Top 10 free-agent starting pitchers for 2020-21

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The market for starting pitchers this offseason is thin, but there are a few intriguing free-agent options. Here's a look at the top 10.

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1/10

Age: 30

Bauer is the premier starting pitcher in this year's free-agent market after a Cy Young-caliber campaign in which he posted a 1.73 ERA and 0.79 WHIP with Cincinnati. Making Bauer's free agency even more interesting is he has said he'll only sign one-year contracts throughout his career. Will he keep that promise?

2/10

Age: 29

Stroman's tenure with the New York Mets was cut short as he decided to opt-out of the 2020 MLB campaign. The right-hander has shown flashes of brilliance when healthy, including in 2019 when he had a solid 3.22 ERA in 32 starts between New York and Toronto.

UPDATE (Nov. 12): Stroman will remain in New York after accepting the Mets' one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer.

3/10

Age: 32

It may finally be time for a change of scenery for Tanaka, who has spent all seven of his MLB seasons in Yankees pinstripes. Tanaka is a consistent arm who has thrived in the postseason and would be a solid pickup for any team in need of a starter they can count on every fifth day.

UPDATE (Jan. 28): Turns out Tanaka won't be signing with any major league team. The right-hander is returning to his native Japan in 2021 to play for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, he announced on Twitter.

4/10

Age: 34

When the Rangers signed Corey Kluber, this is not what they had planned. The two-time Cy Young award winner injured his shoulder in the first inning of his Rangers debut and was ruled out for the rest of the season.

Now that Texas has declined Kluber's $18 million option, expect the veteran right-hander to be one of the most coveted arms on the free-agent market.

UPDATE (Jan. 15): Kluber is headed to the Yankees on a one-year deal worth north of $10 million.

5/10

Age: 32

Paxton was a bit of a letdown for Yankees fans who had high hopes for the ex-Mariners southpaw. His first year in the Bronx was OK as he went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA, but those aren't the ace-like numbers that were expected from him. 2020 was a disaster as Paxton struggled to a 6.64 ERA in five starts, then missed the rest of the year with a strained forearm flexor.

That being said, Paxton is still one of the more talented arms on this year's free-agent market, and the price tag shouldn't be too hefty coming off his disappointing season.

6/10

Age: 29

Three years ago, Ray finished seventh in NL Cy Young voting after going 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA in Arizona. The left-hander has since been unable to duplicate those impressive numbers.

In 2020, Ray had a lowly 6.62 ERA in 12 games between the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays. His numbers from 2018 and '19 suggest, however, he could still be a solid back-end rotation piece.

UPDATE (Nov. 7): Ray will remain in Toronto, signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Blue Jays.

7/10

Age: 30

Odorizzi bet on himself by accepting his qualifying offer with the Twins in 2019, and it didn't work in his favor. The right-hander posted a 6.59 ERA in four starts and missed most of the 2020 season due to injury. Whichever team picks Odorizzi up will be hoping for the '19 version who was named an All-Star and finished with a 3.51 ERA.

8/10

Age: 36

Lester has likely thrown his last pitch in a Cubs uniform, which makes him an intriguing free agent option this winter. The former Red Sox southpaw's best days are clearly behind him, but perhaps a Boston reunion is in order for 2021?

UPDATE (Jan. 18): Lester has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals.

9/10

Age: 28

Walker looked great in 2020 with both the Mariners and Blue Jays, finishing the season with a 2.70 ERA in 11 starts. Injuries have been an issue throughout Walker's career, but when healthy he's proven to be a solid contributor for the middle of a rotation.

10/10

Age: 32

The Rangers are kicking themselves for not trading Mike Minor in the middle of his All-Star 2019 season, because the southpaw hasn't been the same since. In 2020 between Texas and Oakland, Minor saw his ERA balloon to 5.56. While those certainly aren't the results he was hoping for, Minor still can be a valuable arm for a big-league rotation.

UPDATE (Dec. 2): Minor has agreed to a two-year deal with the Kansas City Royals that includes a club option for the 2023 season.

 

MLB Free Agency: Top 20 overall
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