The San Francisco Giants have a serious need for a starting pitcher, and Bronson Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco and Scott Feldman are the top candidates right now.
The Giants had been previously linked to signing Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka by John Shea of SFGate.com.
After spending freely on Tim Lincecum and Hunter Pence, the Giants have little reason for getting outbid for the top pitcher on the market.
He'll cost more than $100 million including the posting fee and contract, each likely to surpass $60 million. For the big-market, high-revenue Giants, it's doable, especially with the arrival of their generous holiday gift package - the new national TV deals.
However, since the team has already committed to spending $130 million next season, it probably won't be able to afford Tanaka's price tag.
After coming to terms with the fact that they won't be signing this year's most intriguing pitcher on the market, the Giants are left with Arroyo, Nolasco and Feldman as their top options. But which one would fit best in San Francisco?
Let's take a look.
2013 Team: Cincinnati Reds
2013 Stats: 32 GS, 14-12, 3.79 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2.5 WAR
Bronson Arroyo will turn 37 this offseason, but he's as durable as ever. He's made at least 30 starts in each of the last 10 seasons, and there's no reason to expect that streak to end next season.
In fact, Arroyo's durability is a point of pride for him, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
That's where most of my ego lies, to be honest with you. I try to stay a humble guy, but we all got somewhat of an ego. If we didn't, we wouldn't be able to compete. Mine lies mostly in my durability and my consistency.
That consistency is a valuable trait in today's game, when we see pitchers go down at an alarming rate.
Perhaps it's that consistency and reliability that makes Arroyo such an asset, and it's what has the Giants interested in him.
Arroyo is coming off another strong year, and he could certainly have one more with the Giants in AT&T Park.
When pitching in AT&T Park, Arroyo is 1-4 with a 3.27 ERA in his seven starts. While his record might not show it, the pitcher-friendly park is a good fit for Arroyo.
Thanks to his slow fastball, Arroyo would be a good fit for AT&T Park. Hitters are less likely to drive slower pitches far enough to clear the walls of AT&T Park, and Arroyo has a very slow fastball. Instead, he chooses to beat opponents with his breaking balls and accuracy.
According to PitchFX, Arroyo's fastest pitch of the year clocked in at just 91.1 mph, with his fastball consistently averaging 87.0 mph.
Over the last three seasons, Arroyo has given up 104 home runs combined. This is a big reason why he has failed to be a dominant pitcher. However, with slow pitches that hitters won't be able to drive, Arroyo's tendency to give up home runs will become less of a problem.
2013 Team: Miami Marlins/Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats: 33 GS, 13-11, 3.70 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 1.8 WAR
Ricky Nolasco is another pitcher on the team's radar, and after a strong finish to the 2013 season after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, it's not hard to see why.
While he struggled with the pitiful Marlins for half the year, Nolasco proved that he just needs to be on a contending team to be at his best.
Nolasco has been targeted by the Giants for months. The team made a run at him before the trade deadline this year.
One rival GM who's trying to get Nolasco himself believes Sabean will win bidding war #SFGiants— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 25, 2013
The Giants saw potential in Nolasco long ago, and now they're looking to acquire him once again.
Nolasco has some filthy pitches in his arsenal, including a fastball that averages 90.4 mph and hit 94.9 mph at its peak, per FanGraphs. Combine that with a nasty slider that he threw more than any other pitch this season, and Nolasco has something special.
Despite throwing a fastball with solid velocity, Nolasco has not been hit hard in pitcher-friendly parks like AT&T Park. In fact, he's 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA in six starts in AT&T in his career, during which he's averaged more than seven innings per outing.
The Giants would love for him to continue that success for an entire season if they sign him.
2013 Team: Chicago Cubs/Baltimore Orioles
2013 Stats: 30 GS, 12-12, 3.86 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 1.6 WAR
Scott Feldman is an intimidating pitcher at 6'7". He looks like a giant on the mound, but he doesn't use his height to his advantage.
Despite his size, Feldman has a very slow fastball. His cutter comes in at just 87.9 mph, per FanGraphs.
Feldman is unable to overpower opponents, and that has led to some inconsistency on his part over the past few years.
Despite posting ERAs below 4.00 in 2011 and 2013, Feldman had ERAs well over 5.00 in 2010 and 2012.
Feldman's slow pitches should help him in AT&T Park, but he has actually struggled mightily in San Francisco. He has gone 0-3 with an ERA of 5.54 in four career appearances (two starts) in AT&T Park.
Feldman has also been generating a lot of interest from other teams, including the Orioles, whom he pitched for to end the season.
If Baltimore is willing to shell out some cash for Feldman, his price tag may become too high for the Giants.
The saving grace for Feldman is that he pitched well when he was with the Cubs, which was the only time he pitched for an NL team.
When pitching for AL teams, Feldman has never posted an ERA lower than 3.92, which came in 2006 (not counting an eight-game stint in 2005). However, when he pitched for the Cubs, he was 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA.
Perhaps Feldman's failures have occurred because he's been facing tougher offenses. The AL had eight of the top nine offenses this season and dominated the NL in terms of runs scored throughout the year.
There's a chance that Feldman could be successful in San Francisco simply because of the level of competition he would be facing.
If the Giants can only sign one of these guys, they cannot be hasty in their decision.
Feldman can be written off at this point. While his slow cutter and success against NL teams help, he's struggled in AT&T Park and has a rising price tag because of the interest from other teams.
The competition essentially comes down to Arroyo and Nolasco. The Giants have to decide between Arroyo's longevity and Nolasco's success in AT&T Park.
While signing either Arroyo or Nolasco would be a nice pickup for the Giants, the better option is Nolasco. The Giants have been after him for months, and signing him would be a huge boost to a starting rotation that desperately needs it.
Best Fit: Ricky Nolasco