When C.C. Sabathia re-signed with the Yankees almost immediately after opting out of the remainder of his deal, making him the richest pitcher in baseball history, the free agent market for starting pitchers went from not great to bad. Only two others achieved ‘Type-A’ status in Rangers’ lefty C.J. Wilson and the Phillies’ Roy Oswalt, who’s well past his prime and is a significant injury risk.
Another intriguing option is Japanese righthander Yu Darvish who is expected to be posted by his NPBL team sometime this offseason, but with a posting fee, Darvish could end up costing his North American team over $100-million; a risky proposition for a pitcher who has never thrown a pitch in the Majors. There are also ‘Type-B’ options Mark Buehrle, Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson, Aaron Harang, Bruce Chen, and Freddy Garcia and other notables such as Erik Bedard, Aaron Cook, Bartolo Colon, Zach Duke, Livan Hernandez, and Jon Garland.
In other words, there are some decent options, but no game changers outside of Wilson and Darvish who probably aren’t true number one pitchers themselves. The problem with trying to acquire starting pitching on the free agent market is just how expensive it is. Take a look at these contracts given out to starting pitchers last year: