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.