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Kansas City Royals SP James Shields
1. James Shields, Kansas City Royals
Shields was one of the top arms in the AL East before the Tampa Bay Rays shipped him to the Kansas City Royals this offseason.
Shields won 15 games for the Rays last season to along with a 3.52 ERA across 33 starts. He’s 13 wins shy of 100 for his career and has registered a sub-4.00 ERA over his seven seasons. Kansas City holds a $12 million on him for 2014.
2. Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees
Hiroki Kuroda turned out to be the best move that the New York Yankees made last offseason. Kuroda won 16 games for the Bronx Bombers and posted a 3.32 ERA over 33 starts. He signed a one-year deal with the Yankees this offseason and will hit the open market again next winter.
3. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
Tim Lincecum had a fluke year in 2012. It wasn’t like anything we had ever seen before from the lanky right-hander. Despite being a Cy Young Award candidate each year beforehand, Lincecum won just 10 games and saw his walk rate and ERA skyrocket compared to previous seasons. He was basically restricted to relief work during the postseason. Should he return to form in 2013, he will earn himself a huge deal on the open market.
4. Josh Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays
Despite battling shoulder issues the past couple of seasons, Josh Johnson is still one of the better right-handers in baseball. Considering that he was pitching for one of the worst teams in baseball (the Miami Marlins), winning at least 11 games in two of the last four seasons is actually an accomplishment. His ERA has stayed extremely low as well. Johnson will pitch for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 after the Miami Marlins cleaned house this offseason.
5. Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs
Matt Garza has had two interesting seasons for the Chicago Cubs. In 2011, he went 10-10 with 198 innings pitched. Last season, he was restricted to just 18 starts due to a stress fracture in his pitching elbow, but ended the season at 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA. He pitched extremely well in his three seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, and a healthy season could be what Garza needs to get back on track. The 2013 season is the last year where he’ll be arbitration-eligible.
6. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox
Jon Lester had a down year for the Boston Red Sox in 2012, but has still been a very valuable left-hander over the last couple of seasons. Lester has won at least 15 games in four of the last five campaigns, tossing at least 200 innings in all but one of those seasons. The Red Sox hold a $13 million option on him for 2014 that they could easily exercise—which would probably be less expensive than if he were to hit the open market.
7. Johan Santana, New York Mets
I would be absolutely shocked if the New York Mets exercised their $25 million team option on Johan Santana so that he’d pitch for them in 2014. Santana has been good since coming to New York, but not great. He’s pitched nowhere close to the level that he did while with the Minnesota Twins. He has won 46 games in his three seasons with the Mets, while also posting a 3.18 ERA across 700-plus innings.
8. Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants hold a $6.5 million option that they can exercise on Ryan Vogelsong after the 2013 season, but until they do, he’ll be a free agent next winter. Vogelsong has been a reliable arm in the middle of the Giants’ rotation, winning 27 games over the past two years with low ERAs. He’s also been very good in the postseason, allowing just three earned runs in 24.2 innings last year.
9. Gavin Floyd, Chicago White Sox
Gavin Floyd suffered from inflammation and a strain in his throwing elbow last season which restricted him from pitching in close to 200 innings. He hasn’t reached that plateau since 2008 when he won 17 games. But he’s won around 11 games consistently over the past four seasons, throwing around 190 innings in each.
10. Phil Hughes, New York Yankees
Phil Hughes recently avoided arbitration with the New York Yankees, his fifth and final season as an arbitration-eligible player. Hughes has had issues with his shoulder in the past, but he has still won 39 games over the last three seasons with a decent 4.48 ERA.