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2014 MLB Free Agents: Pitchers with Unrealistic Asking Prices

Sep 14, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Alex EspinozaCorrespondent IIINovember 20, 2013

The MLB hot stove is on full blast as the first wave of major signings is starting to happen around the league. Among the most notable agreements to be made in recent days are righty Tim Hudson joining the San Francisco Giants, per ESPN.com; catcher Carlos Ruiz staying put with the Philadelphia Phillies, per CBS Sports' Matt Snyder; and Josh Johnson signing with the San Diego Padres, per ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

There are sure to be moves made as the market gets solidified with more agreements between free agents and teams, but some players may have to wait longer than others because of unrealistic contract demands.

Let's take a look at three pitchers who are seeking too much from their prospective employers this offseason on the free-agent market.

 

Ervin Santana, RHP

Santana is widely regarded as one of the top pitchers on the market after posting a solid 2013 campaign. As a member of the Kansas City Royals, Santana went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 6.9 K/9 rate.

Those are solid numbers for Santana, who turns 31 in less than a month, but not worthy of the five-year, $112 million deal he is seeking this winter, as reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

When you're paying a pitcher more than $20 million annually, you expect a consistent ace in return. While Santana has three 15-win seasons on his resume, the last one came in 2010, and he's been largely inconsistent for his whole career.

Only once has he been able to string consecutive years together with sub-4.00 ERAs, but he has three different seasons when his ERA has been above 5.00. While his average of 194 innings pitched from 2006-13 is certainly something to boast about, his negotiating team should lower its expectations.

 

Jason Vargas, LHP

Sep 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jason Vargas (60) throws a pitch in the first inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The 30-year-old southpaw has been a durable starter the past four seasons with the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels, with last year's blood clot injury serving as the only reason he's been on the disabled list during that time.

Even with the blood clot causing him to miss about 10 starts this year, Vargas has averaged 190 innings per season since 2010, posting a combined 42-44 record, 3.97 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in that span. Those are good numbers for a middle-of-the-rotation arm, but not worthy of the three-year deal in the neighborhood of $30 million that Vargas is potentially seeking, per Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.

His ceiling doesn't figure to get much higher going forward, and he looks to be a No. 3 or possibly even a No. 4 starter in some rotations as he gets older. While it's understandable that Vargas wants long-term security, he might be better served lowering his asking price, either in years or dollars.

 

Ricky Nolasco, RHP

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Ricky Nolasco #47 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on September 25, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Like Santana, Nolasco is looking for a five-year deal, except his asking price is $80 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

That's way too much for Nolasco, who has a 4.37 ERA during his eight-year MLB career. Nolasco might feel he's worth $16 million a year after going 13-11 with a 3.70 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 7.4 K/9 rate with the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013.

While he was certainly a sensation upon joining the Dodgers, going 8-1 with a 2.07 ERA in his first 12 starts with Los Angeles, he came back down to earth in his final three September starts, posting a 12.75 ERA while opponents hit .393 off of him.

He's simply too big of a risk at this point for someone who is asking for ace money. At best, he's a No. 2, and at worst, he's a bottom-of-the-rotation contributor.

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