The pitching market this offseason has gone from relatively shallow and predictably full of stop-gap options for the back end of a rotation to overpriced and generally perplexing. The pitchers who have either been signed or dealt this offseason make it hard to imagine Houston in play for any type of difference maker on the mound.
Now in the Winter Meetings, Ed Wade is most likely scouring the market for starting pitching options. First off, with the contract given to Jayson Werth and the news Cliff Lee is most likely getting a 7-yr deal at 32 years of age, Houston is out of the running for the lefthander (if they were ever truly in it). But beyond Lee, the opportunities are dwindling and the price tag is high.
- The Milwaukee Brewers got Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays for their top prospect, Brett Lawrie. Lawrie plays second base and was ranked the #59 prospect in baseball heading into 2010. This year he hit .285/.346/.451 with 8 homeruns and 30 stolen bases as a 20 year old in Double-A.
- Aaron Harang has signed a 1-yr, $4 million deal with the San Diego Padres. At this point in his career, Harang is basically a shot in the dark and I’m not sure paying $4 million to roll the dice is a good practice. But the Padres did sign Mark Prior a couple years ago and have put up with Chris Young’s injury history for years so at least Harang gives them a better chance of consistent production than those two.
- Kevin Correia will join the Pittsburgh Pirates staff for 2 years and $8 million. After a breakout 2009, Correia had an ERA of 5.40 in 145 innings.
- The Dodgers were actually fortunate to resign Vicente Padilla as they seem to have gotten a large discount from the veteran pitcher who obviously wanted to stay in the pitcher-friendly Chavez Ravine. Padilla signed a 1 year deal for $2 million. Padilla would have certainly stood to earn more than Harang or Correia on the open market.
If the available pitchers on the free agent market continue to sign with teams at this rate, the price will only increase as the pool of talent decreases. This is great for the players involved. It is not great for teams acting as buyers. Also, with the steep price the Brewers paid to land a guy with a good-but-not-great ERA of 3.64 after missing an entire season due to injuries, the trade market may not be much friendlier. Ed Wade will certainly have his work cut out for him this winter.