Signing Lynn would cost the Phillies more than just money, though. They would forfeit their third-round draft pick and $500,000 to spend on international free agents if they sign him. They already surrendered their second-round pick to sign Carlos Santana. The reason is that both Santana and Lynn rejected qualifying offers from their former teams at the beginning of the offseason.
Something like two years, $32-36 million might get it done with Lynn. Long-term financial security is what almost all athletes seek, especially pitchers with serious injuries behind them. That's why we cannot discount a one-year deal, either, as it would allow him to maintain or build more value while hitting free agency again next year when he's nearing 32.
Whether or not the Philles end up with Lynn — or Arrieta for that matter — the market has certainly come to them.