Type B Starting Pitchers

Well, it is officially 2009, meaning pitchers and catchers report in less than two months. This offseason has seen CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett sign extremely lucrative deals with the Yankees, Javier Vazquez shipped to the Braves, and negotiations begun on a deal between Derek Lowe and the Mets. As obvious as it may sound, starting pitching is very importance to the success of a team, and these teams have made great strides to strengthen their respective staffs.

There are several other options available on the free agent market, though, that would not require long-commitment/big-money contracts. Doubly important, their classification as Type B free agents means that the teams they eventually sign with do not have to surrender a first-round draft pick next season. As of right now, there are five such pitchers on the market: Paul Byrd, Jon Garland, Braden Looper, John Smoltz, and Randy Wolf.

Byrd is 38 years old and coming off of a relative down season spent with both the Indians and Red Sox. It did not seem to make much sense when the Red Sox acquired him last season and it won’t make much sense if he signs anything other than a 1-yr deal with little monetary investment. Byrd projects to log 175 innings with a 4.78 FIP next season. These numbers make him worth +1.2 wins. This below average projection pegs his fair market value at around $6 mil. If a team finds itself needing some veteran experience in the rotation, it could do worse than Byrd, but anything over 1-yr/$6 mil is really overvaluing his potential contribution.

Garland, 29, happens to be the youngest of this quintet. He has also been one of the more overrated pitchers in recent history. Garland has shown himself to be very durable, but his combination of good, not great, ERA figures with 200+ innings pitched has hidden his poor controllable skills. Next season, Garland projects to 184 innings at a 4.58 FIP. This makes him a +1.7 win pitcher, just slightly better than Byrd, and nine years junior. Jon is coming off of two consecutive seasons during which his salary exceeded $10 mil. At +1.5 wins, his fair market value is $8.5 mil. I can definitely see Garland signing a 3-yr deal somewhere, but fear that the signing team will pay much more than this fair market value. In fact, I would not be surprised if Garland signs a 3-yr/$36 mil deal similar to the one currently offered to Derek Lowe.

Next up is Braden Looper, of whom I wrote about not too long ago. Though Looper is 34 years old, I am very surprised his name is not being tossed around that much. His projections are sunnier than Garland and in the same vicinity as other pitchers making substantially more money. He also projects to 184 innings next season, but with a 4.42 FIP, deeming his value at +1.9 wins. Braden’s fair market value would then be $9.5 mil. A team looking for a safe bet to fill out the back end of their rotation would do themselves wise to sign Braden to a 2-yr/$18 mil deal.

John Smoltz, 41, is the elder statesman of the group as well as the most curious case. From 2005-2007, he easily surpassed the 200-innings plateau. Last year, however, injuries sidelined him for the majority of the season. Marcel has him pegged for 94 innings at a 3.50 FIP, numbers that fall vastly above or below his marks from the previous three seasons. Under this scenario, Smoltz would still be worth +2 wins. A more optimistic projection would see Smoltz pitch 190 innings with a 3.35 FIP, deeming him closer to +4 wins. Ideally, Smoltz would return for the Braves for one more season before hanging up his glove. Smoltz could be worth anywhere from $10-$20 mil next season, but he definitely has the potential to be the best of this group, even at 41 years of age.

Lastly, we have Randy Wolf, who has been linked to a slew of teams, including the Mets. The former all-star has seen his fair share of injuries over the last several seasons, but projects to log around 180 innings with a 4.40 FIP. These numbers, very similar to those projected for Looper, place Wolf around +2 wins, $10 mil. At 32 years old, a 3-yr deal would not be in the realm of absurdity, but his injury history may make him risky to some front offices. Whoever inks Wolf to a deal should include an option and performance bonuses to protect themselves if he should find himself on the familiar disabled list.

Later on tonight, we will look at the Type B relievers on the market.

Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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15 years ago

Main Entry:

: equivalent in value, significance, or effect

A common mistake, but I like this website so much I felt i should do a little sideline editing.