5 Lower-Cost Free-Agent Pitchers Worth a Look by the Red Sox

Andrew MartinCorrespondent IIINovember 25, 2012

5 Lower-Cost Free-Agent Pitchers Worth a Look by the Red Sox

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    The Boston Red Sox finished 2012 with a 4.72 team ERA, making pitching one of their primary areas of need following a 93-loss season.

    According to WEEI, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington announced on the Boston-area Dennis and Callahan Show that the team intends to have a significant payroll in 2013.

    ESPNBoston believes that the Red Sox would need to spend in excess of $100 million in 2013 in order to reach payroll levels of recent years. In particular, the pitching staff has holes that could be filled by using some of that available cash, but that could be problematic.

    CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reported that Boston doesn't intend to pursue Zack Greinke, the consensus best available pitcher. This may tempt the team to overpay lesser options like Edwin Jackson or Kyle Lohse.

    Just because the Red Sox have money to spend doesn't mean that they should ignore lower-cost options. Pitching depth is always at a premium and the Red Sox should explore any pitchers who might provide more insurance than what they had last season.

    There are a number of intriguing free-agent pitchers who won’t break the bank, but have the potential of paying off big. Click through to see five of these pitchers the Red Sox should explore to possibly improve their 2013 pitching staff.

Scott Feldman

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    Feldman shouldn't be counted on as a top starter or shutdown reliever, but he represents the type of depth that most teams crave. The right-hander spent the last eight seasons with the Texas Rangers, shuttling between the bullpen and the starting rotation, and could do the same in Boston.

    Feldman survived pitching his entire career so far in the launching pad known as the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, which according to ESPN’s Park Factor was the fourth-best hitters’ park in baseball in 2012. With that experience, he should have little problem moving to Fenway Park, which was considered the third best hitter’s park last year.

    Having allowed 9.6 hits per nine innings in his career, Feldman pitches to contact. His 4.81 career ERA is nothing special, but he is a capable major league pitcher who can keep his team in games.

    Feldman won 17 games in 2009, but according to ESPNDallas’s Richard Durrett, struggled in recent years because of a lingering knee injury. Now that he is healthier, he may be able to regain some of his former success.

Jon Rauch

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    The 6’11” right-handed Rauch is the tallest pitcher in MLB history. He has also been one of the game’s most consistent relievers in recent years.

    Since 2006, Rauch has averaged 72 relief appearances per season, while pitching for five different teams. His has valuable versatility, as he has worked as both a set-up man and closer.

    The New York Post’s Mike Puma believes the Mets allowed Rauch to leave because of their desire to have a 2013 payroll under $100 million, while attempting to negotiate long-term extensions with stars David Wright and R.A. Dickey. Their budget squeeze could be to the Red Sox benefit.

    Rauch shouldn't command a huge salary and could be plugged into just about any role in the Red Sox bullpen. His veteran presence would also be welcome, as younger relievers like Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon are attempting to rebound from disastrous 2012 seasons.

Chien-Ming Wang

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    It seems like a lifetime ago that Wang won 19 games in back-to back seasons for the New York Yankees in 2006 and 2007. Since then he has endured a litany of injuries, causing him to miss a lot of time and post results like the 6.68 ERA he had with the Washington Nationals in 2012.

    Despite his recent track record, Wang would be worth a look if Boston could get him on a minor league or cheap one-year deal. He will turn 33 before the 2013 season starts, but hasn't pitched a full season since 2007.

    Wang’s strength is his sinker, which is the type of pitch that plays very well at homer-friendly Fenway Park. He has never allowed more than 12 home runs in any of his seven major league seasons, and can cause batters to pound the ball into the ground when his sinker is on.

    According to FanGraphs.com, Wang’s average sinker velocity of 90.9 MPH last season was the highest it’s been since 2007.

    It would be worth the Red Sox investigating if Wang still offered any value as a long man in the bullpen or as starting depth, as they can move on with little lost if they don't like what they see.

Roberto Hernandez

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    Prior to the 2012 season, Hernandez was known as Fausto Carmona and listed three years younger than his actual age. His deceptions led to his arrest in the Dominican Republic last January for identity fraud.

    Despite his transgressions, the Cleveland Indians brought back the disgraced right-hander in 2012, but he appeared in only three major league games, going 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA.

    The same reasons the Red Sox may want to kick the tires on Chien-Ming Wang apply to Hernandez. At his best he is a sinker-ball pitcher, who induces lots of ground balls. According to FanGraphs.com, he has better than a 2-1 ground-ball to fly-ball ratio for his career.

    Now that Hernandez has the identity kerfuffle behind him, the Red Sox may want to see if the 32-year-old can regain the form that previously allowed him to win as many as 19 games in a season.

Brett Myers

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    Myers could help the Red Sox in multiple ways, as he has been both an effective starter and a solid reliever during his career.

    The right-handed Myers pitched exclusively in relief and had 19 saves last season. However, it was as recent as 2010 that he earned 14 wins and a 10th-place finish in the NL Cy Young race. Presumably, he could fill whatever role the Red Sox would like, but 1500ESPN.com reported that he is hoping to start next season.

    Coming off his last contract, worth $20 million over two years, it’s unlikely Myers will approach that type of average salary in his next deal.

    The Star Tribune’s Joe Christiansen reports that Myers has been contacted by the Minnesota Twins. However, there don’t seem to be many other rumors regarding Myers so far this offseason.

    According to Christiansen, Myers could be tempted most by being offered more than one year. His agent, Craig Landis was quoted as saying, "He's pretty much focused on finding a starting job. If we did a multi-year deal, and somebody wants to put him in the bullpen, he's done that twice before."

    If the Red Sox felt like they could offer him a two-year contract at a modest rate, that might allow them to swoop in and pick him up while other teams are focusing on higher profile free-agents.

    Statistics via BaseballReference