Free agent starting pitchers countdown: #6-10 (including the top lefties)

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians need at least one starting pitcher. Here's a look at some of the best ones available.


Other entries in LGT's free agency series:

The Indians have already made Ubaldo Jimenez a qualifying offer, but he's likely to decline it. Scott Kazmir is a free agent too. That means two of the Tribe's five primary starting pitchers from 2013 are likely gone for 2014. One of those absence will probably be filled in house (Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, and Zach McAllister are all pretty safe bets for the rotation), but they'll need to go out and sign someone to fill that last spot. Here's a look at some of the best pitchers available (more to come throughout the week), with pertinent 2013 info for each of them:

10) Jason Vargas
Team Age Throws IP ERA ERA+ FIP
Angels 30 Left 150.0 4.02 94 4.09

A blood clot caused Vargas to miss almost two months in 2013, which was his first time missing starts in five years. He's still relatively young and fairly steady, without impressive strikeout totals, but league average run prevention. He's likely to land the largest contract of any southpaw this winter, probably for something like 2 years, $20M or maybe 3/$27M.

9) Scott Kazmir
Team Age Throws IP ERA ERA+ FIP
Indians 29 Left 158.0 4.04 93 3.51

Kazmir pitched in one MLB game over 2011 and 2012. Entering this year, his last respectable season was 2009. In he was pitching for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, and having a hard time even at that low level. Kazmir should have won the AL's Comeback Player of the Year Award for what he accomplished in 2013. He posted his best strikeout rate since 2008 and the best walk rate of his career, and was better in the second half than the first. His past will limit what teams are willing to offer him, likely forcing him to settle for something like 2 years, $18M. There's risk, but that could be an absolute bargain. I'd be happy to see the Tribe bring him back on a deal like that.

8) Bronson Arroyo
Team Age Throws IP ERA ERA+ FIP
Reds 36 Right 202.0 3.79 101 4.49

Arroyo has been about as dependable as they come, pitching at least 199 innings in nine straight seasons. In 7 of those 9 seasons, his ERA+ has been within 10 points of league average, with 2006 his one outlier on the plus side, 2011 the outlier on the negative side. He strikes very few people out, but his ERA has tended to be roughly half a run better than his FIP, so he seems to be one of those pitchers who's capable of success that outstrips many of the underlying factors often looked to. You're probably getting steady production if you sign him, and that consistency may even get him a 3-year deal, for something like $33M.

7) Ricky Nolasco
2013 Team Age Throws IP ERA ERA+ FIP
Marlins/Dodgers 30 Right 199.1 3.70 101 3.34

Nolasco entered 2013 as the one player making big money with the Marlins, after Jeffery Loria gutted the team. It was obviously Loria wouldn't stand for paying Nolasco all season though, and so he was eventually traded to the Dodgers (who are willing to pay anyone). His FIP almost always looks far better than his ERA, and at this point it's probably smart to think of him as league-average, nothing more. 200 innings of league average ball is plenty valuable though, and some GM is going to squint and see something even better than average. He'll get 3 or 4 years, for $12-13M a year, but I wouldn't want to be the team that gives it to him.

6) Bartolo Colon
2013 Team Age Throws IP ERA ERA+ FIP
Athletics 40 Right 190.1 2.65 141 3.23

Colon is 40 years old and just completed maybe the best season of his career (which is saying something, considering the man has a Cy Young Award on his resume. Colon basically just throws his fastball (86% of his pitches in 2013 were fastballs, easily the highest percentage of any starting pitcher), and that fastball is averaging 91 MPH, nothing all that impressive. He didn't issue many walks though, or allow many home runs, and he finished 2nd in the American League in ERA. I don't know how to assess his value. You can't give a pitcher who'll going to turn 41 a month into the season a multiyear deal, can you? His 2013 production was worth $20M+, but there will be serious doubts that he can duplicate it, or even come close, so I expect he'll settle for 1 year, $12-13M.

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