We are nearly two months into the Major League Baseball off-season, and a number of interesting free agent players remain unsigned.
Much of the focus for commentators has been on power hitters who remain available. That is entirely understandable, as they are a few big name bats still out there on the market.
Sluggers such as Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo could bring needed power to the middle of a contending batting order.
But if you are like me, you believe that most big winners do so with strong pitching and stellar defense.
Having quality, reliable, experienced pitchers on the back-end of a starting rotation can often be the difference between a .500 club and one that contends for a postseason berth.
Most contending teams are uncomfortable giving a spot in their starting pitching rotation to a prospect, no matter how talented.
A few of the more talented of these youngsters could emerge to get such a shot as the season moves along. But to open the year, most contenders would prefer established arms taking the mound every fifth day.
A number of solid options have already been taken off the market. Rich Hill, Jeremy Hellickson, and Clayton Richard re-upped with the Dodgers, Phillies, and Padres respectively.
Among those who have found new homes, Bartolo Colon moved to the Atlanta Braves, Edinson Volquez to the Miami Marlins, Derek Holland to the Chicago White Sox, and Andrew Cashner to the Texas Rangers.
There remain a number of pitchers on the free agent market who have tasted big league success in the past. In the right situation, some of these pitchers could help a contending rotation.
While none of these pitchers is likely to contend for a Cy Young Award, they could all provide a couple of dozen starts and eat up valuable innings.
Let’s take a closer look at the top five remaining free agent starting pitchers: Brett Anderson, Doug Fister, Colby Lewis, Ivan Nova, and Jason Hammel.