Last week, we took a look at the 12 best free-agent position players not named Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.
The idea was to present a list of contingency plans for the Phillies should they lose out to another team on either superstar.
If Harper or Machado do not come here, the Phils should instead sign one or two of those position players, along with several pitchers — perhaps two starters and a reliever.
Here's a look at the dozen best arms on the free-agent market. Again, we'll explore each player in depth in the weeks to come.
(This does not include Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner or Cole Hamels, three pitchers with options that are likely to be picked up.)
LEFT-HANDED STARTING PITCHERS
Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, J.A. Happ, Gio Gonzalez, Hyun-Jin Ryu
The best available starters this offseason are lefties, which is good because the Phillies have needed a good lefty in the rotation for four years.
Corbin, 29, is the class of the market. He's widely expected to end up with the Yankees, whose clear top need is rotation help.
Corbin will be a major get for whoever lands him. He had a 3.15 ERA in 33 starts this past season and struck out 246 in exactly 200 innings. He'll struggle with control every once in a while, but he has maybe the best left-handed slider of any starting pitcher in the NL.
Keuchel, soon to be 31, is not an ideal fit for the Phillies. He's a groundball pitcher who relies on soft contact, a la Jake Arrieta. Can you get away with having two of those in the same rotation, especially with a below-average infield defense? Keuchel allowed 211 hits in 2018, most in the majors.
The Yankees will likely try to keep Happ on a two-year deal. He went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts with the Yankees before getting blasted by the Red Sox in the ALDS. He's 36 years old, so he can't expect much more than two years, perhaps three years max if the market works to his advantage.
The Phillies should absolutely consider a two-year reunion with Happ, who had by far the highest strikeout rate of his career (9.8 K's per nine innings) in 2018.
Ryu has never been able to stay consistently healthy, but he was unbelievably effective this season, posting a 1.97 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 15 starts. The Dodgers will likely try to re-sign him, but like Happ, he'd be worth a two-year offer from the Phils.
Gio Gonzalez, blah. Not the right fit in a rotation that already includes a couple of Phillies who can lose their command and find themselves at 50 pitches to start the third inning.
RIGHT-HANDED STARTING PITCHERS
Charlie Morton, Nate Eovaldi, Trevor Cahill
Morton has been so good for the Astros, who have helped him, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole all reach the highest levels of their careers these last two years.
Morton was 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 30 starts, striking out 201 in 167 innings. His Phillies career lasted all of four starts in 2016 (torn hamstring), but he'd be worth bringing back. Soon to be 35 years old, Morton is not getting a long-term deal. The Astros will try to re-sign him over Keuchel but can't keep everyone.
Eovaldi would be an upside signing. He's always possessed a high-90s fastball but it hasn't led him to consistent success until this season, really. Eovaldi had a 3.81 ERA in 21 starts with five times as many strikeouts as walks. He's also been terrific for the Red Sox in the playoffs, which will probably prompt Boston to make a push to keep him.
At 28 years old, Eovaldi is the youngest in this group.
BEST AVAILABLE RELIEVERS
Craig Kimbrel, Adam Ottavino, David Robertson, Jeurys Familia
All four are worth a look, in this order.
Ottavino doesn't have nearly the same name appeal as Kimbrel but, good lord, is he difficult to hit. Ottavino had a 2.43 ERA for the Rockies this past season with 112 strikeouts in 78 innings. His opponents hit .158. He has a wicked, wiffle-ball-like slider that would instantly be the best pitch in the Phillies' bullpen.
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