Olney: Prices of Veteran Free Agent Pitchers Dropping

Buster Olney tweeted the following this afternoon:

The asking prices have come down significantly for veteran FA starters: Oswalt (said to be at $8m), Kuroda (10-11m), Edwin Jackson.

Neal Huntington has stated that he is comfortable with the starting pitching currently on the roster, but if this report is true, he should be aggressively pursuing one of these players. Outside of Erik Bedard, whose durability issues greatly lower his value, nobody on the Pirates’ staff can match the talent of Roy Oswalt, Hiroki Kuroda or Jackson.

Oswalt has posted an ERA above four only once in his career, with a 4.12 mark in 2009. He battled back injuries last season, and his 139 innings were his lowest season total since 2003. However, he still put up a 3.69 ERA, and appeared healthy late in the season. Dave Cameron discussed this in greater detail this afternoon, labeling Oswalt a potential steal at that price. Several teams will likely be interested, meaning the Pirates would probably have to overspend a bit if they wanted to secure his services. Nevertheless, even a contract around $10 million would be worth the cost.

Kuroda has been very consistent over the years, with a career ERA of 3.45. He is probably more of a longshot, as he has been fairly selective about the city in which he would be willing to play. (EDIT: Kuroda has signed with the Yankees.) Jackson is also unlikely, as his lowered asking price would still be a larger multi-year commitment.

Yesterday, Kevin talked a bit about the depressed costs in the starting pitching market this offseason. The Yankees and Red Sox have been quiet (Jon Heyman tweeted a few hours ago that the Red Sox will not give a major league deal to a free agent pitcher), and teams such as the Dodgers and Mets are still working through financial issues.

Bedard was a nice addition to the Pirates’ roster early in the offseason, but many questions remain with the starting rotation. Bedard is always an injury risk, and Charlie Morton is rehabbing from hip surgery. Jeff Karstens had a nice 2011, but his underwhelming peripherals and limited track record make him a candidate to regress. After a good start last season, Kevin Correia ended up being near replacement level and probably should not be handed a rotation spot. Considering all of these question marks, the starting pitching has the potential to be a major weakness in 2012. Adding someone like Oswalt would go a long way toward solidifying the rotation.

Author: Matt Bandi

Matt has covered the Pirates at Wait ‘Til Next Year, Pittsburgh Lumber Co. and now Pirates Prospects. He served as Pirates team expert for Heater Magazine in 2009 and 2010 and has contributed to Graphical Player 2009, 2010 and 2011. Matt was also the editor of the 2011 and 2012 Pirates Prospects Annuals.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Mangold/1608273413 Scott Mangold

      If they signed Oswalt and Fielder would this team be good enough to win this division?

    • http://pittsburghlumberco.com/ MattBandi

      Doubt it, not without a bunch of luck at least. Would probably get them up around .500.

  • Lee Young

    Not to be pessimistic, but the Pirates have about as much of a shot to sign one these guys as I have of getting younger.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LMMEFPRDCX6NN7MHGX2NLYKDWQ Joe

    Bob, we need lumber. At least we can be hopeful that pitchers we have in the minors will morph into a major league caliber rotation. But bats, especially a big bopper…we have nothing in the pipeline that will compliment these young pitchers with offensive support. I witnessed the great world championship teams we had in 60, 71 and 79 and we had lumber. Watching the power and explosiveness of the teams in the last WS exemplifies how very far we are from being relevant in October.    

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/George-Bertha/1552323425 George Bertha

    Oswalt’s had back issues for the past couple of years which was his ticket out of Philly!  I wouldn’t sign him right now, he’s damaged goods and us Pirate fans know all about damaged goods n’at!

  • Anonymous

    Lee : if the Pirates made the dollars right,believe me,Jackson would be there ! Particularly if it was for one year. Like George though,I would be a little leary of Oswalt,unless it was for a very good price.

  • Anonymous

    Will the 1st base options see a price reduction also? It may not be Lee or Pena who jumps first but maybe Kotchman or some other lesser name willing to sign a decent contract now rather than scrambling later.

  • Michael Jackson

    Too bad the Pirates didn’t talk turkey with Malholm.   He was a steal at 4.25 mil.

    Anyway, would love to get Oswalt, but Derrek Lee is still tops on my list of must haves.

  • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

    Roy Oswalt would only come to the Pirates via a trade, same as Derek Lee.