Since the Los Angeles Angels took over the headlines by signing superstar Albert Pujols, Japanese ace Yu Darvish has been the main topic on the hot stove. MLB teams are going crazy to get Darvish, even at a very high price.
While clubs such as the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays are aggressively bidding for the 25-year-old righty, I believe there are four better starting pitchers available.
Unlike most of the attractive arms on the market, Darvish doesn't have any experience playing pro baseball in the U.S. Although he's pitched outstanding seasons in Japan and had a good World Baseball Classic tournament, Darvish hasn't thrown one MLB pitch yet.
Considering all those circumstances, Yu Darvish is likely going to be way overpaid. For teams looking to strengthen their rotation this offseason, there are a lot more affordable options out there.
Since 2008, Matt Garza has been one of the more effective starters in baseball. His ability to go deep into games and pick up wins is why he is an intriguing asset for many teams.
Injury problems are probably what kept Garza from having a breakout season last year, but he still posted a sub-4 ERA for the fifth straight year. With the Cubs' pitching issues right now, the chances of Garza leaving Chicago this winter are not very high.
There may not be a bargain for Matt Garza this offseason, but it'll still be a better deal than Yu Darvish.
Jair Jurrjens is one of few young pitchers on the verge of a breakout season. A big injury is what kept him from exploding into a star pitcher last year, but Jurrjens still earned a spot in the All-Star Game. With the big-time talent that Jurrjens has, it's no surprise that many teams have already looked into him.
Gio Gonzalez has been a well-heard name in MLB trade rumors ever since the offseason started. Like Garza and Jurrjens, Gonzalez is a young veteran with some past success in the league.
It's very clear that Gonzalez is on the way up in his surging career. There's no surprise that many large-market teams have already made efforts to add Gonzalez to their rotation. For interested clubs that have good hitting to offer Oakland, acquiring the 26-year-old southpaw could be virtually nothing compared to signing Darvish.
It has been a while now since James Shields was added to the blockbuster trade watch list. The Rays veteran had a incredible season last year, finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting.
"Big Game" James put up ridiculous stats in 2011, including 11 complete games and a stunning 2.82 ERA. Obviously, there are many teams that would love to get their hands on this ace. The demand for Shields is very high, but amazingly he is cheaper to acquire than Darvish.