With Steven Strasburg taking himself off the market, the cupboard is looking extra bare for teams looking for pitching help next offseason. After an incredibly robust market last offseason, what we're left with are the dregs who couldn't gin up a long term contract. Let's rip through the top candidates from the least appealing to the most.
10) Jeremy Hellickson
Forever chasing the promise of his Rookie of the Year campaign. But it's been four years since Hellickson was any good.
9) Mat Latos
No one likes Mat Latos, but this year that group includes opposing hitters. Latos's results have been great, with a 2.62 ERA and a 5-0 record in six starts, but he's only struck out 19 in 34 innings. Expect a regression.
8) Scott Feldman
Steady, dependable, decent. These are words to describe Scott Feldman. Other words to describe Scott Feldman include unsexy, fragile, and not in Houston's starting rotation anymore.
7) CC Sabathia
Yankees fans jumped all over me last week when I said Sabathia was struggling this year, and they were probably right to. If he can get healthy, he'll have a chance to show that he can succeed with reduced velocity (his fastball is down to just 88 MPH on average). God knows the Yankees need him this year, but there's no way they're paying another $25 million to stay around.
6) Jorge De La Rosa
De La Rosa has always been underrated due to pitching in Colorado. He's also had injury problems in the past, but has been relatively durable the last three seasons. He's a trainwreck this year, allowing seven homers in five starts, and walking more batters than he ever has, but his strikeouts are also way up. I'm guessing we're seeing an early-season blip, and that De La Rosa will be a pretty good bargain addition for some team, even though that 10.18 ERA is super scary.
5) Andrew Cashner
When the Padres announced that they would make Cashner into a starter in 2012, there were snickers. Well, they did successfully make him into a starter. But they didn't necessarily make him into a good one. The last two years have been horribly disappointing, as Cashner has an 84 ERA+ since the start of 2015. His 4.43 ERA is especially awful given that he's pitching in San Diego. Maybe he's a guy who just needs a change of scenery?
4) Rich Hill
There are fragile pitchers. There are really fragile pitchers. And then there's Rich Hill. I reserve the right to pull him off this list the moment he gets hurt or bump him way up if he stays healthy. He's been incredible this year, striking out 46 batters in 38 innings, with a 2.39 ERA.
3) Brett Anderson
Anderson is still relatively young; he'll be 29 in 2017. And when he's been on the field, he's been a fine number three starter. But he has just two years in seven in which he's thrown more than 115 innings, and he's out until August, at least, after back surgery this Spring. Some guys just weren't made to last. Alas, such is the career of Brett Anderson (and Rich Hill). It's a testament to how weak this crop is that he's still number three.
2) Clay Buchholz
Like Anderson and Hill, Buchholz has had a myriad of injury problems in his career. Unlike Anderson, he has truly struggled at times, especially when he can't throw strikes. Maddeningly inconsistent is how I'd put it. This year, he has a 5.90 ERA in seven starts, with fielding independent numbers that are not much better. He's walking guys and allowing homers, and he's about to be 32. Buyer beware, but his upside is better than just about anybody else on this list.
1) James Shields
Shields is almost certain to opt out after this year, especially after Strasburg cleared the field. And if he's traded mid-season, he won't even cost the team that gets him a draft pick. He gives up too many homers, he's walking more, and his strikeouts are down. That's an awful combination, but he's also the guy who the Rays and the Royals trusted as their de facto ace just a couple years ago.