MLB Free Agent Rumors: Top Suitors for the Top 10 Pitchers Still on the Market
The market for MLB free-agent pitchers is now decidedly thinner, but suitors for those pitchers are still out there, ready to pounce.
With almost all of the top-tier pitchers now signed away, teams will start taking a look at the second-tier options as they finalize their rosters for the spring.
Based on the latest rumors, here are the top suitors for each available pitcher still hunting for a job.
10. Brandon Lyon
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
After a 2011 season that saw him struggle with injuries, reliever Brandon Lyon put together a healthy and solid 2012 campaign.
And yet no one is knocking on his door.
Lyon posted a 3.10 ERA in 67 appearances for the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays. However, he still sits at home waiting for his phone to ring.
Top Suitors: Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers
The Jays could still bring Lyon back, but at this point general manager Alex Anthopoulos might look for cheaper options.
The Rangers could be interested in bringing Lyon aboard. Joakim Soria is out until at least early May, and Neftali Feliz is likely out until after the All-Star break.
9. Matt Lindstrom
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Much like Brandon Lyon, right-handed relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom hasn't received much attention this offseason.
Lindstrom posted a strong 2.68 ERA in 46 appearances for the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks last season.
Top Suitors: Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants
As mentioned in the previous slide with Lyon, the Rangers could have interest in Lindstrom as well, with Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz both shelved for what could be a significant portion of next season.
The Giants were interested in adding Jason Grilli before he decided to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates. They could now set their sights on Lindstrom.
8. Joe Saunders
Starting pitcher Joe Saunders made his presence felt last season for the Baltimore Orioles. Saunders pitched very well down the stretch and won the first postseason game in Baltimore in 15 years.
Now, Saunders is still waiting to find out where he'll be pitching next season.
Top Suitors: Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins
The Orioles have expressed interest in bringing Saunders back, but thus far have only met with Saunders' agent without an offer being extended.
The Twins extended an offer to Saunders in early December.
7. J.P. Howell
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
After a rough 2011 season in which he was still recovering from shoulder surgery, reliever J.P. Howell put up solid numbers last year for the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 55 appearances, Howell posted a 3.04 ERA, a 1.212 WHIP and a 7.5 K/9 rate. Howell held left-handed hitters to just a .200 average for the season.
Top Suitors: Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers
The Nationals are looking to replace lefty Sean Burnett in their bullpen and are said to be interested in Howell.
According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, the Phillies, Cubs, Mariners and Rangers are all eyeballing Howell for their bullpens as well.
6. Francisco Liriano
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
For a man who has a no-hitter to his credit, Francisco Liriano isn't getting much of a look on the open market.
Liriano's Jekyll and Hyde-type pitching performance is likely the reason why. While he can tantalize batters with an array of electric stuff, he can also infuriate coaches and his manager with his inconsistency.
The Chicago White Sox acquired Liriano at the trade deadline last season, hoping he could help the Pale Hose in their march toward the postseason. Liriano fell short, posting a 3-2 record and 5.40 ERA in 11 starts.
Top Suitors: Minnesota Twins
The Twins extended a low-ball offer to bring Liriano back to Minnesota, but talks have gone nowhere since.
UPDATE: FOX Sports is reporting that the Pirates and Liriano have agreed to a 2 year, $14 million deal
5. Brian Wilson
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson will be ready to go at the start of next season following his rehab from Tommy John surgery.
It's just not clear yet where Wilson will be.
Top Suitors: Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants
There is still a possibility that Wilson could return to San Francisco, but it would be with the understanding that Sergio Romo is the closer.
4. Shaun Marcum
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
There's been very little conversation in the past week concerning free-agent starting pitcher Shaun Marcum.
Several teams expressed interest earlier in the offseason but either went with different options or never did anything to back up their original intent.
Marcum's elbow is certainly an issue. Just three years removed from Tommy John surgery, Marcum was shelved with elbow pain last season, spending two months on the disabled list.
Top Suitors: Chicago Cubs
The Cubs made a strong play for free-agent starter Anibal Sanchez, but he opted to return to the Detroit Tigers. The Cubs could now set their sights on Marcum for less money and as an option for the short term.
3. Edwin Jackson
Rob Carr/Getty Images
While the market appeared soft on him earlier this offseason, interest has certainly picked up for free-agent pitcher Edwin Jackson.
Jackson's demands for a multi-year deal last offseason scared teams away, forcing him to accept a one-year, $11 million contract with the Washington Nationals in February.
Top Suitors: Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres
According to Jim Bowden of ESPN (h/t Chicago Tribune), the Cubs are one of the finalists for Jackson's services.
The Rangers are also interested, especially after losing out on Zack Greinke. Colby Lewis likely won't be back until June as well, so depth is an issue in Texas.
The Padres were the front-runners for a while, but backed off when Jackson reportedly wanted a fourth year added to the deal.
Update: ESPN is reporting that the Cubs and Jackson are close to finalizing a four-year, $52 million contract.
The Cubs also signed free-agent pitcher Carlos Villanueva to a two-year, $10 million contract, pending a physical.
2. Rafael Soriano
Former New York Yankees closer Rafael Soriano may ultimately end up regretting his decision to opt out of the final year of his contract.
Thus far, the market for Soriano has been virtually non-existent, despite his tremendous 2012 campaign (2.26 ERA, 42 saves).
Top Suitors: Detroit Tigers
Try as he might, Scott Boras is trying to convince the Tigers they can't do without his client. Thus far, Detroit has resisted Boras' advances. With the Tigers currently not playing well with Boras, Soriano is left hanging in the wind.
1. Kyle Lohse
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
With a 30-11 record and 3.11 ERA in his past two seasons, free-agent starting pitcher Kyle Lohse is still left wondering where he'll be drawing a paycheck next season.
Top Suitors: Texas Rangers
The Rangers are still looking to fill a void and could now turn to Lohse. Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas discussed that possibility on Monday.
However, there's been very little buzz concerning Lohse in the past week. He was thought to be a target of the Boston Red Sox before they signed Ryan Dempster to a two-year deal.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.