Top 10 remaining MLB free agents: List of pitchers thinning out

Dallas Keuchel is one of the top arms on the market. (Kathy Willens/AP)

The MLB off-season has unfolded slowly for the second consecutive year, but the pitching market has shown signs of heating up of late.

The depth of talent has thinned out in recent weeks, but there are still a couple stars available in addition to plenty of serviceable arms. Yesterday we looked at the position players, now here are the top 10 pitchers yet to be signed…

1. Dallas Keuchel

Position: Left-handed starter
Age: 30
2018 stats: IP: 204.2 | ERA: 3.74 | WHIP: 1.31 | SO: 153 | BB: 58
Former team: Houston Astros
Potential fits: Phillies, Reds, Braves

The lone Cy Young winner on this list, Keuchel is a free agent for the first time and still looking to cash in on a handsome deal. He’s a proven top-of-the-rotation arm, although 2018 was far from his best showing. He had a solid ERA and logged 200 innings for the third time in his career, but gave up an MLB-high 211 hits and saw his strikeout rate drop by a full point. Nonetheless, he remains a steady performer and his three Gold Gloves certainly won’t hurt his case.

The latest: Keuchel reportedly turned down a $90-million extension from the Astros in 2016

2. Craig Kimbrel

Position: Right-handed reliever
Age: 30
2018 stats: IP: 62.1 | ERA: 2.74 | WHIP: 0.99 | SO: 96 | BB: 31
Former team: Boston Red Sox
Potential fits: Red Sox, Braves, Angels

An all-star in eight of the past nine seasons, Kimbrel has been as consistently dominant as any MLB closer, as evidenced by his career K/9 rate of 14.7. Kimbrel wasn’t at his best during the 2018 playoffs, but the Red Sox still won the World Series with him putting a bow on games. The price tag will surely be high, so he’s probably only a realistic option for big-market teams, but the payoff is huge as his presence instantly anchors a bullpen.

The latest: Kimbrel’s market appears “ridiculously small”

Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling take fans inside the Blue Jays and around MLB with news, analysis and interviews.

3. Adam Ottavino

Position: Right-handed reliever
Age: 33
2018 stats: IP: 171 | ERA: 2.43 | WHIP: 0.99 | SO: 112 | BB: 36
Former team: Colorado Rockies
Potential fits: Rockies, Yankees, Braves

Ottavino picked a perfect time to have the best season of his career. With relievers being relied on more than ever in today’s MLB, the 33-year-old and his 2.43 ERA (2.74 FIP) remain on the open market and are available to the highest bidder. The New York native is also particularly valuable because he’s proven capable of logging more than one inning at a time. What makes Ottavino’s stats even more impressive is that they came at Coors Field — a notoriously hitter-friendly stadium.

The latest: The Yankees are still interested in Ottavino even after signing Zach Britton

4. Gio Gonzalez

Position: Left-handed starter
Age: 33
2018 stats: IP: 77.2 | ERA: 4.21 | WHIP: 1.44 | SO: 148 | BB: 80
Former team: Milwaukee Brewers
Potential fits: Astros, Athletics, Brewers

Gonzalez’s all-star days are behind him, but the left-hander is still a serviceable option for teams looking for starting pitching. He benefitted from a mid-season trade from Washington to Milwaukee, posting a 2.13 ERA in five games with the Brewers down the stretch. Replicating those numbers over a full season would be far too much to ask from Gonzalez at this point in his career, but he can likely still provide an ERA around 4.00 and log 170-180 innings.

The latest: No recent rumours or reports

5. Wade Miley

Position: Left-handed starter
Age: 32
2018 stats: IP: 80.2 | ERA: 2.57 | WHIP: 1.21 | SO: 50 | BB: 27
Former team: Milwaukee Brewers
Potential fits: Reds, Nationals, Brewers

Miley posted the best numbers of his career with Milwaukee last season, but he only made 16 starts. It’s tough to fully buy in on a player who walked an MLB-high 93 batters two seasons ago, but he looked good in his medium sample size with the Brewers in 2018. Miley is useful as a back-end rotation piece with some potential upside.

wade-miley-brewers

Miley was productive for the Brewers in his limited starts. (Matt Slocum/AP)

The latest: The Nationals showed interest in Miley around Christmas

6. Brad Brach

Position: Right-handed reliever
Age: 32
2018 stats: IP: 62.2 | ERA: 3.59 | WHIP: 1.59 | SO: 60 | BB: 28
Former team: Atlanta Braves
Potential fits: Cubs, Reds, Indians

Brach has been one of the most consistent relief options in the league since 2012, and was named an all-star in 2016. The New Jersey native struggled closing games on a terrible Orioles team last year before finding his footing with the Braves after the non-waiver trade deadline. Brach can be a difference-maker in late relief for teams looking to upgrade their bullpen.

The latest: The Cubs had conversations with Brach earlier in the off-season

7. Bud Norris

Position: Right-handed reliever
Age: 33
2018 stats: IP: 57.2 | ERA: 3.59 | WHIP: 1.25 | SO: 67 | BB: 21
Former team: St. Louis Cardinals
Potential fits: Angels, Braves, Cardinals

Norris was used exclusively in a relief role for the first time in his career last year, and he enjoyed a strong campaign for the Cardinals. He faltered down the stretch, imploding in September for a St. Louis team that was fighting tooth and nail to make the playoffs. Despite earning zero saves in the final month of the season, he still picked up 28 on the year. Norris might not necessarily be signed as a closer, but he’s proved capable of filling in if need be.

The latest: Many teams, including the Marlins, are keeping tabs on Norris

8. Derek Holland

Position: Left-handed starter
Age: 32
2018 stats: IP: 171.1 | ERA: 3.57 | WHIP: 1.29 | SO: 169 | BB: 67
Former team: San Francisco Giants
Potential fits: Mets, Rangers, Reds

Holland managed to top 170 innings for the first time since 2013 and turned in a sturdy season for the Giants, aided by the pitcher-friendly confines of AT&T Park. He’s coming off a solid year, but his shaky history makes him anything but a sure bet. At 32 years old, the southpaw isn’t exactly a breakout candidate, either.

The latest: The Mets could be a landing spot for Holland

9. Cody Allen

Position: Right-handed reliever
Age: 30
2018 stats: IP: 67 | ERA: 4.70 | WHIP: 1.36 | SO: 80 | BB: 33
Former team: Cleveland Indians
Potential fits: Twins, Angels, Cardinals

Allen had a disastrous year heading into free agency, posting the worst ERA of his career. He didn’t fare any better once the playoffs rolled around, surrendering six earned runs in his two appearances. Even though his 2018 was a trainwreck, Allen is a prime bounce-back candidate due to his history of success. The seven-year veteran recorded a sub-3.00 ERA from 2013-17 and was a rock at the back of Cleveland’s bullpen for years.

The latest: The Twins are connected to Allen as the relief market thins out

cody-allen-indians-

Allen had a disappointing year heading into free agency. (Jim Young/AP)

10. Luis Avilan

Position: Left-handed reliever
Age: 29
2018 stats: IP: 45.1 | ERA: 3.77 | WHIP: 1.25 | SO: 51 | BB: 18
Former team: Philadelphia Phillies
Potential fits: Indians, Yankees, Athletics

The youngest player on this list, Avilan split his 2018 season between the White Sox and Phillies. He pitched to a combined 3.77 ERA, but his FIP sat at 3.09. Avilan possesses swing-and-miss stuff, posting a 10.1 K/9 rate last year. Teams could do a lot worse than the lefty this winter.

The latest: Nothing appears imminent but deals for relievers can materialize quickly

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