MLB free agency: Top 10 pitchers available this offseason
Best arms on the market
One of the top arms on the open market immediately came off the board with former Giants closer Will Smith signing a three-year contract with the Braves. But there are still plenty of big names to be signed this offseason.
With Gerrit Cole and others being free agents this year, a lot of money will be handed to some of baseball's best pitchers. Here are the top free-agent 10 pitchers -- starters and relievers -- this offseason.
10. Will Harris -- RHP
Quietly, Will Harris has been one of the best relievers in the big leagues since joining the Astros in 2015. The 35-year-old is 18-13 with a 2.36 ERA and 0.99 WHIP over that span, along with 315 strikeouts in 297 innings pitched.
Due to relatively low save numbers, Harris isn't a big-name reliever. His stats say otherwise, though. The veteran right-hander had a 1.60 ERA last season and 0.93 WHIP. Harris also is a Statcast superstar. His fastball spin rate is in the 96th percentile despite his velocity being in the 25th percentile.
Harris won't break the bank, and could be a steal this offseason.
9. Cole Hamels -- LHP
Hamels is headed towards the end of his career and turns 36 years old in December. That doesn't mean he isn't a serviceable veteran for a starting staff, though.
The crafty left-hander was 6-3 with a 2.98 ERA in the first half of last season, but then an oblique strain changed everything. He went just 1-4 with a 5.79 ERA in his final 10 starts.
When healthy, Hamels still is at least an above average starter.
8. Dallas Keuchel -- LHP
Keuchel was good but not great after going unsigned until after the June draft with a qualifying offer hanging over his head. He went 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 112 2/3 innings for the Braves.
The 31-year-old's 4.72 FIP was his highest since his rookie year and his 1.37 WHIP was worst since 2013. How much of that has to do with missing spring training and the first few months of the season? It's hard to say.
Keuchel is a three-time All-Star and 2015 AL Cy Young award winner. He won't be paid like an ace, but still is a solid arm for a contending club.
7. Drew Pomeranz -- LHP
That's right, Drew Pomeranz is ahead of names like Cole Hamels and Dallas Keuchel -- the same Drew Pomeranz who had a 5.68 ERA for the Giants.
Pomeranz, however, is not the same pitcher who struggled with the Giants. The veteran left-hander converted from a starter to a reliever at the end of his stint in San Francisco, and flourished in the role after being traded to the Brewers.
Pomeranz had a 2.39 ERA and struck out 45 batters in 26 1/3 innings for Milwaukee. He was touching 96 mph as a reliever and could be a huge weapon for teams as someone who can throw multiple innings out of the 'pen.
6. Jake Odorizzi -- RHP
Odorizzi, 30, enters free agency after perhaps his best season in the big leagues. The veteran right-hander went 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA and made his first All-Star Game appearance.
In his second season with the Twins, Odorizzi posted career-bests in ERA+ (131) and FIP (3.36). While he made 30 starts and has been durable throughout his career, Odorizzi will not eat up innings and only tossed 159 last season.
The Twins tagged Odorizzi with a qualifying offer, so his free agency possibly could drag on. He should still see a solid payday this offseason, though.
5. Hyun-Jin Ryu -- LHP
The past two seasons, Ryu has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. The veteran lefty is 21-8 with a 2.21 ERA and 1.01 WHIP the past two years.
He led all of the majors this past season with a 2.32 ERA, and his 179 ERA+ was the best in the NL. Ryu also has pin-point control and led the bigs with just 1.2 walks per nine innings. But there are cons to signing him, too.
Last season was the first time Ryu has tossed at least 180 innings since 2013. He has undergone surgeries on his elbow and shoulder, and missed nearly all of 2015 and 2016. Ryu is an injury risk, but easily can be an ace.
4. Madison Bumgarner -- LHP
Are Madison Bumgarner's days with the Giants over? Many believe so, and if that's the case, who exactly are teams bidding for?
MadBum is the greatest postseason pitcher of all time, but that very well could be the former version of himself. His velocity is declining with many miles on his left arm, and he struggled mightily last season away from pitcher-friendly Oracle Park.
Then again, Bumgarner proved he still is a workhorse when healthy this past season, leading MLB with 34 starts. He also tossed over 200 innings for the first time since 2016. His first crack at free agency will be one to watch.
3. Zack Wheeler -- RHP
The former Giants top prospect is starting to look like a possible star now that he's healthy.
Wheeler, who turns 30 years old next May, went 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA for the Mets last season. He had Tommy John surgery in 2015 and wound up spending two-and-a-half years away from a major league mound. The past two seasons, however, he has proven to be fully healthy and one of the best arms in baseball.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander is loved by those in the advanced analytics world, too. According to data from Baseball Savant, Wheeler's fastball velocity is in the 94th percentile, his opponent exit velocity is in the 90th percentile and his hard-hit percentage is in 82nd percentile.
For someone with a scary injury history, Wheeler could make $100 million this offseason.
2. Stephen Strasburg -- RHP
Strasburg opted out of the final four years and $100 million of his seven-year, $175 million extension. Going into last season, that seemed highly unlikely. Now he seems primed to make well over $150 million on the open market.
The former No. 1 overall draft pick led the NL in wins (18) and innings pitched (209). His 33 starts were the most he's had since 2014, and he again showed how dominant he could be when healthy. Strasburg struck out a career-high 251 batters and had a career-low 1.04 WHIP.
The 2019 World Series MVP is about to be paid, just not as much as the final pitcher on this list ...
1. Gerrit Cole -- RHP
Say hello to the grand prize of the 2019 offseason. Scott Boras' best friend is going to break the bank and sign the largest contract by a starting pitcher in MLB history. That's a guarantee.
Experts around the game believe Cole could exceed $250 million. A former No. 1 overall pick like Strasburg, Cole has been dominant the last two years for the Astros.
Cole tapped into his potential in Houston, going 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA and 602 strikeouts over 412 2/3 innings. He's a hitter's nightmare and an agent's dream. The AL Cy Young award runner-up is about to enjoy the offseason before becoming the face of a franchise.