2011 MLB Free Agency: Ranking the 15 Best Pitchers Who Will Be Available
The trade deadline has come and went, and we have officially hit the dog days of summer. Two months left in the season and a lot to still be sorted out.
You usually see a lot of potential free agents moved at the deadline so teams get some type of compensation and aren't left with nothing but not necessarily this year.
This installment will look at the potential free agents going into the 2012 season.
Please note, some of the players on this list will have either a team, player or mutual option to return to their respective teams.
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Dempster has a $14 million player option he could pick up after this offseason and stick with the Cubs one more season.
It’s highly unlikely he would leave $14 million on the table, but if his desire to win is greater than his desire to get paid, Dempster could be leaving the north side after this season for greener pastures.
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It seems every time a trade got mentioned these past two seasons involving the Padres, Bell’s name was involved.
He was not dealt at the deadline and really seems content playing in San Diego.
Who can blame him with the weather? If Bell doesn’t mind another couple losing seasons in San Diego, he won’t be going anywhere this offseason.
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Capps had his meal ticket revoked after his tenure as the Twins closer was taken away by Joe Nathan in the middle of July.
Still though, Capps is a closer that is capable, when right, of saving games. He showed that last year with the Nationals and the Twins.
Capps won’t be back with the Twins, but a team will take a flyer on him next season.
Before the Yankees re-signed Mariano Rivera last year, the talk was the Red Sox were going to sweep in and get the great closer. That in itself, along with the signing of Bobby Jenks as a backup, was a clear indication that Boston might not be ready to sign a long-term deal with their All-Star closer.
Unless something drastic happens and GM Theo Epstein has a change of heart, I think Papelbon is gone, and the new closer in Boston will be Daniel Bard for the 2012 season.
Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson
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I’m putting these two pitchers together because they are synonymous with the closer role in Philadelphia.
Lidge has a club option for 2012 while Madson will become a free agent.
If Lidge decides to return to the Phillies, they may try and re-sign Madson as an insurance policy.
If Lidge and the Phillies cut ties, I see the Phillies either going after Papelbon or staying with Madson for 2012.
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K-Rod was the first big name traded this offseason, going to the Brewers. I still haven’t gotten used to him in a Brewers uniform, and I don’t think I should.
The “Crew” has a solid closer in John Axford so I can’t see them picking up K-Rod for the 2012 season.
However, if they can’t re-sign Prince Fielder (a foregone conclusion they probably won’t), the Brewers may decide to go the route of pitching and keep K-Rod around at least for another year and parlay him into prospects later in next season.
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Valverde is another closer that could be looking for work after the season.
Tiger owner Mike Illitch has stated that he wants a playoff and championship team, and these teams need closers.
He is under team control for 2012, but if that championship isn't secured, Valverde could be on his way out.
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Sabathia can opt out of his contract after this season (although highly unlikely) and go for an even bigger payday than the one he received when he signed with the Yankees.
He could conceivably opt out, and make the Yankees bid against themselves much like they did with Derek Jeter this past offseason.
Nobody will be able to give Sabathia the money he would command except the Yankees and with the pitching staff the way it is, Sabathia could become the highest paid pitcher in baseball this offseason.
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I can’t help but wonder when the season starts, if Jackson will put all of his belongs in a couple of suitcases and takes it wherever he goes. The trade from the White Sox to the Blue Jays to the Cardinals is his sixth team respectively in his career.
He has a no-hitter to his credit, and while with the White Sox logged some big innings and was a force the last couple months of the 2010 season. He wasn’t necessarily bad this year, but GM Kenny Williams thought it necessary to trade a starter, and the odd man out was Jackson.
Jackson will land on his feet as a bottom-of-the-rotation guy but will help whatever team he goes to and then help another team at the trade deadline.
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Broxton burst on the scene a couple years ago and seemed to be destined for stardom, but a couple of rocky months last year and an elbow injury this year has derailed the momentum he once possessed.
Still, when healthy, Broxton is as an intimidating closer as there is in the majors, and if healthy, will definitely help a team in need of that ninth-inning specialist.
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Another pitcher that could be on the move next year is Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt.
Oswalt hasn’t been the same this year with chronic back problems and it was rumored earlier in the summer that he may call it good after this season.
At 33 years old, he’s been around the block a time or two. The big question is if the Phillies win the World Series, will he try and use that as motivation for one more big payday (a possible three-year deal) or will he opt to stay with the Phillies and try for a possible repeat.
This is all based on the Phillies winning it all this year.
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Buehrle seems to have been around forever. The 32-year-old has been a mainstay in the Chicago White Sox rotation for years and has done some pretty amazing things while being part of it.
The potential multi-million dollar question is will he be with the south siders next year?
GM Kenny Williams recently dealt Edwin Jackson to ultimately pick up Jason Frasor, but the Sox were also dealing with a six-man rotation.
I believe the White Sox will try and re-sign Buehrle much like they did face-of-the-franchise Paul Konerko but at a sharply reduced price.
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Marquis shocked a lot of people in 2010 when he signed with the Washington Nationals during free agency.
He is now with the Diamondbacks and ready to become a free agent again after this season.
I don’t see him as a top-of-the-rotation kind of guy, but if some of the above do not opt out of their contracts, he may be one of the more attractive free-agent pitchers out there.
Wilson is probably the ace of the Rangers' staff. After a career in the bullpen, Wilson got the nod to start last year and ran with it.
That success has continued into this year. The Rangers have a deep farm system, as shown in their ability to trade for Mike Adams and Cliff Lee the past two seasons, so it will depend if Nolan Ryan believes they have somebody who can step into Wilson’s role next year.
If not, he would be a solid No. 2 or even a No. 1 for a team next year.
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Nathan has an option for 2012, and this is another case of a team that may decide to go a different direction next year.
As you’ve seen, I already have Matt Capps on this list so I would highly doubt that Twins would let their All-Time saves leader walk after this season.
However, whether it’s a fluke or not, Glen Perkins has done a tremendous job as the eighth-inning, setup guy for Nathan, and it’s possible they would promote him to closer if Nathan was to walk after next season.