Monday night was the non-tender deadline for MLB, when teams had to decide whether to make offers to their arbitration-eligible players, or cut them loose (the Indians non-tendered Lou Marson, Matt Carson, and Tyler Cloyd, while keeping a group of players that includes key pieces such as Justin Masterson and Michael Brantley). Almost every team non-tendered some players, which means there are now dozens of new free agents on the market. Most of them are not particularly notable, but there are a few who stand a decent chance of making an impact with someone in 2014.
The Indians could use another starting pitcher, and probably another reliever too, but given that they've let the pitching market thin (I can't recall a year when so many players signed before the Winter Meetings even began) without making a move, it seems more and more likely that the Tribe will be doing their shopping in the discount aisle, where players like those cut loose this week can be found. Here are some of the more intriguing possibilities:
Tommy Hanson (27, RH) - A really good pitcher back in 2009 and 2010, Hanson seemed like he might become a star. His home run and walk rates have jumped since then though, and he's also missed a few starts each of the last three years with various injuries. I wouldn't buy into the upside of his peak, but I think he stands a decent chance at being league-average for 160-180 innings next year, and might cost only $3 million or so on a 1-year deal.
2014 Steamer projection: 6.9 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 4.10 FIP, 4.15 ERA
Daniel Hudson (26, RH) - Hudson did very well in 2010 and 2011, but then missed almost all of 2012, first with shoulder soreness, and then on account of requiring Tommy John surgery. He was almost ready to return this season, when he was derailed by elbow surgery, which led to a second Tommy John operation. Hudson could sit out all of 2014 (and maybe should), bit he says he intends to come back at the All-Star break. I wouldn't count on him for much in 2014, and he's not likely to get much more than $1 million, but he's still so young, and a team willing to risk guaranteed money on a multi-year deal could win big with Hudson (if he's willing to sign a multi-year deal).
2014 Steamer projection: 7.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 3.91 FIP, 3.97 ERA
John Axford (30, RH) - Axford was one of the best closers in baseball in 2011 (with the Brewers), but in 2012 his walk rate spiked, as did his number of home runs allowed. His control improved in 2013, but he became a lot more hittable. He did fairly well over the season's final couple months though, after being traded to the Cardinals. He's also been the picture of health, with the only games he's missed in his MLB career being due to food poisoning. If his St. Louis numbers hold up, he's back to being a very good reliever, one who might come at a price of only $4 million or so in 2014.
2014 Steamer projection: 8.8 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 3.41 FIP, 3.37 ERA
Andrew Bailey (29, RH) - The 2009 AL Rookie of the Year was a very good closer with the Athletics for a couple years, before seeing his production fall off after joining Boston in 2012. His velocity has been way down, and he was barely more than league-average during the first half of 2013, before being shut down for shoulder surgery. That surgery will keep him out for the first couple months of 2014 (maybe more), but a team willing to gamble $1-2 million or so could wind up with a very solid reliever for the last 80-100 games of the season, if he rebounds.
2014 Steamer projection: 10.2 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 3.40 FIP, 2.93 ERA
Sandy Rosario (28, RH) - I'm not entirely sure why Rosario was let go. He's not even arbitration eligible yet, so he could have been kept for ~$500,000, and he seems like someone worth having around. In 41.2 innings with the Giants in 2013, he allowed only one home run, with an ERA of 3.02. His strikeout and walk rates weren't very good, but he's had success in those areas in the minors, and even with mediocre MLB rates, he was above-average in terms of run prevention.
2014 Steamer projection: 7.0 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 3.92 FIP, 3.83 ERA
Ryan Webb (27, RH) - The Marlins non-tendered Webb because they're a cheapskate team run by a crooked owner, and Webb is probably in line for $1.5 million or so in 2014. Webb had a 2.91 ERA in 80.1 innings, making him 1 of just 7 pitchers to throw 80+ innings of relief in 2013. His peripherals say he isn't as good as that ERA, but still put him above average, with a strong sinkerball that helps him avoid allowing home runs.
2014 Steamer projection: 6.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 3.68 FIP, 3.59 ERA
Anyone there you'd like to see the Tribe make a run at???