Free agents with the most to gain by walking (part two of two)
Lost amid the speculation of where Cole Hamels, Josh Hamilton, and Zack Greinke will end up next season are a handful of “lesser” players. Let’s take a look at a few and match them with a team they would fit into seamlessly next spring. Now up: The pitchers.
Hiroki Kuroda – If a player can survive the pressure of New York, he can do pretty well anywhere. And though Kuroda has had a few difficulties this season, they have mostly been overcome. With his track record, even as a relative elder among starting pitchers, Kuroda can find the security of a multi-year deal. He would fit nicely into Los Angeles, though not with the Dodgers, who are busy locking up their current roster. The Angels are the team who needs more depth, especially as Ervin Santana has struggled. The Angels arms race with Texas has already led to overspending this year, and Kuroda could be just one more beneficiary of the quest for the A.L. West.
Edwin Jackson – Has been showing the control that in previous years prevented him from landing a lucrative long-term contract. The fact that he is just one of the Washington Nationals dominant pitchers should in no way deflect on his strong start. This is especially true as Jackson is finally bringing his walk rate down. The Chicago Cubs will come knocking. However, the Atlanta Braves are an even better option. Two of the Braves starters, Jair Jurrjens and Mike Minor, are in the middle of disappointing, and in the case of Jurrjens, injury-plagued seasons. Atlanta also has a nice chunk of money coming off the books after this season is over. While there will be hesitation in dealing with the “big three” of free agency, signing Jackson will still enable the Braves to solidify other areas of weakness.
Derek Lowe – Is the only starting pitcher on the Cleveland Indians with an ERA under four. In fact, he is just one of two starting pitchers, on a team in playoff contention, with a winning record. The Indians, who have gaping holes on offense to fill, cannot afford what would be a reasonable contract offer for Lowe. This pitcher, who has found success in both leagues, will be in demand by a number of teams. There are the Baltimore Orioles, who will most likely make an offer. However, the Milwaukie Brewers, who will soon see Greinke depart, will have the most to offer. Three years ago, they snagged Randy Wolf, who likewise was coming off a one-year-stint with another team. The Brewers are in need of Lowe, who can bring consistency to a team with plenty of questions at the back end of its starting rotation.